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Elizabeth Dijkman: the mother of Afrikaans cooking

By August 25, 2016October 3rd,

Elizabeth Dijkman: the mother of Afrikaans cooking

August 25, 2016

On this day 176 years ago, Elizabeth Dijkman was born. Of course, few people know this name – but it’s one Afrikaners in particular should pay attention to. Elizabeth would go on to publish the first Afrikaans cooking book called ‘Di Suid Afrikaanse kook-koek en resepteboek, byeenversameld en geskrywe deur mejufvr E J Dijkman’. The book was also published under the name Elizabeth Dykman.


So in honour of Miss Dijkman, we’d like to take a look at all those yummy Afrikaans and South African recipes which we can claim as our own and remind us of home.

South Africa’s favourite recipes


For those who don’t know, bobotie is a South African dish of curried minced meat baked with a rich savoury custard. It used to be a favourite at Sunday lunches and church bazaars.


Image: courtesy of Pick n Pay


  • 2 chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 kg lean minced beef
  • 2 tablespoons mixed cardamom, turmeric, powdered chilli and powdered coriander
  • 2 slices white bread
  • little bit of cold milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons peach chutney
  • 3 tablespoons dried sultanas
  • 6 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 300 ml full cream milk
  • 2 large eggs


  • Heat the oven to 180°C.
  • Pour cold milk over the bread and set it aside to soak.
  • Fry the onions in the butter over low heat for 10 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
  • Add the spice mix of cardamom, chilli, coriander and turmeric
  • Add garlic and mince to the onions and fry until meat changes colour and has a fine grain.
  • Add the herbs, chutney, sultanas and two of the bay leaves.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Squeeze milk from the bread and beat it in with the meat until blended.
  • Tip all ingredients into an ovenproof dish.
  • Press the mixture down and smooth the top.
  • Beat the milk and eggs and pour over the meat.
  • Top the dish with the remaining bay leaves.
  • Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until the topping turns golden.

Melktert (milk tart)

Milk tart is one of South Africa’s favourite desserts – a creamy cinnamon flavoured filing set on a sweet pastry crust.


Image: courtesy of Lifestyle


  • 170 g butter
  • 225 mL sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 545 ml sifted flour
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 1 ml salt
  • 1 L milk
  • 25 ml corn starch
  • 45 ml custard powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 7 ml powdered cinnamon


  • Heat oven to 200°C.
  • Cream 125 g of butter and 125 ml of sugar until soft and creamy.
  • Beat 1 egg into the mixture.
  • Add 500 ml flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Knead lightly.
  • Place in a sealed container and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Roll out the dough and use it to fill two tart containers/pans.
  • Refrigerate further to prevent shrinking.
  • Prick the bottom of the raw tart crust with a fork and bake for 10 – 20 minutes.
  • Put the remaining milk and butter in a pot and bring it to the boil and remove from heat.
  • Beat remaining eggs, sugar, corn starch, custard powder, flour and vanilla essence and mix well.
  • Pour a little bit of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and shake well.
  • Pour the two mixtures together and beat well.
  • Place over a low heat and cook slowly until it thickens, stirring constantly.
  • Pour the mixture into the cooled tart crusts and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Refrigerate until cool.

Mealie bread

Mealie bread is another South African favourite – a yummy bread made from sweetcorn and enjoyed with a good dollop of butter while warm.


Image: courtesy of Stork


  • 250 ml fresh corn
  • 250 ml sweetcorn
  • 350 g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 30 ml warm milk
  • 30 ml buttermilk
  • 2 ml paprika
  • 5 ml salt
  • 60 g unsalted melted butter


  • Preheat oven to 170°C.
  • Mix together corn, sweetcorn, eggs, salt, sugar, milk, buttermilk and 30 g of butter together.
  • Mix in the flour and paprika to make a dough.
  • Brush a bread tin with butter and dust with flour.
  • Pour the bread mixture into the tin.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until lightly golden and well risen.
  • Brush the remaining butter over the top of the bread to soften.

Beef potjiekos

The South African version of the stew is really more of a social event than mere cooking. This slow-cooked hearty meal is prepared over a fire in a big pot.


Image: courtesy of Home Dzine


  • 120 ml sweet sherry
  • 120 ml soy sauce
  • 60 ml tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 ml dried rosemary
  • 2 ml dried thyme
  • 1 cube beef stock
  • 500 ml boiling water
  • 1 kg stewing beef
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 baby marrow
  • 4 patty pans
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 125 ml dried apricots
  • 1 peeled tomato
  • 250 ml cabbage
  • 30 ml cooking oil
  • 30 ml dried parsley
  • Salt to taste


  • Prepare your fire and coals for the potjie.
  • Peel and half potatoes.
  • Chop all your vegetables separately.
  • Heat the oil in the pot and brown the meat.
  • Add the onions and brown with the meat.
  • Mix together sherry, soy sauce, pepper, mustard, rosemary, thyme, tomato paste, beef stock and boiling water.
  • Add the sauce to your pot, stir, cover with lid and simmer for 1.5 hours.
  • Add the apricots on top, then the veggies, potatoes and top with cabbage – don’t stir as it needs to be layered.
  • Cover with lid and allow to simmer for two hours.

Now you’d better get to the store to grab some ingredients as we’re sure you’ll want to prepare your favourite South African dishes this weekend.

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