Cape Malay cuisine

Photo supplied by The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel

It’s said that the secret to the distinctive flavour of Cape Malay cuisine is a careful blend of spices – the most important of which is turmeric – incorporated into an array of tasty traditional dishes.

The Cape Malay influence can be traced back to South Africa’s early days, when the Dutch East India Company needed a provisions station to supply ships bound for Malaysia.

Jan van Riebeeck landed in the Cape in 1652 and established a farm to provide fresh vegetables and meat for ships rounding the Cape.

Labourers were needed for the enterprise so the Dutch ships fetched slaves from Sumatra, who later became known as Cape Malays. They brought with them their unique culture, traditions, recipes and spices, such as garlic, ginger, chilli, star anise, barishap (fennel), jeera (cumin), koljander (coriander seed), bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, dhania (coriander leaf), mustard seed, allspice, mint, fenugreek, saffron, nutmeg and tamarind.

Some examples of Cape Malay cuisine that have survived to tempt palates to today include smoorsnoek – snoek cooked over a fire or simmered with onions and tomatoes; oumens onder die kombers (old person under the blanket) – meat patties wrapped in cabbage leaves; denningvleis – slow-cooked leg of lamb with chillies, spices and vinegar; and bobotie – meatloaf with onion, sultanas, almonds, bay leaves and spices, topped with egg custard.

If all this talk of spicy food has left your taste buds tingling, you’ll find that the Cape Malay influence has been successfully incorporated into the menus of many notable Cape Town restaurants, including:

  • Emily’s – V&A Waterfront
  • Biesmiellah – 2 Whale Street, Bo-Kaap
  • Patat – new Church Square, Parliament Street
  • Buitenverwagting – Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia
  • Jonkershuis – Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Constantia
  • Cape Malay restaurant – 93 Brommerslvlei Constantia
  • Cassia (Nitida Wines) – Tygerberg Valley Road
  • Durbanville Hills restaurant, M13, Durbanville

Buyel'Embo Village

This cultural village aims to remind us of our origin and serves as the reservoir for African knowledge pertaining to nature and traditions, giving us an opportunity to celebrate who we are through music (wonderful sounds from live bands) or from its’ distinct fineness of cuisine, topped up with African (local) arts and crafts.

Cape Town Carnival

The Cape Town Carnival is a glamorous celebration of African identity, diverse communities and cultures, and the transformative power of creativity.

15 March 2014 will see the 5th Cape Town Carnival explode onto the Fanwalk in Greenpoint , Cape Town. With over 2 000 costumed performers, a spectacular parade of giant floats and live musicians, it’s an experience you simply can’t miss.

Braai and Camping

Hot summer sun, extra long days and warm nights, sun-kissed skin and time to spend with loved ones; summer in Cape Town is the ideal time to get outdoors and enjoy getting closer to the spectacular nature that is within minutes from the bustling city.

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