cape malay food

Malay cooking class in Bo-Kaap

Bianca (admin at African Heart Travel) went on to try a Malay cooking class in Bo-Kaap district; she tells you all about this unique fun experience.

Unique to the Western Cape of South Africa, Cape Malay cuisine fuses African traditional food with that of the Malaysian and Indonesian flavours brought over by the Dutch slaves in the early 18th century. A blend of spices (ginger, fennel, star anise, tamarind, and turmeric) gives the food a distinctive aromatic quality. Stews, roasts, and sauce-heavy curries are popular in Malay cuisine.

Within the predominantly Muslim neighbourhood of the Bo Kaap, with houses painted every colour from hot pink to lime green and orange, lies the home of Faldela; who will be our host and culinary teacher for the afternoon. A local food lover, she is one of several women in the area offering informal cooking classes out of her home and waits to greet us with a warm smile on her doorstep.

Infusing her lesson with interesting bits of information into her cultural ways and customs, Faldela shows us the difficult task of folding onion-and-cheese-filled samoosas. With patience she demonstrates how to sprinkle heaped spoonsful of spices over a saucy onion base for chicken curry (it’s more about the feel than learning exact recipes, she explains). We learn how to prepare the dough for home-made roti (a buttery, flaky flatbread) and deep-fried dhaltjies (a small round chilli bite).

We slice, fold dough and laugh our way through the 2.5 hour lesson as she chatters away about how meals play a central role in religious ceremonies and how curry should always be cooked with the lid off. How she, and the vast majority of other Malay women, first acquired the tricks of the trade from their mothers and grandmothers, passed down through the generations.

As our lesson winds down, we sit down around her kitchen table and enjoy the feast before us in a delightfully social setting. We end the afternoon strolling through the cobbled streets of the Bo Kaap, our bellies full and having a sense of fulfilment that comes with an authentic Cape experience.

Wanna try it out? Ask us, we will include this authentic experience to your next trip to South Africa. Check out our amazing itinerary in Cape Town with friends.

red billed buffalo weaver

Who are the little 5?

The term Little 5 was brought to life after the marketing success of the Big 5 for tourist safaris in Southern Africa. Each shares a part of its name with one of the more well-known large animals of the Bushveld. So who are the “little 5”? Here they are :

  1. Elephant Shrew (Macroscelidea) – a small, insect-eating mammal with a long nose. Very common in Southern Africa but seldom seen. One of the fastest small mammals, recorded to reach speeds of 28.8 km/hour.
  2. Buffalo Weaver Bird (Bubalornis niger) – tend to live in dry savannahs and sparse woodlands, observed in small family groups or in large flocks. Easiest among the little 5 to find and observe as they breed in colonies.
  3. Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) – a large and attractively marked tortoise found in the savannas of eastern and southern Africa. Typical adults reach 40cm and weighing 13kg . Their diet consists of a wide variety of plants including forbs, thistles, grasses, and succulents. They will sometimes gnaw on bones or even hyena faeces to obtain calcium. Watch this leopard trying to catch poor little tortoise in a Nat Geo Wild show.
  4. Ant Lion (Myrmeleontidae) – at times mistakenly identified as dragonflies or damselflies, the adult has two pairs of long, narrow, multiveined, translucent wings and a long slender abdomen. When they’re in their larval stage, they are fearsome looking beasts with hairy bodies and sickle-shaped jaws.
  5. Rhinoceros Beetle (Scarabaeidae) – These curious looking creatures are named for their body armor and for the hooked horn that graces the head of the male. They can reach up to 5cm but despite their large size and ferocious appearance, rhinoceros beetles are completely harmless to humans as they cannot bite or sting. Over 300 species of rhino beetles in the world.

So what do you think? You’d like to track the little 5 too? Join us on safari in Africa !!


10 interesting facts about Pretoria

Official capital city of Namibia, Pretoria is famous for its blooming jacarandas. Here are some 10 interesting facts about Pretoria :

  1. Pretoria’s main street, formerly know as Church Street (now called Stanza Bopape) is the longest urban street in South Africa & one of the longest straight streets in the world.
  2. Many of its streets are lined with Jacaranda trees that blossom mauve (purplish blue) in spring giving the city its nickname “Jacaranda City“.
  3. Pretoria was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, a leader of the Voortrekkers, who named it after his father Andries Pretorius.
  4. The Cullinan Diamond (the largest diamond ever found) was discovered near the city in 1905.
  5. The University of Pretoria (Tuks) is the largest residential university in South Africa and provides education for over 50,000 students.
  6. During the Anglo-Boer war, Winston Churchill was imprisoned in the Staats Model Skool (School) in Pretoria.
  7. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa, the seat of the executive arm of government.
  8. The union buildings were built in 1913 and designed by architect Sir Herbert Baker and are where all new presidents are sworn into office.
  9. There are more than 40 embassies in Pretoria.
  10. Mrs Ples, the nickname for what is considered one of the oldest intact skulls of a distant ancestor of humankind, is housed at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria.

Discover Pretoria during our one-of-a-kind itinerary : Slow travel in South Africa