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This Sunday is the very first World Koesister Day and if you’re as excited about this as I am then you’re definitely going to want to whip up a batch of my naartjie koesisters, a twist on Cariema Isaacs’ traditional Cape Malay recipe! 

Now, I’m ashamed to say that while I’ve eaten my body weight in koesisters, I’ve never actually made a batch myself. When I’ve found myself even remotely near the Bokaap on a Sunday, best believe I’m stopping by Rose’s Cafe for the still-warm coconut-coated spiced piece of heaven which is a koesister. And you can never just have one! If, like me, you’ve never made your own koesisters, then this Sunday, the very first World Koesister Day, is about as good a day as any to give them a go! 

What is a koesister? 

Nope, there’s no spelling error. We’re celebrating the Cape Malay KOEsister, which is very different from the koeksister (with two k’s) of Dutch origin. Having almost the same name is where the similarities between these two traditional South African bakes ends. While a koeksister is crunchy and drenched in thick syrup, the koesister is more like a doughnut – spiced, soaked in syrup and rolled in coconut. As Vannie Kaap so eloquently put it, ‘Koesisters are vetkoeke that believed in miracles’. (Side note: they have this on aprons – NEED!)

1 September is World Koesister Day 

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a koek-off between Radisson Red Chef, Naseer and renowned Cape Malay cookbook author Cariema Isaacs where they competed for the best koesister kudos (and we got to taste!) when they announced the inaugural World Koesister Day. If you think you’ve got the best koesisters in the land, then make sure to head to the Radisson Red Hotel this Sunday (with your plate of koesisters) and enter to win the title of the Kwaiest KOEsister!  

How to make a Cape Malay Koesister

I have huge respect for the tradition of so many Cape Malay women who woke up at goodness knows what hour on a Sunday morning to have a plate of warm koesisters ready for their family. And as I’m no expert in Cape Malay baking, I relied on the recipe and instructions of arguably the most famous Cape Malay cook, Cariema Isaacs. I used her koesister recipe (which was taught to her by her mom-in-law) straight from her book ‘My Cape Malay Kitchen‘. I added my own twist of naartjie zest (in the dough) and naartjie zest (in the syrup) and doubled up on the spices as I love my koesisters extra spicy!  

Will you be making koesisters for World Koesister Day this weekend? 

Naartjie Koesisters
Serves 24
A spiced Cape Malay doughnut soaked in syrup and covered with coconut.
Print
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr 20 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup (60ml) caster sugar
  2. 3 cups (750ml) cake flour
  3. 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) baking powder
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 5g (1/2 packet) instant yeast
  6. 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  7. 2 tsp ground ginger
  8. 1 tsp ground cardamom
  9. 4 tsp whole aniseed seeds
  10. zest of 2 naartjies
  11. 30g melted butter or margarine
  12. 1 large egg
  13. 375ml warm milk
  14. 1/2 cup (125ml) self-raising flour, for dusting
  15. Vegetable, sunflower or canola oil, for frying
  16. SYRUP
  17. 250ml white sugar
  18. 250ml naartjie juice
  19. 1 star anise
  20. 1 cinnamon stick
  21. 1 cup desiccated coconut, for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter, eggs and just enough milk to form a sticky dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a clean, well-oiled bowl, cover with clingwrap and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
  4. One the dough has risen, dust your work surface with self-raising flour and form the dough into a long log shape about 5cm wide. Use a knife to divide the log into 24 pieces - each piece of dough should the size of a small lime. Form the dough balls into oval shapes and stretch it gently so it's 5-6 cm long and 3cm wide.
  5. Place on well-floured baking tray, cover with greased clingwrap and allow to rise for about 30 minutes or until puffed up.
  6. Preheat the oil to 180 degrees celsius and fry the koesisters 3-4 at a time until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towel and set aside to cool while you make the syrup.
  7. To make the syrup, place the sugar, naartjie juice and spices in a saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat down and simmer gently.
  8. While the syrup is simmering, place the koesisters in the syrup and cook for 1-2 minutes, turning over regularly.
  9. Remove from the syrup and sprinkle with coconut. They are best served hot!
Adapted from from Cariema Isaacs Koesisters from My Cape Malay Kitchen
Adapted from from Cariema Isaacs Koesisters from My Cape Malay Kitchen
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