Celeb chef Fatima Sydow's recipes to mark the end of Ramadan

The popular caterer will be preparing a delicious prawn chaat and crowd-pleasing baked cheesecake from her latest cookbook, 'Fatima Sydow Cooks'

02 May 2021 - 00:01 By hilary biller
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Fatima Sydow is passionate about sharing her love of Cape Malay cooking.
Fatima Sydow is passionate about sharing her love of Cape Malay cooking.
Image: Henk Hattigh/Human and Rousseau

"I've made a career out of cooking and even though I've worked very hard over the years, I've enjoyed every second of it. I'm in my happy place," says caterer Fatima Sydow, who many will recognise as one half of the duo behind the TV show Cape, Curry & Koesisters.

"My bedroom is next to my kitchen and when I wake up in the morning I take a few steps and I'm at work. I do a happy dance and then I begin my day of recipe testing and tasting. This is what I was born to do: bring people together through food."

The celeb chef recently brought out a new cookbook, Fatima Sydow Cooks (Human and Rousseau, R360); she'll be making some of the delicious dishes featured in it to mark the end of Ramadan.

Here, she shares some of these recipes and tells us more about her passion for engaging with her fans on social media:

It is always important to me to stay connected with my followers on social media. It started with 500 followers about eight years ago and to date Fatima Sydow Cooks on Facebook, Instagram and my YouTube channel has close to 640,000 followers combined — and climbing. The number of followers grew the more I shared, not just of my food recipes and journey but also of myself on a personal level. What motivates me every day is the feedback I get.

My very first cookbook, Cooking with Fatima Sydow, I self-published to honour a request from my devoted social media followers to have a book with all my recipes. At the time what it did was awaken the memories of me as a young girl dreaming of having my own cookbook. I had very little resources and I put this book together with a few pennies to my name, a two-plate mini oven and the guidance of my beloved late mother, Wasiela Sydow, with what she taught me. Yes, it was lots of recipes but on top of the list was to start with the most important ingredient, love.

'Fatima Sydow Cooks' is published by Human and Rousseau, R360.
'Fatima Sydow Cooks' is published by Human and Rousseau, R360.
Image: Henk Hattigh/Human and Rousseau

Sweet or savoury? I love cooking savoury dishes as I'm not much of a sweet tooth, but when it comes to describing myself in regards to cooking I would call myself a bit of an all-rounder. A bietjie of this and a bietjie of that.

During lockdown the dishes that brought me most comfort were the ones which had the most sentimental story and memories. My brown lentil curry, split-pea soup, smoortjies (tomato and onion relish) and the offal dishes like tripe and liver. These meals reminded me of my parents and siblings I miss dearly, and our times together eating these foods, so I felt a bit closer to them when I cooked them.

The Ramadan fast is almost over and in preparation for Eid-ul-Fitr I'll be preparing the dishes from my latest cookbook for the celebration. These include prawn chaat, crayfish curry, baked cheesecake and a lobster salad. I selected these dishes as they are quick to make and the theme of my celebration this year is seafood, which I love. The baked cheesecake I chose because it's so decadent and serves many.



"If you want a rich and decadent prawn dish, look no further. The creamy, tangy and mildly spicy sauce is filled with the flavours of the ocean," says Sydow. "Serve the chaat on special occasions or as a starter when you have guests over for dinner - it is sure to impress!"

Prawn chaat.
Prawn chaat.
Image: Henk Hattigh/Human and Rousseau

Serves: 4


40g butter

15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, grated

5ml (1 tsp) ground cumin

10ml (2 tsp) paprika

5ml (1 tsp) turmeric

15ml (1 tbsp) seafood masala

15ml (1 tbsp) leaf masala

5ml (1 tsp) salt

15ml (1 tbsp) tomato paste

800g prawns, deveined

500ml (2 cups) fresh cream

Fresh coriander, chopped, for garnishing

Fresh lemon juice, to serve


  1. In a pan, heat the butter and olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onions are soft.
  2. Next, add all the spices, salt and tomato paste and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the spices separate from the oil.
  3. Add the prawns and stir.
  4. Add the fresh cream and cook uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for a few minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  6. Sprinkle over the coriander and add a squeeze of lemon. Serve with roti or basmati rice.


Says Sydow: "I remember the first time I tried my hand at a baked cheesecake many, many years ago. I must admit I was a bit nervous and, just my luck, my twin sister Gadija, who is a master baker, decided to pop in. The pressure was on. When she took her first bite, I instantly knew that she loved it. She looked up and said, 'I want this recipe!' My day was made."

Baked cheesecake.
Baked cheesecake.
Image: Henk Hattigh/Human and Rousseau

Serves: 12

Biscuit base:

1 packet Tennis biscuits

125ml (½ cup) almonds, roasted

125ml (½ cup) walnuts, roasted

100g butter, melted


6 x 250g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

500ml (2 cups) sour cream, at room temperature

500ml (2 cups) caster sugar

45ml (3 tbsp) fresh lemon juice

15ml (1 tbsp) vanilla essence

60ml (¼ cup) cake flour

30ml (2 tbsp) cornflour

5 large eggs

To decorate:

Fresh berries, optional

250ml (1 cup) sour cream, mixed with

30ml (2 tbsp) sugar and a dash of vanilla essence (optional)


  1. For the biscuit base: in a food processor, blitz the biscuits into fine crumbs, then pour into a bowl. Next, blitz the nuts in the food processor until almost fine but with a few bigger pieces. Add the blitzed nuts and the melted butter to the biscuit crumbs and mix to combine.
  2. Spoon the biscuit-base mixture into a buttered 24cm springform tin and press down firmly onto the base and halfway up the sides of the tin.
  3. Take two square sheets of foil and tightly wrap the sides and bottom of the tin. Put the tin in a deep roasting pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  5. For the filling: In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the eggs, and beat well for about 2 to 3 minutes, or well combined.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy and add to the cream cheese mixture. Mix only until just combined.
  7. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared tin and level the top with a spatula.
  8. Place the filled tin, in the deep roasting pan, into the preheated oven, leaving the oven door ajar. Carefully pour a standard-sized kettle of boiling water (about 8 cups) into the roasting pan. Close the oven door and bake for 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. Open the oven slightly and allow the cheesecake to cool for 1 hour in the oven.
  10. Take the roasting pan with the cheesecake out of the oven and carefully remove the springform tin from it. Remove the foil and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 2 hours.
  11. Lightly cover with foil and place in the fridge overnight.
  12. Remove the cake from the tin. Top with fresh berries or a layer of sour cream mixture.

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