Koesister vs Koeksister

If you call yourself a South African, then surely you are quite familiar with koeksisters. A decadent sweet treat that drips of the syrup. I am particularly fond of a koeksister myself. To illustrate just how much I like it, I’ll share with you a flashback from primary school where I had to sell koeksisters to raise funds for a netball tour to the Western Cape. Instead of selling it, I “accidentally” ate most of the koeksisters myself…so basically my mom had to cough up and thus, my fundraising effort wasn’t that successful…*blush*
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Koesisters. Image via Splitpearsonality.blogspot.com
Koeksisters. Image via Pinterest

When I moved to Cape Town I remember being at a friend’s house one afternoon for some sort of celebration – I can’t remember if it was a birthday or what – and she asked me to go fetch the koesisters in the kitchen. After about 10 minutes of not returning, my friend came to the kitchen to see what was taking so long. Of course I couldn’t find the flipping stuff…or at least not the stuff I thought I was looking for. It turned out that the koesisters were right in front of me, but that’s just it – it was koesisters, not koeKsisters. There is a big difference (not just the missing “k”). Where koeksisters are very popular in Afrikaans households, koesisters are loved by the Cape Malay community and are to be enjoyed most commonly on Sundays.

Before this incident I never knew of the existence of koesisters, which, unlike the plaited, syrup coated koeksisters I know and love, are little rounded shapes of dough, boiled in syrup, more spicy (spiced with aniseed, cinnamon, ginger and naartjie peel) than sweet and covered with desiccated coconut.


I searched the interwebs for a nice recipe for Cape Malay koesisters, geez, there are hundreds! I finally decided on one I found on the Getaway Blog, so if you would like to try your hand at making your own, here’s a recipe:


Rukeya Gamiet’s Cape Malay koesisters


Makes 40 to 45 koesisters


700 g cake flour

50 g ground cinnamon
20 g ground ginger
10 ml ground aniseed
10 g instant yeast
10 ml (dried and ground) naartjie peel
100 g butter
200 ml lukewarm milk
1 egg, beaten
lukewarm water
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of water
1 cup of desiccated coconut

Mix all the dry ingredients (except the sugar) together. Heat the milk and butter until lukewarm, then add the egg. Add this mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and then add lukewarm water to form a soft dough. Cover and leave the dough to rise until double in size. Take small amounts of dough and form into oval-shaped balls. Deep fry in oil on medium heat until evenly browned. Leave them to cool (around 30 minutes).


In the meantime, heat the sugar and two cups of water on a low heat, stirring continuously until a thick syrup forms. Once the koesisters are cool, boil them in syrup for one minute. Take them out and sprinkle with coconut.


(Source: Cape Malay koesisters recipe, Getaway Blog 2012)


There. Spread your wings and fry away my friends… Let me know how it turned out…



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