For Hama Davidson food has always been a major passion.
So it’s perhaps no surprise that her recipe and food-related posts have gained her quite a following on Instagram as @Indianblondee
Hailing originally from South Africa, Hama grew up in a home where a diverse range of dishes was the norm. “I do like my food,” she said.
“My grandfather was a chef and in our household my dad cooked all the western recipes, my mum cooked all the eastern food. I’m South African-Indian and I’m married to an Irishman who eats meat and potatoes!”
This range of culinary influences would be enough on its own, but throw in the South African tradition of braai and you’ve got a food spectrum that goes some way towards explaining the diverse and delicious recipes she shares on social media.
She said: “On my Instagram I often refer to a braai and people ask me, ‘What’s a braai ? What are you talking about Hama?’ Basically a braai is a barbecue where you’re cooking on charcoal or hot coals.”
When Hama first arrived in Northern Ireland over 20 years ago, she had already been braai -ing for a long time.
“In South Africa, barbecues on the beach are a really big thing, a fun social thing to do,” she said.
“The weather helped – the weather is always so good there!”
While NI isn’t quite so blessed with year-round sunshine, Hama and her husband still manage to use their trusty barbecue all year round – even in the depths of winter.
“At Christmas we were smoking brisket for seven hours outside,” she said.
“That doesn’t mean we were standing out there for seven hours! The meat was smoking away and we’d just check on it regularly.”
Of course, for the average barbecue-owner the summer is grilling season – with many of us not having set flame to charcoal since roughly this time last year. And with increased barbecue usage comes increased potential for food poisoning from undercooked meat, which is why safefood have enlisted a barbecue expert like Hama to offer some sound advice to us home cooks .
“When organising a barbecue I would always say to take your time, plan what you’re going to cook and avoid cooking too much – as tempting as it may be.” She also advises cooking to temperature, not time.
“The mistake a lot of people make is that the fire is far too hot, so everything gets charred on the outside but might not be cooked through. Ideally you wait for your coals to burn down so it burns white. You shouldn’t really have a flame when you’re cooking.”
One key piece of equipment that can make a huge difference is a meat thermometer.
Hama said: “I’ve always used a meat thermometer, it just gives you that level of safety. It’s a safety net that helps protect you and anyone else there to make sure your food is cooked safely so you can avoid food poisoning, and also avoid over-cooking.”
Meat thermometers are easy to come by and won’t break the bank. You can pick one up for £5-£20 and it could be the difference between a tasty and successful barbecue and an undercooked meat disaster. BBQ foods like burgers, sausages and chicken need to be cooked all the way through.
They’re also incredibly easy to use: remove the meat from the grill, stick the thermometer into the thickest part and when it reads 75 degrees Celsius, you’re done!
“Even if you don’t have a meat thermometer, there are other ways to check the food is cooked properly,” Hama added. “Make sure the juices run clear, that it’s piping hot all the way through and there’s no pink meat left inside.
“Steaks can be cooked differently to most meat, it can be served ‘pink’ meaning that you’re creating a seal from outside bacteria. But when meat is minced, what’s on the outside ends up on the inside, so burgers should never be pink inside at all!”
A quick scroll through Hama’s Instagram feed should be enough to inspire an absolutely incredible barbecue (we’re in love with the garlic and lemon chicken recipe) but what would her perfect spread look like?
“I would have chicken wings as a starter, with Dr. Trouble lemon and chilli sauce, then a tomahawk steak as the main course with a lovely array of salad and vegetables. For dessert, it would have to be s’mores, I haven’t made those in a while, actually…”
Hama’s final piece of advice for outdoor chefs this summer is simple: “Enjoy – it’s an occasion!”
For more about safe barbecue cooking visit the safe food website , and for some truly delicious recipe ideas visit Hama’s Instagram page @indianblondee.
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