Cape Town has a very interesting and diverse culture. During the Dutch occupation of South Africa, the Dutch brought slaves over from Indonesia and Malaysia who would form what is today called the "Cape Coloured" or "Cape Malay" group of people. Although the people look very similar to their Malaysian ancestors, they speak Afrikaans as their first language and their connection to Southeast Asia is only really through blood. Bo Kaap in Cape Town is the Cape Malay quarter where traditionally and to this day, Cape Malay people still make their homes. Colorful houses and Halaal restaurants line the streets.
On a Friday morning, I ventured into Bo Kaap with a friend just touring the area on foot. As we had afternoon tea planned later on that day, we didn't want to eat too much of a breakfast, so decided to grab something light at Biesmiellah Restaurant, a Cape Malay favorite in Bo Kaap. Although delicious favorites like chicken curries and bobotie lined the menu, I just wanted something simple and delicious. Cape Malay food is a mixture of Malay, Indian and African and it is reflected in the spices and flavors. I ordered a pot of chai tea and a potato wada, a deep-fried potato snack of Indian origin. My friend ordered a Cape Malay koeksister. The koeksister is a South African twisted donut, but the Cape Malay variety is a bit different. Cooked in brown sugar syrup, it is then adorned with desiccated coconut.
My chai tea came promptly, smooth and milky with just the right level of strength. Real cardamom pods and other spices were found in the pot among inspection and the tea was hot but not too hot. It was so nice to sit their sipping a local blend in the midst of Bo Kaap, taking in the magnificent amalgam of culture so vividly displayed in the people and their cuisine.