Home Recipes Healthy Recipes Recipe: A Cape Malay classic with a veggie twist

Recipe: A Cape Malay classic with a veggie twist

So, you thought there wasn’t a veggie alternative for the Cape Malay pickled fish?


Like many other South Africans, I will be spending my Easter weekend with friends and family, sitting around a dinner table packed with traditional Easter delights.

To me, Easter is more than just a well-deserved long weekend break during the first half of the year. It is a time to yank out the old family recipe book and start cooking. When I think of Easter and food I see hot cross buns, lamb leg roasts and, being a Capie, I can’t help to think of the traditional Cape Malay pickled fish dish.

I’m a big fan of any curry dish and I get quite excited about Cape Malay pickled fish. However, since my transition to a plant-based diet, I knew I had to find a way to recreate this yummy classic.

I decided to substitute the fish with battered, deep-fried cauliflower. It is sort of a trend nowadays and I have not tried it before so why not kill two fish nuggets with one stone?

I must be honest, I was not too excited about the prospects of this alternative recipe, because let’s face it, you can’t really top Cape Malay pickled fish. But to my surprise, the result blew me away!

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And the best thing about this dish is that you can store it for up to two months if you seal your jars correctly. But, believe me, once you’ve tasted this recipe, I doubt it will last that long.

Make this Cape Malay pickled cauliflower

Pickled cauliflower is the perfect plant-based replacement for the Cape Malay pickled fish. Photo: Dané Vermeulen

Battered, deep-fried cauliflower:


1 cauliflower head

500ml vegetable oil (for frying)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1¼ cup soy milk (or your choice of alternative milk)

¼ teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger



  1. To prepare your cauliflower, cut the blooms into bite size pieces and try to remove most of the stem.
  2. Keep in mind that they can double in size once you batter and fry them.
  3. Set the cauliflower blooms aside and start preparing your batter by adding all your dry ingredients into a medium to large bowl and mix well.
  4. Add the milk and mix the ingredients until a smooth texture. Place your cauliflower blooms in the batter and mix them until each bloom is coated with the batter.
  5. Place your oil in a pot on medium heat.
  6. Test the heat of your oil by placing a cauliflower bloom in the oil, it should reach a golden-brown colour within 1 to 2 mins.
  7. If your oil is too hot your batter will burn on the outside and still be raw on the inside.
  8. If the oil is not hot enough your cauliflower will be overcooked, so try not to cook it for more than 2 mins.
  9. Once cooked, place your fried blooms in a bowl lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Curry pickle sauce:

Make this no-FOMO pickled cauliflower this Easter. Photo: Dané Vermeulen


30ml olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

1 heaped teaspoon cumin

1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander

5 allspice seeds

2 heaped teaspoons turmeric

3 heaped teaspoons curry powder

1 heaped teaspoon Mother-in-law curry powder (optional for a hotter sauce)

1 heaped teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3 bay leaves

500ml water

500ml white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Maizena powder

Fresh coriander leaves


  1. Fry the onions in a large pot on high heat in olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and stir while frying the ingredients for about 2 mins. Lower your stove plate to a medium heat and mix in the sugar.
  3. Once mixed, add the water and vinegar and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Leave the pickle sauce to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Once the curry pickle has reduced to about two thirds, prepare the Maizena in a cup of cold water and add to the mixture and wait until it thickens.
  5. In two large jars start layering your sauce and deep-fried cauliflower blooms. Make sure each cauliflower layer is immersed in the curry pickle.
  6. It is important to pot your ingredients while the sauce is hot because this will ensure that the deep-fried cauliflower blooms will soak up all the flavour of the sauce. Close each jar with a lid and set aside to cool. Once cooled store it in the fridge.
  7. To serve, place your pickled cauliflower on a bed of finely sliced red cabbage and top it off with some fresh coriander leaves.

5/5 (1 Review)
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Dané Vermeulen
Dané Vermeulen
Dané Vermeulen is a food enthusiast with a strong belief in using fresh produce when cooking. She combines her love for food and photography to share her passions with the world. Her thirst for knowledge keeps her on the top of her game and ready to jump into any conversation, no matter the topic. She has a BSc degree in Biodiversity and Ecology from the University of Stellenbosch and she is a freelance writer for Food For Mzansi.


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