• This recipe is inspired by Dr Kesaveloo Goonam (1906 – 1998).

    Recipe, styling and photography by Katelyn Williams

    Born in Durban, a shy Indian girl went to study at the University of Edinburgh in 1928, at the age of 22. She returned to South Africa in 1936 as the first Indian female medical doctor and set up her practice in Grey Street, where she grew up. Receiving endless flak for being both non-white and female, Dr Kesaveloo Goonam stood up for her rights and for what was right. Deemed “one of the mothers of the land” by Yana Pillay (a former president of the KwaZulu-Natal Tamil Federation of SA), Kesaveloo championed democracy, and was imprisoned 17 times for her political beliefs and her resistance against the Indian Land Act. She acted as former chairperson of the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), as well as vice-president of the National Indian Council (NIC). She spent 12 years in exile in England, Australia and later Zimbabwe. Like so many other South African legendary souls, she returned home after the release of Nelson Mandela, to a country of democracy that she fought so hard for.

    A newspaper article in The Leader (25 September 1998) reported how Dr Goonam would quip that it was her daily morning intake of dried fruit that kept her going. This twist on banana bread as we know it would surely have suited her morning ritual (An adaptation of a recipe by Donna Hay).

    Gluten-free chai banana bread with toasted coconut butter and stewed dried fruit

    Serves: Makes 1 loaf
    Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins


    • 225g buckwheat flour
    • 220g coconut sugar/unrefined muscovado sugar
    • 5ml (1 tsp) baking powder
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) bicarbonate of soda
    • 10ml (2 tsp) chai tea leaves
    • 5ml (1 tsp) mixed spice
    • 1 cupful mashed ripe bananas (about
    • 3 bananas) + 1 extra, halved
    • 1 large egg
    • 140g plain (natural) yoghurt
    • 60ml (4 tbsp) canola/sunflower oil
    • 100g honey + extra, to brush
    • 10ml (2 tsp) vanilla extract

    • 160g desiccated coconut
    • 125g coconut oil, melted

    • 750ml (3 cups) water
    • 330g castor sugar
    • 2 chai teabags
    • 1 cinnamon quill
    • seeds of 3 cardamom pods, crushed
    • 400g mixed dried fruit



    Preheat the oven to 160˚C (for fan-assisted ovens). Place the buckwheat flour, coconut/muscovado sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, tea and spice in a large bowl, and mix to combine. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the mashed bananas, egg, plain yoghurt, oil, honey and vanilla extract. Mix until just combined.


    Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased 21cm x 10cm x 7cm (1,75Lcapacity) loaf tin lined with non-stick baking paper and top with the banana halves. Bake the loaf, 1 hour 10 minutes or until cooked (when a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean). Brush with extra honey to serve.


    For the coconut butter, preheat the oven to 180˚C. Sprinkle the desiccated coconut in a baking tray and toast in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until the coconut turns light brown, 3 – 5 minutes. While the coconut is still warm, combine with the coconut oil and blitz in a blender until smooth and creamy, 5 – 10 minutes. Sweeten the butter with a little honey, if desired.


    For the stewed fruit, place the water, castor sugar, teabags, cinnamon quill and cardamom in a medium saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Remove the teabags, discard and add the dried fruit. Simmer, 5 minutes or until the dried fruit is soft. Allow to cool.


    Serve the banana bread sliced, spread with the coconut butter and topped with the stewed fruit.

    Imka Webb

    Imka Webb is a freelance digital marketing expert and the digital editor of Food & Home Entertaining magazine.  www.imkawebb.com