Beth’s perfect malva pudding


The first time I ever had malva pudding was in Colesberg, a tiny town in the Karoo, just about halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town. When Ty moved down to Cape Town, he began driving home to Nelspruit for the Christmas holidays, and it became a tradition of his to spend a night in Colesberg on his journey back to Cape Town. When Ty realized I was worthy, he brought me to Nelspruit to meet the parents and eventually let his tradition of stopping in Colesberg on his way home, become ours.

The first time Ty took me to Colesberg, many years ago, we stayed at Gordon’s Cottage and ate dinner at Die Plattelander, which was where I had my first and incredible malva pudding experience. I distinctly remember sitting in the back of the restaurant at a corner table, reading the dessert menu (because I always have room for dessert, especially while on holiday) and asked Ty what malva pudding was. He was shocked and appalled that I had never had this traditional Afrikaans delicacy and immediately ordered us a slice. A dark brown piece of cake arrived slathered in yellow custard. I took my first bite and instantly fell in love with the moist, spongy, cream-soaked cake, with a hint of apricot, and compulsory yellow custard. It was unlike any dessert I had ever had and soooo good!

Over the years, Beth has mentioned her infamous secret malva pudding recipe that I unfortunately have not had the pleasure of tasting (from her kitchen) for some crazy reason! However, a few weeks ago she decided to let me into her inner circle and emailed me the special recipe, which I have been saving for the perfect occasion. This occasion arose last weekend, when we were invited to what turned out to be an Afrikaans foody night which included waterblommetjie bredie (a traditional South African stew with lamb, edible water flows, and potatoes) served with sides of pickled beets, apricots, and gherkins, delicious fresh-herb garlic bread, salad, rice with black-eyed peas, and malva pudding.

When I arrived with my giant dish of malva pudding but not a drop of custard, I was met with looks of despair, which left me feeling worried. How could I have  forgotten such a crucial ingredient!? However, I had faith in Beth’s recipe and new she wouldn’t let me down! Despite their apprehension, everyone politely got a slice, took a bite, and was shocked that the malva pudding was so incredibly delicious even without the customary custard. The level of sweetness and moisture was to perfection and we all concluded that the custard was entirely unnecessary. It was certainly bittersweet to see it disappear before my eyes, as people went back for seconds and thirds, so I look forward to another special occasion that calls upon Beth’s perfect malva pudding.

Beth’s perfect malva pudding

Ingredients (serves 8-10 gigantic slices, perfect for a dinner party)

For the cake

  • 4 tbl margarine/butter
  • 2 cups browns sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tbl apricot jam
  • 2 tsp brown vinegar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
For the sauce
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
Directions
  1. preheat the oven to 180C
  2. in a large bowl, cream together the sugar and margarine
  3. mix in the eggs, jam and vinegar
  4. add the milk
  5. in a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients
  6. pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth
  7. pour the mixture into a deep dish pan
  8. bake in the oven for 1 hour
  9. when there is about 10 minutes to go, in a small pot, bring the water, sugar, and vanilla to a boil, turn the heat down, and stir in the cream
  10. when the hour is up, remove the cake from the oven, pour the sauce on top, and allow it to soak into the hot cake
  11. serve warm on its own (it’s that good) or with custard

Here is the Waterblommetjie Bredie recipe that was used for our delicious feast, straight from chef Sybrand and Adina’s kitchen.  Unfortunately we were so busy devouring our food that we forgot to take pictures of the bredie, so I found these ones online to give you a glimpse of how cool (and beautiful) it is to cook with flowers!

Chef Sybrand and Adina’s recipe pick

Cyril’s Lamb Curry and Tomato Sambal


My love for Indian food developed while growing up in Branford, Connecticut and frequenting Darbar, where my sister and I religiously ordered Chicken Tikka Masala, Basmati Rice, Naan, and Gulab Jamun without question.  So it was not actually Indian food as a whole that I fell in love with but rather this exact meal as an entire food genre in itself. Sadly for my tastebuds, I moved away from Branford when I was a teen but always made it a priority to indulge in memories at Darbar whenever I re-visited.

Luckily over the years, I have stumbled upon a few beautiful diamonds in the rough (the rough being the world beyond Darbar): Curries in Liverpool, England, Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California, Nawab Indian Cuisine in Roanoke, Virginia (if you can believe it!) and Bihari, Eastern Food Bazaar, the Indian Food on UCT Medical Campus, and Cyril’s Curry Cooking Class (talk about alliteration) in Cape Town.  However, I have yet to taste a Chicken Tikka Masala that rivals Darbar’s but will continue my fervent search and hopefully make it back to Darbar one day.

Forever ago I made a conscious decision never to cook my own Chicken Tikka Masala out of fear of creating a dish that was disappointingly inferior.  However, Cyril’s Curry Cooking Class taught me the fine art of making curries and I now feel confident that I could tackle Chicken Tikka Masala should the perfect recipe present itself to me.

Jacquie, my number one cooking partner (besides Ty), and I excitedly signed up for Cyril’s class and every week for one month, Cyril taught us recipes and techniques that his mother taught him, which we will pass on to our children, and our children will pass on to their children, and the tradition will continue.  We brought wine, cooking tools, main ingredients, and enthusiasm.  Cyril provided the expert insight and beautiful homemade spices from his mother and Atlas Trading Company.  At the beginning of the course we were given an in-depth lesson about the botanical origin of Indian spices, the forms, and flavors.  By the end of the course, we had made about a dozen curries, half a dozen salads, breads, rice dishes, and desserts, all of which where absolutely divine, complex, unique, and most importantly, relatively easy to tackle at home without Cyril’s supervision (I hope).

Our messy cooking station

Jacquie, Cyril, and I cookin' curries

Chicken Curry

Out of all the many dishes we cooked, my favorite was the Lamb Curry

Jacquie the Curry Queen

Ingredients (serves 2 + leftovers)

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 roughly chopped onion
  • 2 large tomatoes grated
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 4 star anise petals – the dried unripened fruit of a Southern Chinese tree that is 13x sweeter than sugar
  • 1 piece of cassia bark – the dried outer bark of a Cassia (Chinese cinnamon) tree
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves – the dried unopened flower buds of an evergreen tree and is “the most pungent of all spices”
  • 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder – a rhizome from the ginger family that is “nature’s most vibrantly colored spice”
  • 2 tbsp curry powder – a western term, non-existant in India, which comprises a mixture of spices such as chillies and turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala – added to the dish at the end of cooking “to add a final touch of aromatics”
  • 1 packet of lamb cut into cubes with bone attached
  • 2 green chillies (optional)

Directions

  1. Add oil to pot, bring to medium heat, and add whole spices (star anise, cassia bark, cloves, and bay leaf). This process is called “tempering” which allows for the spice flavors to release and infuse in to the oil. Once the spices have been tempered you can remove them from your dish or keep them in if you are not fussed.
  2. Add onions and fry in oil until golden brown
  3. Add ginger/garlic paste
  4. Immediately add turmeric followed by curry powder
  5. Add the grated tomatoes
  6. Allow this to braise until oil seeps to the top of the surface and tomatoes are cooked
  7. Gently add in the lamb and the green chillies if you can handle the heat
  8. Add water, reduce heat, and cook for 30 minutes (the longer you cook, the softer and scrumptious the meat)
  9. When you are ready to turn off the plate, stir in the garam masala gently, and garnish with fresh coriander and salt to taste

Serve your Lamb Curry with Tomato Sambal, “a perfect accompaniment to curry dishes”

Butternut Curry and Tomato Sambal

Ingredients (serves 2 + leftovers)

  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 chopped cucumber
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 handful of finely chopped fresh coriander
  • salt to taste

Directions

mix all of the ingredients together, add in the vinegar, and season with a dash salt

Jacqs, Ty, and I dishing up our last supper of Lamb Curry, Ricotta Curry, Fragrant Rice, and Soji