The best koesister recipes are found among the aunties, so I used the one and only Fatima Sydow’s Koesister Recipe on YouTube. She’s unfortunately not with us any longer but I’m sure she’ll celebrate anyone who decides to make one of the many Cape Malay recipes she shared with all of us.

I for searched a few recipes and some add mashed potato and others don’t, so feel free to use Fatima Sydow’s recipe where she adds mashed potato – Fatima Sydow Koesister Recipe with Mashed Potato. I didn’t have naartjie peels so had to sadly skip that step but adding the naartjie peel is really what makes this recipe so try and add some if you can. I also made the recipe by hand but if you don’t want to put in the elbow grease then feel free to use a stand mixer.

Here in South Africa we have the Koeksister and koesister which can easily be confused with one another because they sound similar but look and taste very different. A koeksister is from Dutch descent and the koesister from the Cape Malays. The one is a dough that’s shaped into a ribbon, deep fried and dunked in an ice cold spiced syrup which results a sweet and crispy dessert. The Cape Malay version is usually oval shaped dough that’s heavily spiced, deep fried and then dunked in a warm spiced syrup and coated in unsweetened desiccated coconut which results in a soft, sweet and fragrant dessert. So same same but different.

If you haven’t made or eaten a koesister before then I’d say go for it because it truly is delicious. The spices with the soft and airy dough that slightly crispy and beautifully sweet thanks to that syrup is perfection. It almost has a hot cross bun feel to it.

Below the recipe you’ll find the recipe notes guiding you on any additional details regarding the ingredients used. Enjoy making these, and as always, happy big tasty bites, tastebuds.

Check the recipe video below to get an idea of how to make this!

Cape Malay Koesisters

A simple spiced yeast dough shaped into oval balls and deep fried until golden brown, then boiled in a light fragranced syrup and lastly coated in desiccated coconut. It's flavourful, moist and seriously addictive! Original recipe creator: Fatima Sydow.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cape Malay, South African
Keyword: baking
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 25 Koesisters
Author: The Big Tasty Bite


  • 1 large glass bowl
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 2 large saucepans


Koesister Dough

  • 625 grams regular flour
  • 3 tbsp aniseed whole or ground
  • 2.5 tbsp cinnamon ground
  • 10 grams instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp cardamom ground
  • 1 tbsp ginger ground
  • 3 tsp naartjie ground or zest
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300 ml water boiling
  • 250 ml milk cold
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • ΒΌ cup castor sugar
  • 1 large egg

Koesister Syrup

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  • 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut


  • In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together and mix well. *You could also use a stand mixer if you want to simplify the process.
  • In a jug, add the boiling water, cold milk, melted butter and sugar together. Stir until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add half of the liquid to the dry ingredients, as well as the scrambled egg. Mix until just combined. Add the remainder of the liquid and mix until well combined. Keeping the dough in the large bowl, knead it for 8-10 mins. This is quite a mission if you're kneading by hand because the dough's so sticky. The dough will be very wet so before allowing it to rest, coat the sides and top off the dough with a touch of vegetable oil.
  • Cover with clingwrap and allow to rest for 1hr to 1hr 30 mins in a warm place. The dough should double in size.
  • Next, knock down the dough and using a little oil on your hands, shape little oblong shapes (resist the urge to make them too big) and place on a lightly dusted surface. Allow to rise wile you wait for the oil to warm up.
  • Bring a large saucepan to a medium-high heat. Place the back of a wooden spoon in the oil, if you see small bubble forming around the spoon, your oil is ready. Once you've added your first batch of koesisters to the oil, lower the heat to medium so that they cook all the way though and don't burn. They should be amber in colour on both sides. Remove from the oil and place on a kitchen towel.
  • To make the syrup, in a large saucepan, add the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cardamom together and bring to a light simmer. It should be bubbling and a little less runnier than water.
  • In batches, add the koesister to the bubbling syrup and allow to soak up the syrup, slipping each one, allowing it to soak up the syrup evenly. Poking holes in the koesister with a toothpick is also a goo idea, if you'd like the koesister to soak up more of the syrup. Allow the koesisters to soak for 1-2mins. Coat each one with the desiccated coconut and enjoy! Best served warm.


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