• Cape Malay-style fluffy doughnuts (koeksisters)
The mother and son behind Melbourne’s koeksisters food truck have opened a restaurant.
Audrey Bourget

29 Jan 2019 - 2:21 PM  UPDATED 24 Jan 2019 - 12:52 PM

We’re always up for trying different types of doughnuts, and the latest to catch our eye are the South African koeksisters (pronounced cook-sisters).

They come in two versions. The ones you’ll see more often are the twisted koeksisters, originating from the Afrikaans community. The dough (made with plain flour) is plaited, pan fried in oil, then soaked into a ginger syrup. The result is perfectly sticky and crunchy.

But we also love its cousin, the Cape Malay koeksister, with its fluffy, cake-like texture. Made with flour and sweet potato, the dough is spiced with a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and aniseed. They are pan-fried, glazed with cinnamon syrup and covered in coconut or other toppings. This type is especially popular in Cape Town and down the South African coast.

Lucky for us, the owners of Ostrich & The Egg, mother and son duo Maureen and Gary Andrews, come from the coastal town of Port Elizabeth, where they ate both.

“The batter is very sticky so a machine can’t process it, they have to be done by hand, one by one,” explains Gary Andrews. “Traditionally, we ate the koeksisters on Sunday as a breakfast snack. You’d wake up Sunday morning, make a fresh batch with cinnamon and have it with your coffee or tea.”

If you want to buy them in South Africa, it’s by the dozen or half dozen. “You’d go to the old lady in the neighbourhood making the best koeksisters. You’d have to order them for Sunday, place your order in the week and you go pick it up fresh,” says Gary Andrews. At Ostrich & the Egg, you can buy a single one or as many as you like, from 9 am and throughout the day (or while stock lasts). In addition to the two classics, they also make the Cape Malay koeksisters with a mocha or a pistachio and sesame crumble. 

South African nostalgia

When they launched their food truck, Maureen and Gary Andrews wanted to focus on doughnuts.

“It was never supposed to be a restaurant. We were supposed to sell doughnuts and tea, but people would come and ask for more. ‘Where’s the bobotie? Where’s the bunny chow? Where’s the samosa?’,” says Maureen Andrews.

It led to the opening of a permanent 20-seater eatery in St Kilda, with a menu full of these beloved South African classics, cooked in a tiny open kitchen.

The bunny chow, a hollowed-out bread filled with a mild chicken or vegetable curry, is especially popular. “It’s a very Durban dish with an Indian influence. The idea was that, traditionally, the workers didn’t have bowls so they used the bread as a bowl, put the curry in and eat it out of the bag,” explains Gary Andrews. “There’s a lot of nostalgia with the bunny chow. You can have it for lunch or dinner or after a party, like your souvlaki or kebab.”

Other favourites include the boerewors (a beef and pork sausage) scrolls, masala salt fries, biltong (from South African butcher Tony’s Quality Meats) and pickled fish (usually eaten at Easter with a hot cross bun).

“We try to do everything from scratch as much as possible so we can replicate the flavours from home,” says Gary Andrews. If you’re not familiar with South African cuisine, Gary and Maureen will be more than happy to give you a crash course and prepare you a plate so you can taste a few things.

Ostrich & the Egg

Tue – Sat 9 am– 3 pm and 5 – 9 pm
Sun 9 – 3 pm

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