Cape Malay koesisters are totally different to the plaited koeksisters you may know. For starters, they’re spelled (and pronounced) differently, dropping the ‘k’. The Cape Malay version is more like a doughnut, spiced with ginger, naartjie peel, cinnamon and aniseed, cooked in syrup and sprinkled with coconut.
In a wonderful tradition that shows the importance of food and community, children get up early on Sunday, and run with empty Tupperware containers to the nearest aunty’s house where a batch of fresh koesisters are being cooked up. They fill their bakkies with piles of the warm spiced coconut-covered treats (around R3 each) to take home for breakfast. If you don’t live in Bo-Kaap or Salt River (where the koesister-making aunties are), here’s how to make your own Cape Malay koesisters at home to enjoy for Sunday breakfast (or anytime really).
Rukeya Gamiet’s Cape Malay koesisters
Makes 40 to 45 koesisters
- 700 g cake flour
- 50 g ground cinnamon
- 20 g ground ginger
- 10 ml ground aniseed
- 10 g instant yeast
- 10 ml (dried and ground) naartjie peel
- 100 g butter
- 200 ml lukewarm milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- lukewarm water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of desiccated coconut
Mix all the dry ingredients (except the sugar) together. Heat the milk and butter until lukewarm and then add the beaten egg. Add this mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and then add lukewarm water to form a soft dough. Cover and leave the dough to rise until double in size, and then take small amounts of dough and form into oval-shaped balls. Deep fry in oil on medium heat until evenly browned. Put them on kitchen towel and leave them to cool (around 30 minutes).
In the meantime, heat the sugar and two cups of water on a low heat, stirring continuously until a thick syrup forms. Once the koesisters are cool, boil them in syrup for one minute. Take them out and sprinkle with coconut.
Rukeya Gamiet cooks koesisters every Sunday morning in Salt River. To make an order call 072 442 7044.
Photo by Fatima Jakoet