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This page is dedicated to Renata Coetzee, author of the book "The South African Culinary Tradition". Thanks, Renata, for this wonderful record of our country's unique cuisine.  Our culinary history starts in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of Good Hope, and the rest, as they say,  is  history. Scroll down for some recipes from Renata's book,  Measures and quantities have been changed to current terms but the end results speak for themselves. The recipes are as they were prepared in the early days of the Cape. So, take a trip back into history and sample some of the delights of those times.

18th Century Recipes Index

Bean Soup
Dumpling Soup
Sweet Potato Fritters
Roast Sucking Pig
Kaapcshe Jongens

Oblietjies (Rolled Wafers)

2 eggs
450 g brown sugar
10 ml (two teaspoons) ground cinnamon
10 ml (two teaspoons) pounded naartjie peel
120 ml (half cup) wine
250 g butter
450 g cake flour

Beat the eggs and sugar and allow to stand. Add the spices, wine and melted butter and fold in the flour. Form into balls the size of walnuts and place in the middle of the heated wafer iron. Close securely but without forcing. Bake for half a minute on each side until lightly browned and lift out with a spatula. Roll up immediately into a trumpet shape or a roll open at both ends. Serve with honey and cream.

(A wafer iron is in appearance very much like a waffle iron)

Bean Soup

500 g dried white beans
1 kg beef or marrow bones
125 g pork speck (if meat is lean)
4 l water (16 cups)
1 onion
1 sprig of parsley
1 mace leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Drain, boil for half an hour in fresh water and drain again. To the beans add the 16 cups of water, the meat (or bones) and speck, braised onions and the finely shredded leaves and flavouring. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours stirring occasionally and adding water when necessary. 
This filling soup was often the main dish at evening meals, particularly in cold and rainy weather. 

Dumpling Soup

Make a soup from:
1 kg beef
2 mace leaves
2.5 to 3.5 l water (8 to 12 cups)
6 cloves
1 spray of sorrel
salt to taste

For the dumplings melt 1 tablespoon soft fat or butter in one cup boiling water and thicken with 2 cups of flour. Allow to cool, fold in two eggs and shape into dumplings the size of walnuts. Steam the dumplings in the soup.


2 pork trotters
1.5 kg shin
5 ml (1 teaspoon) pepper
4 cloves
4 whole pimentos
12.5 (1 tablespoon) salt
62.5 ml (quarter cup) vinegar
1 bayleaf

Singe and scrape off all the hair and bristles. Make a slit from between the trotters as far as the first joint. Remove gland from between trotters. Saw bones into smaller pieces. Cover the trotters with water, add all other ingredients and simmer until the meat comes away from the bones (approx 5 hours or 1.5 hours in a pressure cooker) and a small quantity of water is left. Remove the bones and cut meat into small pieces. Pour into wetted moulds and allow to set. Serve slices of cold brawn with salad such a slaphakskeentjies (cooked onion salad) or tomato salad.

Meboskonfyt (Sugared Mebos)

Place ripe apricots in salt water and soak for 3 to 4 hours until the skin can be removed easily. Drain and lay the fruit on boards to dry in the sun. Turn the fruit over. On the third day squeeze the fruit gently to squeeze out the stone. Pres the fruit flat. Soak in lime water for 5 minutes. Remove and dry the fruit with a soft cloth. Rub white sugar well into each apricot: 750 g sugar to 500 g fruit. Pack into jars with plenty of sugar between the layers and keep tightly covered. 
To make jam from the mebos, soak in boiling water for a few hours and then drop one piece at a time into boiling syrup. (500 g sugar for 375 ml water) Boil until thick. Bottle at once and seal. 

Sweet Potato Fritters (as dessert)

500 ml (2 cups) sweet potato, cooked and mashed
60 g (half cup) cake flour
2 eggs, beaten
cinnamon sugar

Mix the sweet potato and flour and add egg and cinnamon sugar to make a soft batter, adding little milk if necessary. Form into patties and fry in hot fat. Serve with honey and lemon.

Souskluitjies (cinnamon dumplings)

120 g (1 cup) cake flour
10 ml (2 teaspoons baking powder)
1 ml (quarter teaspoon) salt
12.5 ml (1 tablespoon) butter
1 egg
125 ml (half cup) milk
cinnamon sugar

Sift dry ingredients and rub in butter. Beat the egg and milk and mix in the dry ingredients to make a thick batter. Boil 500 ml water with a little salt in a large, shallow saucepan with a tight fitting lid. 
Spoon the batter into the boiling water with a teaspoon, each time dipping the teaspoon into the boiling water first. The dumplings must cook separately, not touching each other. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove dumplings from water with a perforated spoon, butter them lightly and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
To make a sauce, stir cinnamon sugar and butter into the water in which the dumplings were cooked.

Soetkoekies (Cookies)

500 g cake flour
2 ml (half teaspoon) salt
2 ml (half teaspoon) ground cloves
10 ml (2 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground ginger
5 ml (1 teaspoon) bicarbonate of soda
300 g (1.5 cups) sugar
200 g (0.8 cup) butter
5 ml (1 teaspoon) red bolus ( ferri-oxide mixture)
1 egg
25 ml (2 tablespoons) wine

Sift dry ingredients together and rub in butter. Beat egg and wine together, combine ingredients and mix into stiff dough. Leave to stand overnight. Take a piece of dough and work red bolus into it. Roll out the remaining dough to a thickness of 5 mm. (1/4 inch). Arrange strips of red bolus dough on rolled out dough and roll out again to a thickness of 5 mm. Cut out rounds of dough with a glass of about 50 mm in diameter (about 2 inches) . Bake in hot oven (200 șC) for 10 minutes.


1 kg minced meat
1 large onion
25 ml (2 tablespoons) butter or oil
1 thick slice bread
250 ml (1 cup) milk
12.5 ml (1 tablespoon) apricot jam
50 ml (4 tablespoons) lemon juice
75 g seedless raisins
10 dried apricots
30 ml (2 heaped tablespoons) curry powder
12 almonds, quartered
5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
5 ml (1 teaspoon) pepper
6 lemon or bay leaves
2 eggs

Sauté the onions in butter or oil. Soak the bread in half the milk. Mix all the ingredients except the eggs, the remainder of the milk and the lemon leaves. Spoon into a casserole and press in the lemon leaves. Beat the milk and eggs and pour over the meat. Bake for approx. 45 minutes in a medium oven (180șC). Serve with rice, chutney, desiccated coconut and chopped nuts.

Roast Sucking Pig

A sucking pig with an orange in its mouth was traditionally served at wedding receptions. The wedding feast was a splendid occasion held at the home of the bride.

Clean the sucking pig thoroughly and sprinkle the body cavity well with salt and fill with stuffing. Twist the front legs backward and the hind legs forward and fix with meat skewers. Rub the sucking pig with butter and wrap in greased brown or wax paper. Place in a roasting pan with water and roast in a hot oven (200șC) for about 2 1/2 hours. Remove the paper and continue roasting until brown, constantly brushing the surface with melted butter. Place a potato, apple or orange in the mouth and serve on a platter.

500 ml(2 cups) minced meat
25 ml (2 tablespoons) minced ham
7 ml (1.5 teaspoons) coriander
1 thick slice of bread soaked in milk
2 ml (half teaspoon) pounded cloves
salt and pepper
12.5 ml (1 tablespoon) vinegar
1 egg

Mix all the ingredients and use for stuffing the pig.

Kaapcshe Jongens (brandied grapes)

In the early days at the Cape, fruit was preserved in brandy and served in glasses as a dessert at special occasions.

Ripe Hanepoot grapes
castor sugar

Wash the ripe bunches well and snip off the grapes with stalks intact. Prick with a darning needle, pack into sterilized jars and sprinkle each layer with castor sugar. Fill the jars with brandy and screw tops closed. A fifty-fifty mixture of brandy and a heavy syrup made from equal amounts of sugar and water boiled together may be substituted for the brandy, but then the castor sugar should be omitted.

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