What's the difference between a koeksister & a koesister?
Chef Naseer Abdullah tells us, and shares an amazing recipe for the latter
"A week can't go by without me eating about 10 koesisters," says Naseer Abdullah, head chef of Radisson RED Hotel in Cape Town, which recently hosted a koesister "Koek Off".
"Koesisters are an integral part of my life because of the legacy — my grandmother used to make them," he adds.
"Whether you make them for others or enjoy them for yourself, it is a dish that will carry on for generations."
He tells us more about these traditional Cape Malay treats:
What's the difference between the koesister and a koeksister?
The Afrikaans original, koeksister, is a golden, twisted plait, crisp on the outside with a sweet syrupy centre. Koesisters are a Cape Malay delicacy, oval dough balls with a doughnut-like texture, flavoured with spices and naartjie peel and much darker in colour.
When are koesisters traditionally served?
Koesisters is predominantly a Sunday tradition; however, on occasions such as a Gadat or prayer evenings - which are part of Muslim culture - koesisters definitely bring a sweetness to these happy occasions.
How did you learn to make koesisters?
I used to watch my grandmother, Gabeba Van Oordt, knead the dough and I'd constantly ask her a million questions and she finally answered all.
Your top tip for making them?
As funny as this may sound, making a good koesister dough should be treated like a baby. It requires a lot of attention and your time, so be patient and let the ingredients speak for themselves.
CHEF ABDULLAH'S KOESISTER RECIPE
Makes: about 80
1.5l (6 x 250ml) cups of cake flour
120g(1 cup) self-raising flour
15ml (1 tbsp) dried lemon peel
15ml (1 tbsp) ground cinnamon
10ml (2 tsp) ground ginger
10ml (2 tsp) ground cardamom
20ml (4 tsp) whole aniseed
125ml (½ cup) of sugar
1 x 10g sachet instant yeast
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
375ml (1 ½ cups) boiling water
750ml (3 cups) warm milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 litre vegetable oil
500ml (2 cups) sugar
500ml (2 cups) water
1 small stick cinnamon
1 cardamom pod, crushed
2-3 cinnamon sticks
20g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
250ml (1 cup) desiccated coconut
Mix the flours with peel, spices, sugar, yeast and salt.
- To make the dough, mix the flours with the peel, spices, sugar, yeast and salt.
- Melt butter in boiling water and combine with milk.
- Add to the milk mixture to the dry ingredients with the eggs and mix thoroughly to form a soft, smooth dough. If the texture of the dough is too stiff, add some lukewarm water or milk.
- Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and leave to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place.
- Once risen, moisten your hands with a little oil and roll the dough into small balls in the palm of your hand. Set aside for 15 minutes to rise again.
- Preheat the oil in a medium-sized shallow pan or wok.
- Deep-fry the balls in hot oil for about three minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
- Place all the ingredients for the syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a slow boil, stirring to ensure the sugar does not burn. Stir until the syrup reduces and becomes slightly sticky.
- Add the koesisters to the syrup and boil for 1-2 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon.
- Combine the coconut ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle over the koesisters and serve warm.