Our favourite Fatima Sydow recipes that celebrate Cape Malay cuisine

Slow braised sweet and tangy steak. Picture: Supplied

Slow braised sweet and tangy steak. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 20, 2023


The death of culinary icon Fatima Sydow has left many of us heartbroken. The celebrated chef died on Tuesday, December 19.

Looking at the outpouring of grief from her fans and industry peers has reminded us that she was a legend of the Cape Malay food world and will forever be one of the people who made us appreciate the cuisine.

Despite her ascent to culinary stardom, Sydow remained rooted in her origins, always embracing and celebrating the richness of her Cape Malay heritage. Her journey was not just about cooking; it was a heartfelt narrative of love, unity, and connection through the universal language of food.

The culmination of Sydow’s culinary journey resulted in the self-publication of her inaugural book in 2015, “The Journey of Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow”. This book resonated widely with many readers, young and old, its appeal rooted in her easy-to-follow recipes that evoked cherished memories of growing up with Cape Malay cuisine.

In 2019, she released her second cookbook, “Cape, Curry, and Koesister”, a collection of beloved Cape Malay recipes contributed by both Fatima and Gadija (her sister) which was published by NB Publishers.

Earlier this year, she released her final contribution, “Fatima Sydow Cape Malay Cooking – My Story, My Heritage”.

Fatima Sydow’s final contribution, “Cape Malay Cooking – My Story, My Heritage”. Picture: Supplied

Cape Malay cuisine is unique to Cape Town and is typically a mix of traditional South African dishes, especially of the West Coast, with Malaysian, or Eastern influences. Cape Malay cuisine has over the years become something for tourists to look forward to when visiting the Cape.

With that, here are some of our favourite recipes that Sydow shared with Independent Media over the years.

Malva pudding. Picture: Supplied

Malva pudding


1 egg

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of cake flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbs of apricot jam

1 tbs of Vinegar

1 cup of milk

2 tbs of butter

For sauce

1 cup of milk

2-3 tbs of sugar

2- 3 tbs of butter

1 tbs of vanilla essence


First step. Pour the milk and vinegar into a small jug and let it sit on one side.

Next, in a bowl whisk your egg, sugar, butter, and jam for about 2 minutes, then add your sifted dry ingredients and your milk mixture and stir until well combined.

Pour in a square greased tin (not a big pan) or glass-proof baking dish, and bake for half an hour at 180ºC when inserting a skewer it comes out clean, also the cake will be a brown colour.

While the cake is baking, put all your sauce ingredients in a small saucepan bring to a simmer and stir till hot; keep warm on one side.

When your cake is done, take it out of the oven and immediately pour over all the sauce.

For a bigger pudding simply double all ingredients.

In place of making your own sauce, heat half a can of evaporated milk with a teaspoon of vanilla essence until warm and pour over the malva cake immediately after taking it out of the oven.

Slow braised sweet and tangy steak. Picture: Supplied

Slow braised sweet and tangy steak


800g of tenderised steak cut into desired size

2 onions, peeled and chopped

3 tbs of oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 fresh chillies sliced thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbs of Mrs Ball’s chutney

3 tbs of braai sauce or barbecue sauce

For the rice

2 cups of Bimrie Jasmine rice cooked for 8 minutes in boiling salted water rinsed with cold water and set on one side

1 cup of fresh pineapple cut into small cubes

1 cup of fresh coriander roughly chopped

3 tbs of coconut oil

2 tbs of sesame seeds

2 fresh chillies chopped finely


In a pot, heat the oil and fry onions until almost brown, add the steak, garlic, salt, pepper, and chillies and lower the heat to medium-low and slowly cook steak for 30 to 40 minutes, do not add any water, stir occasionally.

Next, add the chutney and braai sauce and braise for 10 minutes on low heat. Stirring occasionally. Switch off the heat.

For the rice, heat a large saucepan or pot with the coconut oil add the pineapple, chillies, and sesame seeds, and stir fry for 3 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir fry until rice has heated through.

Serve with the slow braised steak.