Cape Town, South Africa boasts a diverse range of cuisines thanks to its mix of local cultures. The Cape Malay food has to be one of the most well-known because of their unique Indian, East African and South East Asian influences. This list of five vegetarian Cape Malay foods will take your taste buds on a journey from savoury to sweet.
1. Bobotie (Bah-Boor-Tea)
What makes South African Bobotie simply delicious is its mix of sweet and sour in one dish. Traditionally, this dish uses curried meat as its main filling however there are plenty of South African vegetarian recipes too! The meaty layers mixed with dried fruit such as raisins are pressed down and covered with a kind of egg custard mixture topped with bay leaves. Once cooked Bobotie is typically served with yellow rice and a fruity chutney.
Most vegetarian Bobotie recipes replace meat with butternut and lentils; a good recipe to try is Ina Paarman’s vegetarian Bobotie recipe. The basic ingredients you’ll need for vegetarian Bobotie are: onions, lentils, butternut, white bread, raisins, curry spices, fresh cream, eggs, bay leaf, rice and chutney. This recipe requires both an oven and stove top for cooking purposes and it’ll take roughly 35 minutes to cook.
2. Koesisters (Koe-Sis-Ters)
If you’re lucky enough to be invited into a Cape Malay home, on a Sunday, you might find a freshly baked Koesister handed to you as you walk through the door! Sometimes confused with the Afrikaans Koeksister which is a deep-fried plaited dough boiled in syrup, the Koesister is much more flavourful deep-fried and syrup boiled dough balls covered in desiccated coconut. Spices that are used in this sweet snack are cinnamon, aniseed,ginger, cardamom and dried tangerine powder to give its rich colour and flavour.
A top rated vegetarian friendly recipe of this snack by Tantalise my Tastebuds is well worth a try. Her recipe calls for the use of mashed potato because they add a softer texture compared to Koesisters without potato. You’ll need to make a yeast based dough that needs to rise before it is placed in a deep pan of hot oil then left to cool completely before boiling in the syrup. The whole process should take just under two hours.
3. Dhaltjies (Dhal-Chees)
These spicy bite sized balls have their origins based on the Indian pakora snacks. Similarly, made with chickpea flour and toasted spices then deep-fried and quickly eaten crunchy and hot. Dhaltjies or chilli bites are a quintessential savoury party snack in a Cape Malay home. The key ingredient in all Dhaltjies is chilli, the hotter the better! A great pairing with Dhaltjies is a mint chutney to offset their spicy flavour.
For a yummy vegetarian Cape Malay Dhaltjies recipe try Daryl’s Kitchen version. He recommends adding more chopped spinach to the recipe for a crunchier ball and keeping your frying pan temperature on a medium heat so the Dhaltjies cook all the way through. The great thing about his recipe is you can have these ready in under an hour!
4. Falooda (Fah-Loo-Dah)
If you love trying new milkshakes then this Cape Malay take on the Indian Faluda should be on your bucket list! Falooda is made with boiled full cream milk and infused with rose water flavouring, set china grass jelly, soaked basil seeds and topped with vanilla ice cream. Does it sound delicious? If you prepared to put in a little extra effort this sweet ice cold vegetarian treat will satisfy all your milkshake cravings.
You’ll have to follow Tantalise my Tastebuds family tried and trusted vegetarian Falooda recipe carefully for the best results. Go on, it’s worth it! She suggests making sure to properly boil the milk to prevent stomach cramps. You can whip her Falooda recipe up in a quick 30 minutes!
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5. Pickled fish
Around Easter time all over South Africa you’ll find families gathering from all different faiths to eat warming spiced pickled fish. However, this dish has its roots firmly in Cape Malay culture. In order to get the right texture your choice of fish is important. For this dish a firm white fish that does not flake easily is best; some South African examples are Snoek, Yellowtail or Cape Salmon. The firmness of the fish allows it to hold its shape in the pickling mix.
The Woolworths Taste magazine has a nice and easy pickled fish recipe anyone can try. Although, it’ll take you around half an hour to cook and prepare for maximum flavour do set aside in your refrigerator for a day or two.
Has this article made you want to book a plane ticket to Cape Town? All of these vegetarian based Cape Malay dishes will transport your senses during this stay-at-home time. If you’d like to learn more about the vibrant Cape Malay community watch this fun video Bo-Kaap: The Love Cape Town Neighbourhoods Series.