Doing it the Cape Malay way

How can you say ‘no’ to an email that starts like this: “Cape Malay food is a fusion of Indonesian, Dutch and Arabic cuisine in an African context, using saffron, dates, apricots, cardamom, ginger, sour figs, oranges, coconut, quinces, bay leaves, cloves and raisins. Together we will explore this unique way of cooking that has evolved over the past 300 years.”

It came from Ishvara Dhyan (from Ancient Secrets) who regularly shares his tips, tricks and recipes with those interested in world cuisine.

With a limited repertoire of tuna pasta, fried chicken and scrambled eggs, people aren’t visiting our house for my culinary talents. But Robin (the husband) is a different story. He quickly got in on the onion-dicing, egg-beating, phyllo-folding action at this Cape Malay cooking class. He even took n.o.t.e.s. Yes, n.o.t.e.s.

The ‘pupils’ were following Ishvara’s directions and chopping, dicing, stirring, frying around a long communal table, occasionally dashing to the colourful ingredients table to whip up the following menu (while the whole place was exploding with the smells of garam masala, coriander and everything):

  • Snoek in phyllo parcels served with sour fig preserve 
  • Tangerine and turmeric rice 
  • Pumpkin fritters dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon
  • Creamy chicken curry made with surprise ingredient, inkomazi 
  • Cucumber and banana sambals to go with the curry 
  • Malva pudding with rose water and walnuts
  • Iced spicy honeybush tea made with ginger beer

So if you want to meet some interesting Joburg people (like two stylish older ladies who do Argentinean tango-dancing and a budding ‘Jamie Oliver’ who’s still in school), learn stuff, and eat some amazing food – go to one of the many cooking classes offered around  Joburg, I say. 

Focusing on staying out of the ER, Robin in action

Ishvara Dhyan waiting for the curry - patiently

The sour fig preserve (served with the snoek) was one of my favourites of the day – it’s a simple combination of sugar, water, sour figs, salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar transformed into sticky-gooey deliciousness

Making pumpkin fritters is serious business, people!

These are the sambals. The cucumber one is just well, cucumber, chopped coriander leaves, some sugar, a splash of vinegar and some green chillies. Easy :)

It's pretty 2011 to take pictures of your food while you're eating, but here's the curry anyway ;) And the honeybush ice tea blurred in the background

The yum malva pudding (2011... whatever)

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