Celebrity cookbook author Fatima Sydow launches new book celebrating Cape Malay culture

Fatima Sydow’s new cookbook celebrates Cape Malay culture. Picture: Instagram

Fatima Sydow’s new cookbook celebrates Cape Malay culture. Picture: Instagram

Published May 8, 2023


The cream of the crop in Cape Town’s entertainment industry gathered for the official book launch of Fatima Sydow’s “My story, my heritage”.

Sydow is known for her Cape Malay-style dishes and sweet treats and has won the hearts and appetites of food lovers all over South Africa.

Book cover. Picture: Supplied

In her latest book, Sydow takes us on a nostalgic journey through the memories of the many important feasts celebrated in her Cape Malay culture.

Starting with old-school family favourites, she recalls her upbringing on the Cape Flats as well as stories of Ramadaan, Labarang (Eid), a wedding in the community and fond recollections of the festive season.

Woven through these memories are recipes for salt and pepper chicken, bean curry, Ramadaan boeka plates, Labarang sweet treats and desserts, as well as her ultimate braai ideas.

Sydow’s YouTube channel, “Fatima Sydow Cooks”, is also there to guide you in cooking know-how.

My husband is an avid YouTube follower of all Sydow’s and her twin sister Gadija Sydow-Noordien’s dishes.

He already noted the new cookbook as the top option for this birthday gift this month.

There isn’t a single Cape Malay-style dish in our home that doesn’t have a “Sydow sisters” touch to it.

You could be anywhere in the world and whip up a scrumptious lamb curry, a hearty beef stew or warm malva pudding to get that unique taste.

Sydow and her sister also share a cooking show on VIA, DStv 147, called “Kaap, Kerrie & Koeksisters”.

Sydow, who is battling soft tissue sarcoma, a rare type of cancer, and undergoing chemotherapy, was applauded with loud cheers and whistles from guests when she arrived inside the venue in her wheelchair.

Among the guests in attendance were Marc Lottering, Salome, Madeegha Anders, Nur Abrahams, Yaaseen Barnes and Mujahid George. Tyrone Paulsen was on MC duties.

Sydow, 47, thanked her friends and family for attending. She took to Instagram and wrote: “Grateful for the Amazing, unselfish, kind, honorable, loving, devoted, loyal people in my life.

“Have a celebration with the people that don't just show up when it's a party and the going is good, but also show up in the dark times, when you actually need them the most.

“And give of themselves without any expectations for anything in return. Yesterday was that day… I was surrounded by pure love and sincerity…. And that is priceless…”

Friends and family of Sydow welcomed her with applause and a standing ovation when she entered.

Here are a few delicious recipes shared in Sydow’s cookbook:

Boeber. Picture: Supplied


Serves 4 – 6

A bowl full of milky sweet goodness, traditionally served on the 15th day of Ramadaan to celebrate the halfway mark of 30 days of fasting. What a treat… It’s quite a special night as the rest of the month we normally just have vegetable soup. I love my boeber on the thicker side and any leftovers we share with our neighbours. We aptly call it “boeber night”.


45ml (3 tbs) butter

375ml (1½ cups) crushed vermicelli or lokshen pasta

5 cinnamon sticks

5 cardamom pods

150g (¾ cup) sago soaked in water for 1 hour and drained

pinch of salt

1 litre (4 cups) milk

125ml (½ cup) sugar (or add more to suit your taste)

1. In a large pot, heat the butter on a medium heat and add the pasta, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. Cook until the pasta has turned a golden brown, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

NOTE: Roasted almonds, seedless sultanas and rose water can be added to the boeber if desired. You can also replace the sugar with the same amount of condensed milk. If the boeber is too thick for your liking, simply add a bit of milk. To make it even more decadent, a can of evaporated milk can be added as well. Adjust the sweetness to your taste.

Fancy Cakes. Picture: Supplied

Fancy Cakes:

The sponge cake is moist, soft and fluffy. My Eid table is never without these beautifully decorated colourful fancies. Perfect to place on your cake stand along with all the other sweet treats.

Makes about 35 squares



375ml (1½ cups) castor sugar

4 large eggs

250ml (1 cup) oil

10ml (2 tsp) vanilla essence or extract

250ml (1 cup) milk

625ml (2½ cups) flour

15ml (1 tbs) baking powder

5ml (1 tsp) salt


Small tin (290g) apricot jam

3 – 4 x 250ml (3 – 4 cups) boiling water

Food colouring(s) of your choice

Desiccated coconut, to coat the cake squares


Whipped cream

Caramel Treat

Sugar flowers

Chocolate flake

Canned fruit

Jelly (1 packet of jelly to 1 cup of water and let it set)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spray a deep baking tray with cooking spray or grease with butter and sprinkle with a little flour.

2. SPONGE CAKE: Add the castor sugar and eggs to a mixing bowl and beat for about 4 – 5 minutes. Start adding the oil little by little to the egg mixture while beating.

3. Next add the vanilla essence, milk, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir all the ingredients until well combined. Give the batter one last beat to make sure that everything at the bottom of the bowl has combined with the mixture.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray. Swipe a toothpick through the batter to get rid of any bubbles that may have formed.

5. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Test the cake with a toothpick to make sure that it’s baked completely – if pressed into the centre, the toothpick must come out clean.

6. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the baking tray, then turn it out on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, cut off the edges of the cake neatly and cut the cake into small squares.

7. COATING: In a mixing bowl whisk the apricot jam and boiling water together. Divide the mixture into three separate mixing bowls. Add a few drops of food colouring to each bowl. (You can use three different colours, or only one colour if you prefer.)

8. Dip a cake square into a jam mixture and then coat with coconut. Continue until all the cake has been dipped and coated.

DECORATION: With a piping bag, pipe the cream onto the cakes and decorate as desired.

Half-Moons with chicken and cheese filling. Picture: Supplied

Half-Moons with chicken and cheese filling:

After a samoosa, a delicious half-moon is the next best thing! I have to contain my excitement as they cool off after frying and I can never just eat one. They’re ideal to make ahead and freeze so when I have unexpected visitors, I simply take them out and fry from frozen. Onto a pretty plate they go with a chutney or sauce on the side, although I like to eat them just so.

Serves 8 – 10


80g butter

625ml (2½ cups) water

500ml (2 cups) flour

2.5ml (½ tsp) salt


30ml (2 tbs) oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 chicken fillets, chopped into very small cubes

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Salt to taste

250ml (1 cup) mixed vegetables, chopped

5ml (1 tsp) turmeric

15ml (1 tbs) roasted masala

15ml (1 tbs) mustard powder

5ml (1 tsp) chilli powder

125ml (½ cup) fresh coriander, chopped

250ml (1 cup) Cheddar cheese

grated zest of 1 lemon


375ml (1½ cups) milk

500ml (2 cups) breadcrumbs

Oil, for deep-frying

1. In a saucepan, bring the butter and water to a boil. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the flour and salt until the mixture forms a soft ball. Cover and place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

2. FILLING: Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and sauté until golden brown. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the coriander, cheese and lemon zest. Braise for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Transfer to a bowl and add the coriander, cheese and lemon zest and mix well.

3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut out circles with a large round cookie cutter. Spoon the filling onto the centre of the circles. Brush the edges with water. Fold over to make a half-moon and press the edges closed with a fork.

4. TO COOK: Dip in the milk and then in the breadcrumbs. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Deep-fry the half-moons until golden brown on both sides.