Trust you are are all well and keeping safe during the Covid-19 lockdown. Here at Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights we are trying to keep positive and engage with our followers on different levels and by a variety of means.
I have started making more video tutorials as many have requested it. So this has been very well received. All my tutorials are available on the following social media platforms. Please subscribe and “like” my videos. It will help tremendously if you would do this 🙂
I’m also planning on having live cooking demos from next week, do let me know if you would like to join.
Also, please feel free if you have any requests for video tutorials you would like me to do.
I have also made my cookbooks available as downloadable Ebooks, which you can purchase for a fraction of the normal price and enjoy making the recipes with your family. The following Ebooks are available for purchasing:
Just an update regarding our frozen produce and spice ranges. We are currently not in production due to the lockdown. Our operations will resume once the Covid-19 lockdown has been fully lifted and it is safe for my staff and me to continue with our work.
Lastly I would love to thank you all for your continuous support throughout the 9 years we have been in existence.
Stepping Stones Into The Cooking World Launched October 2019
Price: R100 per session
50% deposit secures your child’s place. Limited place available.
Price includes cooking / baking activities, ingredients, children get to take their creations home at the end of the session. Refreshments (cold drink) will be available.
Salwaa Smith – Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights.
That time of the year is upon us – Ramadaan. The ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and lasts between 29 and 30 days. Fasting is obligatory for adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, travelling, are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating.
The fast is from dawn to sunset, with a pre-dawn meal known as Suhur and sunset meal called Iftar.
As well as fasting, abstaining from eating and drinking during daylight hours, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran throughout the month. Muslims should engage in increased prayer and charity during Ramadaan. Ramadaan is also a month where Muslims try to practice increased self-discipline and self-restrain.
With this in mind many of us have already started planning and stocking their freezers weeks and months before in preparation of welcoming this blessed month. Samosas, pies, quiche, spring rolls, doughnuts and traditional Cape Malay koesisters all of which can be made in advance and frozen for up to six months. This savouries and sweet treats can be fried, baked or sugared before iftar and served with a healthy soup for family and friends.
Even though Ramadaan might seem like it’s not all that close, the earlier you are prepared, the better. Thinking of what to cook takes about as much time and effort as the actual task. Make the most of your time now to browse through recipes and try out dishes to assess the cooking time and the amount of effort required. Make a schedule for one or two weeks and rotate it during the month, or make it for all 30 days! You’ll save a lot of time during Ramadaan doing the prep beforehand. If you have older children get them involve peeling and chop onions, garlic, ginger, dhanya, etc. Freeze them in portions ready to use. Likewise, vegetables for soup can also be prepared now, peel, chop, liquidise pour into freezer bags.
Before sunset children will be seen going from house to house taking barakats (plates of food or treats) to the immediate neighbours. In a typical Cape Malay home Iftar will consist of dates, soup and savouries. Boeber, a milk drink, will typically be served with something sweet e.g. koesisters or fritters. After the prayer, a light meal will be served.
Kebabs or burgers can be made, pre-baked and frozen. Homemade, no preservatives. You’ll get approximately 18 burgers from a kilogram of chicken mince. You may substitute the chicken mince with steak mince. Make chicken mince by shredding fillets in a food processor.
My recipe for kebabs or burgers
1kg fresh chicken or steak mince
3 large onions, finely grated
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced ginger
1 Tbsp. minced green chillies or to taste
1 heaped Tbsp. jeera/cumin powder
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 bunch dhanya, finely chopped
Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight for the flavours to develop. Next day shape the mixture into burgers or use a burger shaper. Separate the burgers with round pieces of greaseproof paper, big enough to cover the whole burger. Freeze until needed. This mixture can also be used to make chicken kebabs. Pre-bake for about 6 minutes in the oven to hold the shape (can be frozen at this point) before putting the kebabs on the grill. Cook from frozen. Serve with naan bread and a healthy salad for a scrumptious meal.
For Ramadaan we all want quick and easy recipes, the following recipe is no exception. This two ingredient recipe can be used to make naan bread as well as pizza bases.
2 Ingredients Naan Bread
500g self-raising flour
2 cups full fat Greek yoghurt
Mix the self-raising flour and yoghurt in a bowl until the mixture forms a dough. Leave to rest for 15 minutes. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface into the desired shape or size. Brush with a mixture of melted butter and oil on both sides. Alternatively add garlic paste to the oil mixture to give it a garlic flavour, garnish with freshly chopped dhanya. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 10-15 minutes. For naan bread turn half way through baking. Makes 2 large pizza bases or 8 naan breads.
A meal idea for Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) is to make mini Frittatas which can be prepared the night before and pop into oven in the morning.
1 medium diced onion
1 large carrot, grated
1 medium chopped tomato
5 chopped mushrooms
2 chopped spring onion
1 finely chopped chilli
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup of grated mature cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp. self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Dry parsley for garnishing
Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl. Spoon into a greased muffin tray. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes. Makes 12 Frittatas.
Cooks tip: substitute with any other vegetables of choice. Left over sausages, chicken or meat can be added as well.
Another easy and quick meal is lamb or mutton chickpea pilau. The meat can be substituted with chicken pieces which reduce the cooking time significantly. No potatoes are added instead chickpeas are used.
Lamb/Mutton or Chicken Pilau Rice.
750 gram lamb / mutton pieces cleaned and cut into small pieces
4 cups long grain or basmati rice
1 tin chickpeas (400gram tin)
2 large onions, diced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 stick cinnamons
2 star anise
3 tsp garam masala
2 tsp jeera / cumin
2 tsp salt
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp crushed ginger
3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
Chopped dhanya for garnishing
Soak the rice in hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Meanwhile using a large heavy based pot melt the butter with the oil. Fry the onions until golden. Add the lamb, mutton or chicken pieces and spices and cook until done. This will take approximately 20 – 40 minutes depending on the type of meat. Add the chickpeas.
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the lamb, mutton or chicken and chickpeas. Stir gently to combine. Dot with butter (optional) and chopped dhanya. Add 4 cups of hot water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to low and steam until the water has evaporated and the rice has cooked. Serve with dhai or atchar. Serves 6
Salwaa Smith is the author of Cape Malay & Other Delights Cookbook. Salwaa is the third generation Cape Malay cook in her family and is the founder of Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights on Facebook and other social media. Salwaa offers Cape Malay cooking experiences for locals and tourists at her purpose build kitchen in Newfields on the Cape Flats. In addition, she also founded the popular Little Chef Cooking and Baking Club for children which is held during school holidays. Salwaa has her own range of pre-mixed cooking sauces and spices which can be purchased online at https://capemalaydelights.store or from her kitchen in Newfields.
I’m please to announce our online store is up and running! You can now purchase your copy of my Cape Malay & Other Delights Cookbook as well as Salwaa’s Pre-Mix Spices online for home delivery. We offer local, national and international delivery.
I hope you like what you see here and will take some time out to try some of my recipe.
Thank you for taking the time to subscribe to receive my eBook. I’m sure you’ll find a few favourites in it. Mine has to be Shepherd’s Pie, it’s so simple and easy to make. If you haven’t been able to download the eBook be sure to click the link at the end of this email.
I regularly post recipes on Facebook as well as on my website, be sure to check it out. These recipes are already proven to be really popular so make sure to have a look and treat your family, friends and neighbours to some quick and easy treats.
Cakes For Kids – Free Birthday Cakes For Less Privileged Children
A Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights Initiative – established in memory of our deceased parents. May Allah / God elevate their status in paradise, ameen.
I started this initiative (Cakes For Kids) after doing much research. I wanted to do something for the children in care homes, etc or whose parents simply can’t afford to give their child a birthday cake. I know from my own children and grandchildren even if you don’t have a party or a gift a simple cake makes a huge difference on their birthdays. Currently we cater for over 450 children and some adults from 16 institutes.
We support all sorts of less privileged children and youth, they might be in orphanages, sheltered accommodation, safe houses, care homes, in low income housing with or without parent/s. We aim to raise these children’s self esteem and confidence with this seemingly simple gift on their special day. It may be just a cake, but the children we bake for know somebody took the time and effort to do something special just for them. The children realise they are important and in turn can have an impact on the world.
1 – You can contribute by donating a free birthday cake.
2 – Can’t bake? We accept cash donations which in turn is used to purchase birthday cakes from our home bakers who sponsor cakes. As a result we donating a birthday cake and creating jobs. Two good deeds in one!
3 – Can’t bake or donate? We need volunteers to deliver the cakes.
On Sunday, 7th June 2015, my Cape Malay & Other Delights Cookbook was launched at the Grassy Park Civic Centre.
The launch of my cookbook was the result of more than 20 years of dreaming and preparing for this, my first published work. I started collecting recipes in my teens, scribbling recipes from mother, family members and friends on pieces of paper. About 20 odd years ago we bought our first computer and I started to type up all my recipes I collected mostly from my mother, the late Zainunesa Francis (nee Adams). My mother was a great cook and baker, she in turn was taught by her mother (my grandmother) who made the most amazing tarts and pies I am told. She made this pies and tarts, which she sold at factories, as a means of helping to maintain the family. My mother, may her grave be filled with light and may she be elevated to the highest place in heaven, baked the most wonderful bread. (It would have been her birthday today 1st July) Although my mom stopped cooking and baking long ago due to her having a stroke people would still talk about the raisin bread, egg loaf, rolls amongst other stuff she made. At one time my mom baked cakes for a small bakery as well, supplying them with freshly baked cakes and delicacies every day.
My journey with Cape Malay Cooking started in earnest during 2001 when we moved to the UK. In the UK I had access to many ways and methods of researching how to compile and to produce a cookbook. I began by researching how to produce a family heirloom recipe book and self-publishing. All these methods needed lots of monetary investments. For a few years I forgot all about it. In the meantime I was lucky enough to go on many courses. I did various courses from Community Parenting to Business & Administration Diplomas. During 2007 whilst working at the Birmingham City Council I went on an Empowerment for Women course. During that 5 days I learned a lot about myself and my goals in life. On the last day of the course the instructor asked us to close our eyes and visualise the next 5 years of our lives and what we would like to achieve at the end of the 5 years. For me that was visual journey was very emotional and I came to realise that I still wanted to compile a cookbook.
My first granddaughter was born in November 2009 and I resigned from work to take of her whilst my daughter completed her education. The next year and a half was spend caring for my granddaughter. In the meantime my daughters were telling me about Facebook to keep in contact with my family in Cape Town. I opened a Facebook account in February 2011, naming it Cape Malay Cooking. I started posting pictures of food I made every day. Ever since we moved to the UK I continued cooking our traditional Cape Malay foods, bredies, frikkadel, breyanis, etc. The first message I received was from a lady who said “motjie, don’t ever stop with this page, I was looking so long for something like this”. From then onwards it all took off. Within months I reached my 5000 friend limit (I didn’t know about fan pages then, I learned as I went along). Another person advised me to open a second account, I reached my friend limit very soon on that one as well. It was only after I reached my friend limit on my third page that I found out about fan pages! I researched some more and finally merged all my Facebook accounts into one, Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights. For 3 ½ years I was known only as Cape Malay Cooking, very few people knew my true identity. The reason for this was I wanted to remain anonymous for as long as possible, I didn’t start this page for name and fame, I simply did it for the love of my culture and tradition, my sole wish was to preserve our unique way of cooking for my children and future generations.
Many of my followers started requesting recipe books. I compiled 5 PDF Ebooks, but people still wanted the hard copy. I had a few copies printed at a local printer but the quality wasn’t very good. From then onwards I started researching again, this time in more earnest. I approached a large publishing house, who agreed to print my cookbook but due to unforeseen circumstances the contract was cancelled. This was in fact a blessing in disguise. Towards the end of 2014 my husband, Aghmad Smith, decided to finance my project. Alghamdulilaah he worked very hard to enable me to realise my dream.
But the real struggle was still to come. I learned so much the past year. Through research I learned how to style food, take food photography, the layout, publishing, graphic designing, marketing, web designing amongst other things. But I’ll be the first to admit I still have lots to learn as everything is not perfect yet. This journey has finally came full circle with my self-published cookbook being received with wide acclaim from most people, especially people who knows about publishing, cookbooks and literature. I am humbled by the response and feedback I have received thus far. I have to admit my cookbook has a couple of spelling errors but as my brother, Mustapha Francis (who was MC at my launch) pointed out in 30 years time this cookbooks will be a sought after collector’s item! In Sha Allah (God willing)
A few facts about my “Cape Malay & Other Delights Cookbook”
My book was launched at the Grassy Park Civic Centre on 7th June 2015
Over 500 people attended my launch
My foreword was written by Mogamat G Kamedien, independent slave scholar & community heritage activist who also delivered the key note speech on the day of my launch
My cookbook is self-published
My desire to write a cookbook started over 20 years ago
Members of the oldest Malay Choir, Young Men’s Malay Choir, entertained guests
My cookbook launch was covered by Abidah Dixon Mohamed for TVs “Proe” program
The Weekend Argus, covered my story in their 13th June 2015 edition
The Cape Times as well as the Argus included recipes from my book in the Ramadan supplement
Chanel Islam International radio covered my story
Voice of the Cape radio station reviewed my cookbook
My story featured on southafrica.net
Capetownmagazine.com featured my story as well
In addition to the Cape Town launch I had a launch in Birmingham, UK as well as in Bosmont, Johannesburg
Stockist of the new Cape Malay & Other Delights Cookbook are:
– Shaikhs Exotics
crn of Repulse and Belgravia Road
Many of you only know me by Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights however since its International Women’s Day tomorrow (08/03/15) I’d like to share my story with you all, Insha’Allah/ God willing I hope to inspire you all to follow your dreams and aspirations in life.
My interest in baking started in the kitchen with my mother being her assistant peeling the potatoes and taking mental notes of recipes and handy tips, you’d think by me spending all the time in the kitchen I’d one day be a brilliant cook but once I got married and left the nest I felt lost in the kitchen I had no clue what I was doing! Cooking was very much my mother’s domain, I was the baker which suited me perfect at the time because my sweet tooth was always pleased!
My husband will often recall the first time I cooked a meal and what an inedible disaster it was, I bravely and very confidently told him that morning I was going to cook fish frikadel. I wish I hadn’t, it turned out burnt, mushy and definitely did not look like the way my mother’s use to.
However, that did not put me off cooking, I was determined and dedicated my time to perfect my cooking skills. Inspiring and words of praise from my family was what really determined me, my mother inspired me to do better and was always ready to criticise and advise me. My husband bought me Faldiela Williams cook books and from then onwards everything changed and I can safely say my cooking has changed for the better, the aromas, colours and pure passion to be found in Cape Malay cooking is a form of art all on its own.
In 2007 I attended a women empowering course where I learnt, suffice to say, words CHANGE LIVES. The course taught us that words can move mountains but they can also break spirits. They can also build, support, and yes, EMPOWER. Words have brilliance and the potential power to set free emotions strong enough to overwhelm each and every one of us. Words provoke us, inspire us and motivate, make us fall in love, go to war and save lives. We need to as women, encourage and support each other after all we can most likely relate to each other. I feel I have honestly felt the support from YOU ALL with your many words of encouragement.
Thank you all (87 000+ FOLLOWERS) for your continuous support.
Who inspires you and why?
Salwaa Smith – Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights
In order for us here at Cape Malay Cooking to continue our FREE service of providing authentic Cape Malay recipes, advise, etc to the community we have decided to offer sponsorship opportunities to home industries, small businesses and selected companies. We all know there is no better way to get the word out about your product than with the help of a trusted source. We are here to help you do that.
By being a sponsor on Cape Malay Cooking’s website, your product will be exposed to the hundreds of thousands of visitors, readers, and followers my blog and other social media platforms receives each month. This equates to more traffic for you, and that in turn can mean a higher income for your business or more product sales.
Let me tell you why you should take advantage of this great new opportunity.
Statistics and Exposure
Cape Malay Cooking has existed for almost 4 years and has built up a huge readership and following in that time.
Every week I post 3-4 new recipes and/or articles. This consistent updating means your product or business is guaranteed to receive ongoing exposure.
99% of those updates are accepted to multiple food sharing websites (i.e. My Taste South Africa & My Taste South Africa) Visitors from those sites are exposed to your products or business.
We have thousands of RSS feed readers and email newsletter subscribers.
Over 100,000+ visitors per week
An average of 50% organic search engine referrals, which means you’ll also be exposed to a non-food world-wide audience.
A total of 78,000 + social media followers, friends, fans, and subscribers
69,000 blog subscribers.
(The numbers are as of 7th October 2014 and increase every day, plus traffic is on a steady upswing.)
Options & Pricing
The following are the available options for your Facebook, website, product, or company’s advert. All ads are featured on left side according to selected option. Extra Large Ad
Only one available each month!
Prime location in the main sidebar area
Your ad is displayed on every page
Receives a “Sponsor Spotlight” consisting of small interview and option to share a recipe with spotlight. Also include are links to your website and all your social media sites. This introduces and exposes you to a new audience.
The “Sponsor Spotlight” post is broadcasted to all my readers, social media followers, RSS feed and email subscribers
You will also be included in the monthly “Meet Our Sponsors” post
Three Cape Malay Cooking recipes posts will link to your page or website. (seen by visitors, readers, email & feed subscribers)
One month of repeated social media promotion (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest)
All for the price of ZAR250 for one month
Ad positions are first come – first serve
Your ad is displayed on every page
Included on the “Meet Our Sponsors” post by me (this will link to all of your social media sites.)
The “Meet Our Sponsors” post is broadcasted to all my readers, social media followers and email subscribers
4 social media promotional mentions per month (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest)
All for the price of ZAR150 for one month
Ad positions are first come – first serve
Your ad is displayed on every page
Included on the “Meet Our Sponsors” post by me (this will link to all of your social media sites.)
The “Meet Our Sponsors” post is broadcasted to all my readers, social media followers and email subscribers
2 social media promotional mentions per month (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest)
All for the price of ZAR100 for one month
Ad positions are first come – first serve
Your Ad is displayed on every page
Included on the “Meet Our Sponsors” post by me (this will link to all of your social media sites.)
The “Meet Our Sponsors” post is broadcasted to all my readers, social media followers and email subscribers
1 social media promotional mention per month (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest)
All for the price of ZAR50 for one month
(Please notice that I reserve the right to decline adverts I feel do not fit in with the Cape Malay Cooking’s business ethics.)
As Ramadan leaves us, we pray that Allah accepts from us all the acts of worship that we have been diligently performing during this month, and may He give us the ability to maintain our determination and enthusiasm that He blessed us with – Ameen!
Article courtesy of Munadia Karaan (Voice of the Cape Radio)
FEATURE Part 1 – It is turning out to be a battle royal in food circles – is bobotie a true Cape Malay dish or is it “boerekos” that were merely made in the kitchen by slaves from the East? And as such, to whom does this heritage food belong? In the latest edition of De Kat, the debate is brought to the fore and for many food and heritage experts in the Cape Muslim community, it is about time that the matter is properly addressed, given how much of their heritage they have lost because of others claiming it or an inability to properly record it.
In a letter sent to the magazine earlier this year, author of Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos 1652 – 1806, W.W.Claassens took strong exception to “unfounded stories” by authors of the 20th century whom she said had not done the necessary research about the origin of traditional Afrikaner dishes. Bobotie, she wrote, is not a product or improvised dish based on an original recipe of the Cape Malays. After many years of research, she said she had proven that the names Cape Malays gave to food was their only contribution to the development of boerekos.
Claassens added that “the most important Afrikaans writers who were so eager about the contribution of the slaves to boerekos, are busy rewriting their books.” She bases her opinion on the claim that Eastern slaves were never a dominant group at the Cape and as such, they would not have been able to have a significant influence on the food of the Cape. Nor would the wives of the slave owners have allowed them to dominate in the kitchen by cooking foods from their homelands, even if they could afford to buy Eastern spices.
However, journalist and local food blogger, Johan Liebenberg, who wrote the De Kat article pointed out that several of Claassens assumptions were wrong. He quoted historical sources that sighted that by 1731, the slave population comprised 42% of the city’s population. He also pointed out the shortage of women in the early days at the Cape or the lack of knowledge among those who were here to cook with Eastern spices. Other historical sources confirm that slave women were an integral part of the households at the Cape in the era 1657 – 1808 and even in the 19th century, they played a key role in preparing meals, he wrote.
As for bobotie itself, Claassens claims that it stems from a Roman chef and added that its original name had long fallen by the wayside. However, Liebenberg’s research shows Dutch sources confirming that the dish came via the Cape of Good Hope from Indonesia or vice versa and from there was brought to the Netherlands around the 17th century. He even found proof of such recipes dating back to the 18th century where it was known as “bebotok”, close enough to bobotie.
Liebenberg believed that Claassens should have paid more attention to the role of the Dutch East India Company in the development of certain dishes in colonies it had occupied. From 1602 – 1796 the DEIC had almost a million employees in the East who all had to bring some influence from those countries with them when they returned home, especially with regards to food. It can also not be ignored that many of these officials had taken Eastern women as partners, which helped to create a Creolised culture in the early Cape with multiple influences from Europe, Africa and Asia, he argued.
While he had great appreciation for the research Claassens had done, Liebenberg wrote, he concurred with the UNESCO view that there is not just one narrative on heritage studies. That, he wrote, is the story of our history. He points out that little is really known about the women or slaves at the early Cape. They were not in the habit of writing down their recipes when they were battling to survive while working in the kitchens, in gardens or elsewhere. “They have already been denied their heritage once. And now a second time?” he asked.
Meanwhile, a member in the Cape Muslim Family Research Forum pointed out that no spokesperson from the Cape Muslim community has stepped into the fray to contest the claim that Cape Malay food tradition has no historical ties. “Thus it is claimed that signature Cape Malay dishes merely have south East Asian labels, whilst the actual recipes are derived from the slave master’s kitchen,” he wrote.
“This is a type of age old Verwoerdian ideological approach with a narrow heritage lens of focussing on European food origins, whilst intentionally denying the Cape Muslim community its slave legacy of a rich Creolised food ways. We must add to the South African rainbow, not subtract from the national heritage legacy,” he said, urging a national debate on a long neglected issue.
More on this story on Sunday Live at 08h30. Also read Liebenberg’s full article here. VOC (Munadia Karaan)
FEATURE Part 2 – Bobotie might be a cultural landmark in the country, widely recognised to come from Cape Muslim heritage, but there has been a virtual silence in the so-called “Cape Malay” community after an Afrikaner writer claimed that they had nothing more to do with the traditional dish than naming it. According to author of Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos 1652 – 1806, WW Claasens (79), bobotie was in fact true blue “boerekos”. In response food blogger Johan Liebenberg took on Claasens’ reasoning in the 6 June edition of De Kat. Speaking to VOC’s Sunday Live, Liebenberg also took issue with the silence on the issue from the Cape Muslim community.
According to Beeld of 22 April 2004, Claassens’s research into the cuisine of slaves in the 17th century showed that perceptions that the slaves had brought the the art of cooking with spices to prepare dishes such as bobotie to the Cape, were unfounded. Where the slaves came from, people were too poor to afford spices, and they mainly used chillies, turmeric and ginger, she said.
“Slaves didn’t bring any new dishes to the Cape,” she claimed. They only learnt in the Cape about cooking with spices and the typical dishes that were brought to the Cape, according to cookbook authors. Claassens stated that the dishes that formed part of the food culture in the Cape in the 20th century, known as boerekos, were essentially European.
The main contributors were Dutch, German and French cooking, which in turn had its roots in Roman, Persian and Arabic cuisine. Claassens said the Dutch wouldn’t have bought spices from the East if they didn’t have any knowledge about it. She traced curried fish, as we know it today, back to Belgium where it was prepared as early as 1500.
This was hotly disputed and largely dismissed by Liebenberg, who told VOC in response: “What it proved to me was the fact that if you do a doctoral thesis or dissertation, you can arrange the facts as you like. That is why many – including in the foodie community in South Africa – accepted her opinion, because it seemed right as she expressed it.”
Liebenberg said that Claasens and her crew had used a book on the Arab influence in European food to prove that boerekos stemmed largely from European food. “But they largely forgot that there were influences from the Malay community.” He said he had to look at his own research and resources to dispute many of Claasens’ claims, amongst others that during the period in question slaves constituted 42% of the population and were not the minority as Claasens claimed.
“Some of my sources claimed that slaves were the majority, certainly as far as women were concerned,” he explained. Claasens also claimed that no European woman would give slave women the right to dominate in the kitchen on the preparation of dishes and the latter were anyway too poor to afford cooking with expensive spices. “I think that claim is ridiculous,” Liebenberg said shortly.
“But what I find more astounding is that no one in the Cape Malay community got up. And I am sorry if this is an indictment, but of all the historians in my beloved Malay community, why didn’t they get up and say this is not true? Why does it take an Afrikaner like me to say this is nonsense? She was awarded a PhD for this. There is a question begging,” Liebenberg stated.
Fellow panelist on Sunday Live, New Age journalist Yazeed Kamaldien, said that one reason for the silence might be the fact that people were so involved with bread and butter issues that it left little time to concern themselves with heritage issues. “But what is the bigger debate regarding Afrikaner heritage and culture? For example, we have had the issue of the Afrikaans language with people of colour coming forward to say it is their language as well.”
Liebenberg concurred and said it was necessary for his community to look at facts. “We regard ourselves as Afrikaner or whatever, but we are actually mixed. We are all a melting pot and we all have to realise that we are not one culture, but a hybrid of cultures. So we must get rid of our exclusivity in order for us to move forward a little bit.”
Given that the Afrikaner community was very proud of its heritage, which it had tried hard to preserve, Kamaldien asked: “Why was it so relevant for this author to claim something as bobotie as part of the Afrikaner culture? Is it because people feel constantly threatened, that they need to hold onto their past so badly? We actually see it as journalists that white Afrikaners feel so downtrodden in a country that used to belong to them.”
While it was true that Claasens came from a different generation, Liebenberg said her attitude was not completely unique to others in her community. “For example, in 1992 there was only one Afrikaner folk festival. Today there are five. In other words, I think the Afrikaners feels threatened and want to grab onto things that they regard as theirs. Often much of what they believed in, no longer exists,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Liebenberg reiterated his affection for Cape Muslims and their rich culture that he has strongly advocated in his work. “I grew up among Malay friends in Milner Road. The border between Military Road and I was the Bo-Kaap. Sometime around 1994, I had been busy taking photos for an article on the Bo-Kaap. A Malay woman invited me in for tea and koesisters. Her daughter also appeared with her young baby and I never understood why they showed such wonderful hospitality towards me. Until this day I wish I could contact them again to thank them for it,” he said wistfully.
While authorative voices in the Cape Muslim community were largely silent, the matter did evoke strong debate and even humour online, including from many ex-pats. Commenting on Facebook, Nawhal said it was both ironic and refreshing that a white Afrikaner male was championing the cause of “Cape Malays” – a term that in recent years were seldom used and substituted for Cape Muslims, which some felt was more politically correct.
“Until this day our slave ancestors are being questioned on their food. Let’s hope someone with the necessary skills will come up with details on who bobotie really belongs to. I’m rooting for a Cape Malay slave, stolen from Penang, who worked as a cook in some Cape Dutch household and she should ‘suma’ also be the one who added cinnamon and cardamon to the once boring milk tart, turning it into a ‘regte melktert’, while bringing her version of Penang curry with flaky rooti to the Cape,” she quipped.
Naeem felt that it was at times like these that the passion showed by people like the late Dr Achmat Davids to preserve Cape Muslim heritage was sorely missed in setting the record straight. Fara in the US took a dig at Claasens: “She cannot let go of the past. Let it go Claassens, it’s over. Bobotie belongs to us, ‘die Slamse kinners’ Lol.” Shaheda added: “At least in the US, they admitted that if it was not for the natives and the slaves, they would have starved to death or died of bland food. Lol.”
Zuid Afrikaner commented on VOCFM: “The only ‘contribution’ the current Boere made to OUR bobotie, was to add apricot jam and flaked almonds to it, eek!” Even non-Muslims like Jo-anne weighed in on the debate. “I consider bobotie to be part of my cultural heritage – and it’s a great family favourite. My ancestors include slaves and indigenous people; Dutch and French settlers, so maybe it’s one of those dishes that celebrates our shared and entangled histories.”
Heritage fundi, Kammie was irate at the exclusion of the Cape Malay’s contribution by Claasens and her ilk. “Bobotie has enriched two South African culinary traditions – boerekos foodways and Cape Malay cuisine. Thus bobotie as the national dish symbolises the one signature recipe whereby food is the great democratic leveller regardless of social status, rank or station in life,” he wrote on VOCFM.
“Communities have embraced Cape Malay cuisine as part of the South African culinary tradition with copies of Cape Malay cookery books by Cass Abrahams, Fadiela Williams, Zainab Lagerdien, not forgetting Boorhanool Movement’s perennial Boeka Treats, which are bestsellers in SA households, regardless of race, creed and language. Let’s focus on our shared food traditions ranging from bobotie to sosatie, from Orania’s koeksusters to Bo- Kaap’s koesisters,” he urged.
Another ex-pat, Salwaa of Cape Malay Cooking who is based in the UK had quite a bit to say. “I always thought bobotie was a Malay dish brought with the slaves from Java and Indonesia etc. Since starting my blog, I did lots of research into authentic Cape Malay recipes and all the articles I came across was of the notion that bobotie is a Cape Malay dish which came with slaves who arrived from Java and various Indonesian islands in 1658. Being slaves, the Malays often ended up in the Dutch kitchens and their influence remains apparent in dishes such as bobotie etc.
“The origins of the name are not clear although in Indonesia ‘bobotok’ was an Indonesian dish consisting of meat with a custard topping that was cooked in a pan of water until the egg mixture set. It’s also one of those dishes that reflects the history of the country and the many cuisines that melts together to create what we now know as South African cuisine. Bobotie is a Cape-Malay creation, and they (the Malays) spiced it up even more with cumin, coriander and cloves, with influences from the Dutch who brought ground meat to the local cuisine, the spices were introduced by the slaves from Indonesia and the presentation is reminiscent of English shepherd’s pie.
“It’s interesting as well to note that frikadel is a popular dish in Germany (they even make kool frikadel I believe) and Holland amongst other countries. Frikadel is also known in Indonesian cuisine through Dutch influence as ‘perkedel’. I believe the spiciness of bobotie came from the Indonesians who brought the spices with them. This is one of the reasons I started my food blog, to keep our food culture alive and to make the recipes accessible to all. Otherwise who knows, we might have more of these debates regarding our other cultural dishes in the future,” she wrote. VOC (Munadia Karaan)
It was quite a year for Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights. This blog as well as my Facebook page grew beyond my wildest expectations in the past year and that is entirely thanks to you, my CMC friends. Thank you so much for joining me and the thousands of others who have been part of Cape Malay Cooking in the past year.
I am delighted to report readers from 99 countries visited capemalaycooking.wordpress.com in 2012. Thank you to each and everyone who took the time out to read my blog, left a comment or tried out a recipe or 2.
The top 10 countries who visited my blog were: South Africa, United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, Saudi Arabia, France and United Arab Emirates.
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The ‘Cape Malay’ community is rich in culture and religious traditions that have played a major role in shaping the history and diversity of Cape Town.
The exploration of the African continent in the fifteenth century and the colonization of South East Asia in the sixteenth century by European powers led to the enslavement of millions of Afro-Asian peoples. European powers exploited ethnic differences by employing the divide and rule tactic and used military conquest to subdue resistance by the local inhabitants. As a consequence Europeans exercised almost total control over virtually of these two continents. One of the reasons linked to colonial expansion in Africa and Asia was trade and the search for new markets. The need for labour to sustain trade created a massive international slave trade which led to the involuntary migration of large numbers of Africans and Asians to different parts of the world. For instance it is estimated that Africa alone supplied some 20 million slaves over three centuries in order to satisfy the American demand for labour.
Although slavery and the slave trade flourished off the coast of West and East Africa, Southern Africa remained largely untouched. This changed after the VOC established their presence at the Cape. Dutch settlers at the Cape of Good Hope arrived in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck came to the Cape to establish a trading post and supply fort for trading vessels plying the Europe-East Indies route. The Dutch settlers were given land and required to produce enough food to meet the supply needs of the VOC ships and the settlement. Settlers or ‘free burgers’ that were granted land demanded cheap labour in order for them to produce enough supplies. The VOC used this as an opportunity to import political exiles from the East Indies to work as slaves in the Cape Colony.
The Malays waiting for the boats at Somerset Strand. Source: Franco Frescura Collection.
The VOC which colonised portions of South East Asia and practiced slavery introduced the system to the Cape. Those people that opposed the colonization and occupation of their lands by the Dutch were taken as political prisoners or shipped to exile at the Cape of Good Hope as slaves. The first slaves arrived in the latter half of the seventeenth century with the initial load coming from Africa. Their ship was captured by the Dutch from a Portuguese ship destined for Brazil. However, the majority of slaves were gradually brought to the Cape from the Dutch East Indies in Asia by the Dutch. A large majority of those being brought were Muslims, were captured and sent into exile from colonies such as Madagascar, India, Ceylon and the Dutch East Indies (known as Indonesia today). Other immigrants were from Philippines, Japan, Macau, Malacca, West Indies, Brazil and possibly New Guinea.
The origins of this migration can be traced to early in the sixteenth century when, at the end of Indonesia’s Majapahit Kingdom, European military penetration and anti-Islamic persecution caused resistance which was crushed by the Dutch. This led to many opponents of the Dutch being exiled to the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa, which was also occupied by them. Some were also brought or captured from English, French and Portuguese ships. Included in this group were the Malay servants of the Dutch officials who were on their way back to the Netherlands from the East. The main group of African immigrant’s came from East Africa, Madagascar and West Africa. Many of these people were skilled artisans, such as silversmiths, milliners, cobblers, singers, masons and tailors. This group came to be known collectively as the ‘Cape Malay,’ despite their diverse origins as far afield as East Africa and Malaysia.
Anyone who opposed the colonization of their countries would be taken as political prisoners or exiles. It was one such group of people that were brought to the Cape of Good Hope. The first of these migrants arrived in the latter half of the seventeenth century, mainly from colonies in Africa and Asia that were occupied by the Dutch and the British.
The large majority being Muslims, were captured and sent into exile from colonies such as Madagascar, India, Ceylon and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia as we know it today). Some immigrants were from Philippines, Japan, Macau, Malacca, West Indies, Brazil and possibly New Guinea. Some were also brought or captured from English, French and Portuguese ships. Included in this group were the Malay servants of the Dutch officials who were on their way back to the Netherlands from the East.
The main group of African immigrant’s came from East Africa, Madagascar and West Africa.
The origins of this migration can be traced to early in the sixteenth century when, at the end of Indonesia’s Majapahit Kingdom, European military penetration and anti-Islamic persecution caused resistance which was crushed by the Dutch. This led to many opponents of the Dutch being exiled to the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa, which was also occupied by them.
The first Dutch settlers at the Cape of Good Hope arrived in 1652, when Jan van Riebeeck came to the Cape to establish a trading post and supply fort for trading vessels plying the Europe-East Indies route.
The Dutch required labour and utilised the opportunity to import political exiles from the East Indies as slaves. Many of these people were skilled artisans, such as silversmiths, milliners, cobblers, singers, masons and tailors. This group came to be known collectively as the ‘Cape Malay,’ despite their diverse origins as far afield as East Africa and Malaysia.
Orang Cayen – Men of Repute
A portrait of Sheikh Yusuf
One prominent figure among the exiles, or Orang Cayen (Men of Repute), who resisted the Dutch occupation of the East Indies, was Sheikh Yusuf al-taj alkhalwatial-Maqasari. Credited with having brought Islam to South Africa, Sheikh Yusuf was born in 1626 in Goa on the island of Celebes (today known as Sulawesi). Sheikh Yusuf was the son of Makassarese nobility, and the nephew of King Bissu of Goa.
Sheikh Yusuf spent several years studying Arabic and traditional religious sciences in Mecca. He eventually returned to Banten, West Java, where he taught the Islamic doctrine of “Khalwatiyyah”, which he had learned during his years spent in Mecca.
He eventually joined forces with Sultan Ageng in his fight against the Dutch attempts to gain complete control of the Sultanates in the East Indies. In 1683, Sheikh Yusuf was captured and exiled to Ceylon and eventually brought to the Cape of Good Hope. On 2 April 1694, Sheikh Yusuf, together with 49 other Muslim exiles from the East Indies arrived at the Cape aboard the ship “de Voetboeg.”
Sheikh Yusuf, his family and followers were sent to Zandvliet farm at the mouth of the Eerste River, just outside Cape Town, to prevent his influence on the Islamic slave population. It is ironical that this farm had belonged to a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Rev Petrus Kalden. Under the leadership of Sheikh Yusuf, who was 68 years of age at the time, the group at Zandvliet established one of the first elementary structures of a Muslim community. Dutch attempts to isolate them failed as Zandvliet became a gathering spot for Muslims and a rallying point for runaway slaves, and other exiles from the East. This farm area is now known as Macassar. As Sheikh Yusuf’s influence and spiritual teachings spread widely amongst the slaves at the Cape, they came to represent one of the first areas of resistance to colonisation at the Cape.
Repeated calls from the people and the King of Goa to have Sheikh Yusuf released and sent home were refused by the Dutch. In 1698, the Batavian Council issued a definite refusal to even consider the request and a year later on 23 May 1699, Sheikh Yusuf died. He was buried on a hill overlooking Macassar. A tomb constructed there in his memory is among the 25 Islamic shrines or kramats that encircle Cape Town. Sheikh Yusuf’s remains were brought to Makassar (Ujung Pandang of today) in 1705 and interred in a tomb located in Katangka Village, bordering on the Goa regency. The teachings of Sheihk Yusuf established a sound Muslim community at the Cape. His insightful approach and understanding of the religion still continues today.
Another prominent person was Imam Abdulla Kadi Abdus Salaam, or as he is now referred to as ‘Tuan Guru’ (which means Master Teacher) who was born in Tidore in Tinnate Islands of Indonesia in 1712 and became a Prince of this Muslim Sultanate. Tuan Guru was captured in 1780 by the Dutch for allegedly conspiring with the English and was sent as a religious prisoner to Robben Island. He was a keen academic and whilst he was a prisoner, he completed a book on Islamic law titled ‘Ma’rifant al-Islam wa al-Iman’ which explained practices of the Ash’ari creed of Sunnism and stressed the acceptance of the faith of Allah’s will in the world. This creed particularly suited the experiences of exiles and slaves. It also included discussions on scared cures and amulates, thus combining philosophical teaching with the more mystical faith that had developed amongst Cape Town’s underclass. Tuan Guru’s teaching and philosophy provided the basis of Cape Islam until mid-to-late nineteenth century. During this time there was a shift from a hidden and mystical form of Islam to a more open and public practice of the faith.
After his release in 1792, he set up a madrassah at his house in Dorp Street and by 1797; he was given permission to convert a warehouse in Dorp Street into the Auwal Mosque. It is said that Tuan Guru transcribed the Koran from memory as there were no copies at the Cape in his day. Later, when copies were brought to the Cape, it was found that his version contained very few errors. A kramat was erected to his honour on Robben Island.
The Holy circle of Kramats (tombs)
From the tomb of Sheikh Yusuf, a series of kramats stretch in a rough circle around the Peninsula. Besides Sheikh Yusuf’s shrine, these embrace the tombs on Robben Island, Signal Hill, Oude Kraal and Constantia.
The tombs of Signal Hill Cemetary belong to the three Tuans that are buried there: Guru,Syed and Nurman.
The second Tuan was known by the nickname ‘Oupa Skapie’.
The third Tuan may have come from Arabia but very little information is available on him.
It is believed that the kramat at Oude Kraal is that of Nureel Mobein who escaped from Robben Island. (No solid evidence to prove this is available; we can only rely on tradition.)
The question of identity
The terms Malay and Muslim are often used as synonyms but strictly speaking Malay stands for that section of the local Muslim community in which the descendents of Eastern Malays are to be found.
The question of identity has also been raised in South Africa, particularly by the minority communities as they formed part of the marginalised sectors of the community, oppressed masses and neglected groups. During the apartheid period, many rejected the racial policies of the White minority regime and never identified themselves as South Africans.
According to the Population Registration Act of 1950, South Africans were divided into four distinct categories: Whites, Indians, African and Coloureds. The Coloured group was further sub-divided into ‘Cape Malay’, Khoisan, other Coloureds, Bastards, et al. Researchers have pointed out that the Coloured identity has never been seen as an identity in its own right because it has been negatively defined and did not fit the classificatory schemes created by the apartheid politicians. Most of the Western Cape’s Muslims were put into the ‘Cape Malay’ category and thus they inherited the negative connotations that were attached to this category of people. According to Muhammed Haron from the University of Botswana, researchers such as Robert CH Shell use the term ‘Cape Malay’ as many of them came from the east, although the term ‘Indonesian’ would have been fairly accurate. Shell explains that the Cape Muslims came to be known as ‘Cape Malay’ because Malay was the lingua franca of the Indonesian Archipelago and the language was widely spoken at the Cape during and prior to the nineteenth century.
This term remained employable by those who trekked to other parts of the country and neighbouring countries as well. There were occasions, however in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the ‘Cape Malays’ were regarded as respectable people who did not drink and were hard working and reliable. This differed from the other ‘Coloured’ groups and the ‘Malays’ seem to have maintained those distinctions mainly because of their religious and cultural traditions. During the traumatic socio-political and economic crises of the 1970’s and 1980’s, the ‘Coloureds’ and their sub-categories appended the term ‘so-called’ to their ethnic identities, this was a clear reflection of them experiencing an identity crisis. It was during these times that the younger generation of the ‘Cape Malay’ group preferred to be called South African Muslims instead of South African ‘Cape Malays’, thus employing the religious label instead of the ethnic one.
Achmat Davis believed that the term ‘Cape Malay’ was unacceptable as it teemed with racist prejudice. This belief was held by Davis at the time when the general Muslim populace sympathised and supported the internal and external liberation movements against apartheid. In the socio-political context of the time, the masses rejected all ethnic labels imposed by the state. However, Davids later accepted the term ‘Cape Malay’ and used it interchangeably with term ‘Cape Muslim’. There seems to be continuous conflict between those who are in favour of the term and those who opposed it.
Today, the ‘Cape Malay’ form the larger section of the local Muslims who can roughly be divided into two groups; the Cape Malay’s whose home language is Afrikaans and the Indians, who speak English and their own vernacular languages. For both groups, Arabic is the language of their religion but for the Cape Malay, it is supplemented by Afrikaans.
The ‘Cape Malay’ community generally speak mostly Afrikaans but also English, or local dialects of the two. Although they no longer speak the Malay languages and other languages which their ancestors used, various Malay words and phrases can still be heard in Cape Town today.
Areas of Settlement
When the ‘Malay’ exiles and slaves arrived at the Cape, they settled at Gallows Hill which was later known as De Waterkant (today this form part of Green Point). The Gallowsteen or execution gallows was constructed here and slaves who protested against the cruelty of the Dutch were executed here. With the introduction of the Group Areas Act in 1950, all the families at Waterkant were forcibly moved to the outer areas of Cape Town.
Other Muslims slaves were scattered across the town before emancipation, although a number of Muslim free Blacks were beginning to concentrate in the area on the slopes of Lion’s Rump later known as the Bo-Kaap. Other slaves settled in the Devils Peak area which already had an established community.
By 1840, Cape Town established its first municipality and the cluster of houses from Hanover Street to Lowry Street then became known as District 12. By 1849, the population rose considerably and the area expanded rapidly due to the emancipation of a number of slaves. Many ‘Malays’ settled here, a number of whom lived in the area above the open field in the vicinity of Muir Street.
This area was originally known as Kanaladorp. This name was a mixture of Maleyu and Dutch and mostly likely referred to people assisting each other, a community spirit: the literal meaning being ‘if you please’. Early Kanaladorp was not only ethnically mixed but socially as well. In 1867, Cape Town was divided in six districts and Kanaladorp became the sixth district, henceforth people referred to the area as District Six.
District Six had a large concentration of ‘Malay’ people. This area was mainly a working class area. Living conditions varied enormously as you could find one family in a detached house while other house could contain up to 16 people in a single room.
Toilets were usually in the backyards and baths had to be taken in the kitchen in huge tubs. However, due to overcrowding, the area quickly turned into a slum area. In spite of this, there existed a joyous spirit and common bond amongst the inhabitants who had been living there for years. Sadly, in 1966, under the Group Areas Act, District Six was declared a ‘White’ area as government regarded the region as a health hazard to the city. As a result many ‘Malay’ people were moved along with others to the Cape Flats area.
Culture and traditions
The ‘Cape Malays’ have preserved their cultural identity and Islamic creed.
The Afrikaans language evolved as a language of its own through a simplification of Dutch in order for the slaves to be able to communicate with the Dutch and amongst each other. Educated Muslims were the first to write texts in Afrikaans.
The ‘Cape Malay’ community generally speak mostly Afrikaans. English is used to a lesser extent, or local dialects of the two can also be heard. Although they no longer speak the Malay languages and other languages which their ancestors used, various Malay words and phrases can still be heard in Cape Town today for example: ‘terima kasin’ which is the Malay equivalent for ‘thank you’, and ‘salmaat djalen’ which is ‘good journey to you’.
The ‘Cape Malay’ people follow Islamic principles of living. On Thursday nights, Malay people burn incense sticks (niang) in preparation for Friday.
Fasts and feasts
A feast to which relatives are invited to is known as a ‘merang’ and it is usually held to celebrate a special occasion. The following fasts and feasts are observed by all Malay people.
Moulood’n-Nabi (Birthday of the Prophet- PBUH)
This day is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Auwal. The prayers for this day are certain recitations from the Quran and songs that are sung in harmony. Women practice at least three months in advance for this ceremony. The Malay community celebrate by going to the mosque on the Saturday afternoon where they cut up orange leaves which are then dipped into sweet smelling oils and tied up in sachets. This is known as ‘rampies sny’. At the evening prayer, at the mosque, sweetmeats are served and the little sachets of scented orange leaves are given out as gifts. This tradition which is believed to be of Indonesian origin gave the slaves a link to their ancestral home. The purpose of this ceremony is to send praises (salawat) to the Prophet (PBUH).
This is a celebration in memory of the Prophet’s (PBUH) journey in one night from Mecca to Majid Al-Aqsa (known as Jerusalem) and then to the 7th Heavens and back.
Roa is on the 15th of the Islamic month of Shabaan and is a feast of purification.
The most important fast in the Muslim calendar is the month in which the revelation of the Koran began. All Muslims must observe it, except those who are ill, travellers, the old, women who are pregnant, and children under the age of puberty. The Muslim year is determined by the sighting of the moon and the fast commences by the new moon in the beginning of the ninth Islamic month. The Islamic months consists of 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon and the Islamic New Year starts on the month of Muharram and ends with the month Thul-Haj. The ‘Malay’ community refer to this fast as ‘poewasa’.
The most important day in the fast is the 27th night which is described in the Koran as the ‘night of power’. It is said in the Koran that during this holy night the sins of the faithful are forgiven and the angels and souls of Heaven come down to earth to perform many miracles.
The Malay people clean their houses in preparation for this night and candles are lit (kers-opsteek).
Lebaran Ramadaan (Eid-al-Fitr)
The sighting of the new moon again brings the holy month of Ramadaan to an end. This day is celebrated by all Muslims around the world. The day begins early as the men go to the mosque for a special Eid prayer or ‘Eid salaah’. Thereafter in their new clothes, families visit and greet each other. Gifts are exchanged and elaborate food is prepared for the day.
Lebaran Hadji (Eid-ul- Adha)
This feast is known throughout the Muslim world as Eid-al-Adha. It is held after the hajj pilgrimage. A sheep is sacrificed by families who can afford to do so and shared with the poor.
Popular amongst Malay people are dishes such as bredie, frikkadels, denningvleis, sabananvleis, pinangkerrie, sosastie and bobotie and although the ‘Malay ‘people have changed their diet, these dishes still seem popular at the Cape.
Stews, roasts and baked vegetables still form part of the Malay diet but the food is very peppery and spicy.
Contact with the Dutch colonists left it’s mark as many old Cape dishes such as ‘melktert’ and ‘koeksisters’ are still to be found in Malay homes.
The Malay wedding. Franco Frescura Collection.
When a Malay man decides to get married, he asks his father to approach his prospective father in law and should they agree to the man’s hand in marriage then the couple become engaged or ‘lambaar’. A time is fixed for the wedding and money ‘maskowi’ is paid to the bride to be. This money, which varies in amount, is according to the groom’s means and is paid to the priest who hands It over to the bride.
On the wedding day, the bride wears a ‘medora’ or headdress which is reminiscent of the golden ballets of Bali, and receives her guests in her first wedding dress. She does not attend the wedding ceremony which takes place at the mosque but is represented by her father or another male member of her family. A feast takes place usually for lunch at the bride family. Thereafter she changes her dress and joins the groom’s family for supper. At the end of the evening the bride is taken to her new home by her in laws or ‘khujadi’s’.
Early Malay dress
Early Malays wore a distinctive Mulsim style of dress: a toedang conical ‘kopdoek’ and the ‘kaparring’ wooden sandals, these originated in South-East Asia. Imams and others of higher status wore turbans.
kaparang – wooden sandals.
The Khalifa is a ‘Malay’ sword dance which takes place on the 11th day of Rabi-al-Agier in honour of Abdul Kadir Beker, a follower of the Prophet (PBHU). Its original religious implications have been modified with the result that the Khalifah now amounts to a skilful exhibition of sword play. Some Imams condone it as symbolic of the power of flesh over steel through faith, while others disapprove. The players, invariably state that they are aided by prayer.
Although the Khalifah or chalifah is the name of the central person conducting the ceremony, in South Africa it is often used for the ceremony itself. The Malay people used the word ‘ratiep’ for the actual performance. It is said that if one attends a Khalifa performance, one becomes conscious of the hypnotic effect which the rebanas have in conjunction with the rhythmic chanting, the incense and the general performance. For the rest skilful sword play explains unusual dance.
New Year’s Carnival
Each year on the 2nd of January or ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ the Bo Kaap celebrates a big street party, known as the ‘Coon Carnival’ in the centre of town. Originally, this was introduced by the Muslim slaves who celebrated their only day off work in the whole year. Nowadays men, woman and children march from the Grand Parade to the Green Point stadium. Plans for the parade are started a year in advance for the troupes that take part. Elaborate costumes are designed and sewn by ‘Malay’ tailors and are kept a secret until the day of the carnival as troupes are judged by their costumes, singing and dancing. Clad in colourful, shiny suits, hats and sun umbrellas, in true Rio Carnival style, the spirit and vitality of the Cape Minstrels continue to fascinate both tourists and locals alike. The ‘Coon Carnival’ has become one of the biggest events on the Cape Town calendar.
This cultural group developed a characteristic type of Cape Malay music. One particular interesting secular folk song type, of Dutch origin, is termed the nederlandslied. The language and musical style of this genre reflects the history of South African slavery. Often, it is described and perceived as ‘sad’ and ’emotional’ in content and context. The nederlandslied shows the influence of the Arabesque (ornamented) style of singing which is unique in South Africa, Africa and probably in the world.
Remnants of the old ‘Malay’ culture is still to be found in Cape Town today as a thriving Cape Malay community lends character to the mother city of South Africa. Cape Malay architecture, food (such as bobotie and yellow rice, samoosas, rotis, etc.), tailor shops, mosques and the warmth and hospitality of the Malay people continue to attract tourists in abundance to the mother city. Malaysians and Indonesians are starting to visit Cape Town in increasing numbers to experience this cultural link for themselves.
Cassiem, S.N. (2004) Muhammed The Pathway to the Garden. Hijrah Productions. South Africa. (p1-3).
Davis,A & Da Costa,Y (date unknown) Pages from Cape Muslim History. Shooter and Shuter. South Africa.
Du Plessis, I.D. (1972) The Cape Malay. A.A Balkema. Cape Tow. (p6-31)
Misbach-Habib,S. & Hutchinson, M. (2008) Voices of the Bo-Kaap. Shuter. South Africa. (p14-16;31-34).
Schoeman,C. (1994) District Six The Spirit of Kanala. Human and Rousseau. Cape Town.
Worden, N., Van Heyningen, E., & Bickford-Smith,V. (date unkown) Cape Town The making of a City. David Philip Publishers. Cape Town.(p124-127).
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