The smell of braising spices was almost intoxicating and it greeted me right at the door. There is a lot to say about how the South African Indian cuisine morphed and developed over the years and how we adapted it to suit our climate and our individual needs.
For Calvin, the need to reintroduce his childhood favourite dishes goes deep, it's nostalgia and a tribute to a man who introduced him to Durban pubs and diners - his dad.
Industrial instrumentalist by trade, Calvin Jacobs comes from humble beginnings. The family lived on the outskirts of Durban in a rural area between Umlazi and Chatsworth, they subsidised the family's measly income by growing and selling methi herbs. Calvin was working by the age of eight.
"The first meal I ever cooked was under the strict supervision of my grandmother who was the family's cook." Calvin related to me with real pride, "I cooked over an open fire in an old blackened frying pan. It was nothing special, just a slap-up of tomato and onion fry-up but it was the best meal I'd ever had." That was the start of his love affair with food.
South Africa has the largest population of people of Indian descent, but born outside India, of any country in the world. Of the million plus who live here, many can trace their roots back to the labourers who were imported to work in sugar cane plantations and in mines. Many of the dishes have been adapted from the recipes they have brought with them from far away lands.
Having travelled extensively, and being an entertainer, Calvin is the perfect host. With his chef Jenny in the kitchen, who pours out her heart into every dish, Dollywood Diner offers a truly authentic dining experience that will take you to the days of your childhood.
At Dollywood Diner you can expect Cator Manor Bites of braised Lamb Tongue and Brain or Chatsworth Giblets or Phoenix Masala Fried Fish and Chips. The menu is well thought out with a wide selection of curries, roti wraps, and bunny chows. The portions are generous and the usual side dishes like sambals, chutneys and roti's are served with most meals.
Dollywood Diner can be booked for corporate events, Christmas functions and vegetarian and non vegetarian platters are also available on order. You can find Dollywood Diner at 11 Browns Road at the Point Waterfront in Durban. Open from Monday to Friday from 8am-8pm and Saturday and Sunday 8am-5pm.