WATCH | Sisters pass on secret ingredients to preserve culture through cooking

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  • Shenaaz and Sydda Essop grew up in the Karoo, where their mother taught them how to cook Indian food.
  • Their grandmother arrived in South Africa from India in 1902.
  • Sydda Essop published a recipe book in 2012 called Karoo Kitchen.

Sisters Shenaaz and Sydda Essop have eaten the same lamb curry since childhood.

The recipe was passed down the generations after their grandmother arrived in South Africa from India in 1902.

Both women believe food connects people and that the kitchen is the heart of every home.

Sydda spent five years travelling the Karoo interviewing people about their culinary heritage and in 2012, she published the recipe book Karoo Kitchen

"I wanted to know about their stories, the problems they had, the challenges they faced during the apartheid times, and the English and Afrikaans women, their side of the story. So the Karoo Kitchen is about that,” she told News24.

She believes cooking family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation "binds you to your roots".

Her daughter Amrain Ismail-Essop has been taught the family's secret ingredients to make the perfect Indian lamb curry. 

Karoo Kitchen
Sisters Shenaaz and Sydda Essop learnt how to cook from their mother and grandmother. Their grandmother arrived in South Africa in 1902, bringing with her a rich culinary heritage. Now, the sisters are passing on the secret ingredients to preserving culture through cooking to their children and grandchildren.
Cooking
Cooking is a family affair.
Heritage Day
Sydda spent five years travelling the Karoo interviewing people about their culinary heritage. And in 2012, she published the recipe book 'Karoo Kitchen'.
Heritage Day
Sydda's daughter Amrain Ismail-Essop has been taught the family's secret ingredients to the perfect Indian lamb curry.
Heritage Day
Shenaaz Essop in the kitchen.

She believes food has the power to bridge the cultural divide and has already passed on her culinary skills to her 14-year-old daughter, Sophia. 

"I think it's an amazing access point into the other person's identity," she said.

"So, for instance, if you have a group of friends, bringing them together and they're all from a multicultural background, and you've got someone cooking their traditional dish, it's kind of an inroad into understanding that person on an intimate level. Food is intimacy. Food is love," she added.



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