Frikkadels or frikadelle – my dictionary offers meatballs or rissoles as an alternative. Now I don’t readily disagree with lofty tomes but, well, balderdash. Because for me a meatball can be any size, made of any meat, and contain pretty much anything in addition to the meat. And that folks, is not a frikkadel.
Nope, to be a true frikkadel, it needs to obey great grandma’s rules: be heady with old-fashioned spice of nutmeg, coriander and clove, rich with sheep fat, ginormous and, very importantly, baked in the oven not fried. Check the box on all of those and you’ve got yourself a proper old-fashioned frikkadel recipe. The word may derive from the French ‘fricadelle’, but it could not be more South African.
This is the stuff of my youth. Gran and mum used to serve it with rice and gem squash halves filled with peas, topped with a pat of butter. A fine idea to be sure, but about as up to the minute as yellow court shoes, Walkmans and mullets.
I give it a modern twist by replacing the gem/rice combo with velvety-smooth orange sweet potato mash. The peas get to stay, but I bring it up to date by adding pea shoots too and, for an extra punch of colour, some trendy beetroot sprouts. Old made new, it’s a magical thing.