Cape Malay Recipes

Cape Malay roti

While touring Cape Town, South Africa I had the opportunity to visit the home of a local resident of the Bo Kaap neighborhood for an afternoon of Cape Malay cooking. To learn more about the experience, read my post on it here: Salt is Love and Other Lessons Learned From a Cape Malay Cooking Experience. I discussed a lot of food in that post, and as promised here are the recipes for the delicious dishes we made that afternoon.

For more information on the Cape Malay Cooking Experience, please check out Andulela Tours. All recipes were provided by master Cape Malay cook Faldela Tolker.


Cape Malay Recipes





  • 750 ml (3 cups) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 ml (1 tsp salt)
  • 50 ml (4 tbsp vegetable oil)
  • Enough water to form soft elastic dough
  • 250 g  (2 1/5 sticks) soft butter
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add oil and rub in with fingertips until fine breadcrumbs form. Add water gradually and mix creating soft elastic dough. Cover and leave in a warm spot for a few minutes. Take dough to form about the size of a tennis ball and roll out on a floured surface to form a disc the size of a dinner plate. Spread butter on dough. Cut slit ¾ up the round shape of dough creating 2 flaps. Roll up each flap like a Swiss roll and “snail” up right end then left end on top of right. Cover with tea towel and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Roll out each disc and fry in hot oil until golden brown (approximately 2 minutes each side). Clap between hands before serving warm with curry.


Samoosas (Samosas)



  • Pur(r) or samosa leaves: Must be purchased fresh (can store for up to 24 hours in fridge). Spring roll pastry can be used as a substitute.

Filling for samosas: Makes 50

  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) minced beef
  • 2 medium onions
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp masala
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp chilly powder or crushed chilies
  • 1 tsp fresh crushed ginger
  • 1 tsp fresh crushed garlic
  • fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • Green or red pepper (optional)

Braise and separate the mince in a big open pan until crumbly (this can take up to ¾ of an hour). Leave to cool. Chop onions and fresh coriander very finely using a very sharp knife so as not to mash or create watery onion bits. Mix together in a bowl with mince.

Mix flour and water to make paste to seal samosas


Dhaltjies (chili bites)


Makes around 20 dhaltjies


  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 250 ml (1 cup) self-raising flour
  • 250 ml (1 cup) chickpea flour
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) turmeric
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) masala
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 5 leaves of spinach, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) salt

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the onions and spinach and mix together well. Make a well in the center of the dough, add the egg and mix. Add around 200 ml to 250 ml water to form a dough. Mix the dough until the texture has an ‘easy drop’ consistency.

Fill a pot halfway with oil and heat so it’s medium-hot (not boiling). Use a spoon dipped in oil to scoop up enough dough to make one dhaltjie (a golf-ball size). Drop the dhaltjie into the oil and fry until cooked in the center (use a skewer stick to poke the center of the dhaltjie to check if it’s cooked). Drain the dhaltjie on paper towel. You can cook around four or five dhaltjies at once, depending on the size of your pot.



Chicken Curry

Serves 6


  • Large onion
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 3 cardamom pods slit
  • 1 large chicken
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • ¾ inch fresh ginger root
  • 1 green chili
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) ground cumin
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) ground coriander
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) masala mix
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) turmeric
  • A few curry leaves
  • Fresh coriander leaves

Fry onion and cardamom pods until the onion is soft. Add chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Crush ginger, garlic and chili and add to chicken. Add cumin, coriander, masala and turmeric spices. Simmer for further 15minutes over low heat. Add curry leaves and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves and serve with sambal or “slaatjie”.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

18 thoughts on “Cape Malay Recipes”

  1. Hi Matt, I was fortunate enough to spend 3 weeks in Oct/Nov 2007 in Cape Town South Africa. I stayed at a hotel in Sea Point and asked the concierge where the best Cape Malay food is served. He recommended the Biesmiellah in the “Bo-Kaap”. It comprises a restaurant, a take-out and a butcher shop. The food was absolutely scrumptious and I used to drive from Sea Point virtually every day to buy samosas, breyani and chicken curry to eat in my hotel room, shunning all other restaurants ;-) Many thanks for your recipes published here. I have just discovered your web page and I am going to try your chicken curry recipe for tonight. One thing I noticed is that none of your recipes contain fennel or cinnamon? Cape Malays actually love the sweeter curries (I was told). I’ll try your recipes as published, and afterward I’ll try them with the addition of said missing ingredients and THEN decide which ones I like.
    Keep up the good work and I hope to see many more comments here.

    Cheers for now
    Mike P.

    1. Thanks Mike and glad we share a same love of Cape Malay food! The recipes are from the Cape Malay cook who taught us and then gave us these written instructions, so you’ll have to ask her about the ‘missing’ ingredients. :) Let me know how everything turns out though!

  2. Hi Matt, Sorry about the tardy reply but have been fairly busy lately. I have tried both recipes (adding a teaspoon of each of fennel and cinnamon) and both were absolutely delicious! The one thing I just can’t get right is the authentic (Biesmillah) taste of the samosas that I try to replicate. I have 3 “Cape Malay” cookbooks and I follow their recipes religiously but can’t replicate the taste. Maybe it’s the different taste of the local spices (here in Australia) but it’s just different. Maybe you can offer some insight?
    Cheers for now.

    1. Great it turned out so well Mike! And sorry, all I know about Cape Malay food is what I was taught in that class. Must be access to particular spices.Close is good though!

  3. Hi Michael and Matt

    Maybe I can help with the “authentic” samoosa taste…

    Try this recipe that I make for my family and they simply love it.

    500 g minced lean beef
    1 onion
    10 ml ginger garlic paste
    10 ml roasted and crushed cumin
    10 ml roasted and crushed coriander
    10 ml roasted and crushed whole red chilli
    3 to 4 green chillies chopped
    handfull of coriander chopped
    10 ml garam masala
    30 ml cooking oil
    5 ml salt

    Heat oil in pan, add in the onions and saute till soft. Add the meat, ginger garlic paste, along with the spices (except for the garam masala) and salt. Simmer till cooked through and mixture is “dry”. Add in the green chillies, coriander and garam masala. Mix and use as filling!

    1. Hi Shehaam,

      Many thanks for your “authentic” Cape Malay Samoosa AND Daltjie recipes. I shall definitely try them “post-haste”. My only question is: can one use “Besan” flour instead of pea/chana flour for the daltjies? I always use the “Packo” chili bite mix (in fact I’m making some this afternoon) which is freely available in Australia at specialist South African shops.

      If it’s not an imposition, is it possible to post a lamb breyani recipe? I last had it in Cape Town at the Biesmiela Restaurant in the Bo-Kaap in 2007 and I’m hanging out for another taste. I was in CT for 3 weeks and had breyani every 2nd day ;-) and Biesmila’s samoosas and daltjjies on the days in between…..a dozen at a time…hehehehe.

      Once again, many thanks, Shehaam.

      Mike (in Oz)

  4. My Daltjie recipe:

    250ml pea/chana flour
    30ml cake flour
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    1 small potato, chopped into little 5 mm blocks
    5 ml fine (roasted & ground) cumin
    5 ml fine (roasted and ground) coriander
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon turmeric
    1 level teaspoon baking powder
    10 ml crushed dried red chillies
    250 ml chopped spinach
    125 ml chopped fresh coriander

    100ml water to mix
    Oil for deep frying


    Add the flours and dry ingredients (cumin, coriander, salt, turmeric, baking powder and dried chillies) into a mixing bowl.
    Add the chopped onion, potato, chopped spinach and enough water to make a stiff mixture. Heat the oil until moderately hot. Do not over heat the oil as the daltjie will brown too quickly and the inside will not have cooked completely. Drop spoonfuls into the hot oil, fry for approximately 3 minutes turning all the time. Drain on absorbent kitchen towels, serve warm.

    If you require any other recipes, feel free to contact me.

  5. Hi Michael

    Apologies for the very, very late response! Besan flour should do the trick. Let me know what the result was.

    As requested, herewith a lovely recipe for Breyani:

    Meat Sauce
    2 onions, finely chopped PLUS oil to sauté onions
    1 kg lamb , washed, trimmed and drained
    20ml garlic and ginger
    2 green chillies
    2 pieces stick cinnamon
    3 cardamom pods
    3 whole cloves
    3 all spice berries
    30 ml ground coriander powder
    15 ml turmeric
    10ml fine cumin
    10 ml fine fennel/ barishap
    15 ml chilli powder
    1 large tomato, grated
    250 ml yoghurt
    125 ml bunch fresh coriander, chopped
    5 ml saffron soaked in boiling water
    250 ml crispy fried onions, well golden
    125 ml cooked lentils, kept aside
    125 ml melted butter
    14 small potatoes, fried in oil

    • Heat oil in large pot. Add onions and sauté until golden. Add meat, ginger and garlic and sauté for 20min add water if necessary.
    • Add all spices and tomato and cook till soft. Lastly add yoghurt and fresh coriander. Cook for a further 10min and until sauce is reduced
    The rice
    • Boil 4 cups rice with 2 stick cinnamon, 3 cloves, 3 all spice berries, 3 cardamom pods, 60ml oil, 20ml salt in 2litres of water until rice is ¾ done. Rice must not be very soft. Drain.
    To assemble
    • Using an oven-proof dish, place a layer of rice at bottom, then a layer of meat sauce, followed by potatoes, lentils and fried onions. Repeat the process until all rice and meat is used, ending off with rice.
    • Sprinkle the top layer of rice with saffron water, melted butter and lentils and onions.
    • Cover with foil and place in oven and allow to steam until heated through.

    Serve with dhai, onion salad and/ or atchar.

    Happy cooking!

    1. Hi Shehaam,
      Many thanks for your Bryan recipe. See also my other post, below.


  6. Hallo Shehaam
    Thanks for all the lovely recipes.
    Would you by chance have a recipe that is similar to the chicken curry (not butter chicken) served at Biesmiellah?
    Thanks very much.

  7. Hi.
    Thanks for the awesome recipes!! Im starting to cook nowadays and therefore need good recipes:) The Daltjie recipe….I have two questions.
    1- instead of pea/chana flour, can i replace that with the chillibite mix and still add cake flour? or should it be self raising flour with baking powder?
    2- i see no egg is added also. so no egg needed right?


  8. Hi Shehaam,
    Many thanks for the breyani recipe. Sorry for my tardy response, but I do not regularly check this site. I shall do so more often in future :-). Also Matt, thanks a ton for regularly maintaining this site. I notice that we have a couple of newcomers in Anne-Marie and Farzana. Welcome to both of you. In answer to Anne-Marie’s query about the ChiliBites, I usually just some extra Besan Flour and extra fresh chilies.
    I was again fortunate enough to spend a month in Cape Town last year (2014) spanning October/November. Guess what was my first port of call? The Biesmilla Restaurant of course, for “fix”….hehehehe.
    Cheers to all and keep this blog ALIVE!

  9. Lizelle Franke

    Hi all.I am looking for a. Dhanya recipe with dhanya,onions,chillies and tamatoes…not sure of all the ingredients and the amounts.thx

  10. I’m born and bred Cape Tonian and the Cape Malay samosa is the best samosa i have yet tasted and the pastry is perfect, not quite phyllo or short crust. As to the filling it differs from person to person so to get an exact copy of what you’ve had on holiday is very difficult, unless you can get them to share their well guarded recipes and in this i wish you well. As i live in Spain now i so miss them, so while on holiday there i went to the Cape Malay quarters in the Bo Kaap and there is a small cafe called Roses and bought a couple of packets of prepared samosa pastry and took a recipe off Salwaa Smith’s samosa fillings Webb site and now enjoy samosas in Spain.

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