A Cape Town Cooking Tour of Colour, Spices and Cultural Diversity
A trip to the Bo-Kaap during your stay in Cape Town self-catering accommodation reveals yet another colourful aspect of Cape Town society.
Get in the Kitchen
The bustle and vibrancy of the area is an experience in itself but you’ll find that the food is one of the most memorable parts of your journey.
You may first encounter Cape Malay cookery at a local restaurant, but the best way to get a feel for it is to join in one of the many cookery courses offered on the subject.
The lifetime of passion and experience which the Malay chefs pour into their dishes may be impossible to replicate but you can imitate the flavours and textures of these inimitable dishes in your own kitchen.
Your search for culinary mastery begins at the Bo-Kaap Bazaar. It’s a maze of colourful houses, cobbled streets and spicy offerings to colour and flavour your dishes.
Atlas Trading Co. is your first stop. Piles of red, brown, orange and yellow spices tower up to ceilings with bags of rice and various flours arranged haphazardly around them. The fragrance is overwhelming, setting off an immediate mouth-watering response for all who encounter it.
Garam Masala, pea flour, dhani, cumin, dried herbs and beans are all up for grabs here.
If you want to prepare authentic Cape Malay dishes, this is the only way place to stock up on your ingredients.
Getting Stuck In
Preparing a traditional Cape Malay curry is a tactile and gentle process requiring rapt attention and care. It’s an inspirational and therapeutic labour of love.
It all starts with the roti – a flat bread which is not unlike a wrap in its appearance. The difference lies in the layers of butter lovingly folded into the dough, kneaded, massaged and shaped into balls. They’re covered in oil, flattened and then gently simmered to perfection in a dry pan.
Spices are mixed and ground by hand, measurements are instinctive but you’ll have to use a teaspoon and follow a recipe. They’re placed in a pot to warm and release their scent before receiving tender pieces of chicken in their spicy embrace.
The meat is gently flipped and rotated until it takes on the rich hues of the spices and then browned to a golden shimmer. A little liquid is added and the pot is left to its own devices, simmering gently amid a haze of aromas.
The end result is sublime perfection, a succulent dish that assaults the senses with a gentle reminder of the spice market where it all started out.
If you want to learn more about Cape Malay cookery, you should go to the Bo-Kaap during your stay in Cape Town self-catering accommodation. Take a cookery course or visit one of the local eateries and fall in love with dishes as unique and colourful as the people that came up with them.
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