Cape Town - Author of The Cape Malay Cookbook Faldela Williams, who died on Sunday, has been hailed by her peers as a revolutionary in the local food industry.

Williams, 62, suffered a heart attack six weeks ago and died in hospital from further complications.

Her husband, Ebrahim Williams, said he left her bedside at 3pm to say a prayer for her. When he returned, she had died. The couple were married for 39 years. Other than cooking, the centre of her world were their three children and six grandchildren, said Williams.

“She was a wonderful person who touched many lives. The world is smaller without her. But she lives on in her cookbook that can be found in practically every house in South Africa,” said Williams. The book, first published in 1988, raised the profile of Malay cooking.

Williams said that among his wife’s talents was adapting the traditional dishes to the palates of any market – local or international.

Williams learnt to cook in her grandmother’s kitchen in District Six. Her grandmother was a respected cook who catered for weddings, funerals and other occasions.

She was gradually allowed to help prepare the food.

Her husband boasted that she started new food trends with wedding catering, and later went on to pen the cookbook.

Williams featured several times on the Cape Argus food pages, giving expert advice on Eid and Ramadaan dishes. In recent years she adapted her recipes as trends evolved toward healthier eating patterns.

Yusuf Larney, owner of the Bo-Kaap Kombuis restaurant, said she was in the vanguard of Malay cooking. He described her as a humble person and passionate cook, and that came across in her dishes.

“She started the Malay cooking revolution… she affected all of the others that would follow. We all learnt from Faldela,” said Larney.

Boorhaanol Islam, producers of the annual book Boeka Treats, said Williams put Malay cooking on the map.

Spokesman Kiyaam Bassier said she proved a vital resource in preserving the culinary culture of the Cape Muslim community.

“Faldela was always accessible, friendly and warm… “

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Cape Argus