Salaams and Greetings Everyone!
On Sunday, 7th June 2015, my Cape Malay & Other Delights Cookbook was launched at the Grassy Park Civic Centre, Cape Town, South Africa.
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. 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 was 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. This journey has finally came full circle with my self-published cookbook being received with wide acclaim from 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!
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