22 February 2011 by Robyn Campbell

Malay magic with Martha

Spice-rich and fragrant rather than fiery hot, Cape Malay food is a blend of east-Asian cuisines honed in the kitchens of the Cape, during the 17th Century, under Dutch rule.

Influenced by flavours and cooking techniques from India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, under the expert tutelage of one of the best Cape Malay cooks in Cape Town, you can learn the art of this subtle fusion food.

Martha Williams is the ebullient Head Chef at the 5-star Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, and an expert in the authentic methods used in Cape Malay cooking.

The Cape Malay Experience is a hands-on evening cooking class costing R675 per/person (excluding drinks), and includes a 3-course meal, an apron and a cookbook of Martha’s recipes.

Available at the hotel, from Wednesday to Sunday, a private dining area has been converted into a cosy Malay restaurant and demonstration kitchen that can accommodate 15 people.

Participants need only bring a pair of closed, rubber-soled, shoes, and their love of good food.

Guests arrive at 7pm, and after a brief introduction to Cape Malay cuisine, everyone sets to work peeling, chopping, and sautéing. Martha is the consummate host, chatting and joking with the guests whilst ensuring that no one muddles the masala.

Once guests’ chicken curry, dhal curry, and malva pudding are in the oven, they take their seats in the restaurant and tuck into an array of Cape Malay appetisers.

The Cellars-Hohenort is renowned for its wine collection, and their sommelier will personally take you through the wine cellar and make recommendations to match the subtly spiced dishes.

Cooking with Martha equals authentic, easy to prepare dishes, bursting with flavour, and seasoned with anecdotes from Martha’s culinary career.

It’s an irresistible evening of fun fine dining, guaranteed to turn first time chefs into motjie-koks - a colloquial Malay compliment bestowed on good cooks.

For more information, or to book, contact Astrid Groenewald at coordinator@cellars-hohenort.co.za, or call her on +27 (0)21 794 2137.

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