“I Am An African, Not Just Because I Was Born In Africa. But Because Africa Was Born In Me.”
Every year on the 24th of September, we South Africans celebrate Heritage Day.
Also called “the rainbow nation”, South Africa is home to many cultures and peoples – so many, in fact, that we have eleven official languages! And on Heritage Day, we celebrate our own culture, beliefs and heritage. But, despite certain politicians looking to promote their own agendas by fuelling conflict between the different groups, on Heritage Day, we also proudly acknowledge that no matter how we may differ from one another, we are united in our love for our country and her treasures.
My specific family is of European origins – German, Dutch, French – who became Afrikaans after settling into South Africa while it was still just the Cape colony under British rule. When I think of my heritage, I think of my maternal grandparents. Most of my happiest childhood memories were made running around barefoot on their farm – walking the sheep back to the kraal, picking strawberries, falling asleep in the old tyre swing, helping my grandmother make pudding for the church bazaar, picking proteas and other fynbos…
“I Braai Therefore I am… South African!”
Locally, Heritage Day is also known as Braai Day. Braai is the Afrikaans word for the process – and art, to those like my little brother – of grilling meat and fish over an open flame or hot coals. Even though the word is of Dutch origins and characteristic of the Afrikaans language and culture, it is a social activity enjoyed by many African cultures. A love of braai vleis (grilled meat) is another thing all South Africans have in common.
Traditionally, a braai uses charcoal and/or wood, while a barbecue is fuelled by gas and electricity. But it is about soooo much more than just standing around and cooking meat… Through the years, having a braai has become akin to a patriotic act. Indeed, most of the men I know consider learning to braai meat properly a kind of rite of passage to manhood. Never make the mistake of comparing a braai to a barbecue – especially not in front of a self-proclaimed South African braai master. It may just be the last thing you ever do! (I don’t think my little brother will ever forgive me for that one…)
“If You’re In Any Doubt As To Whether Your Fire Is Big Enough, Then Your Fire Is Not Big Enough.”
– Jan Braai
In my family, there is a tradition to braai every Sunday after going to church. Come wind, rain, hail or the dominee (Afrikaans pastor), my grandparents always had a braai for their Sunday lunch. And with it, always a dessert made from scratch by my ouma (grandma).
But aside from boerewors en pap, vetkoek, braai vleis, and samp, there is also the wide variety of South African desserts and treats…
Walk into any local grocery store, and you’re guaranteed to find melktert (milk tarts), koeksusters (koeksisters), soetkoekies (old-fashioned sweet cookies)… and malva poeding (malva pudding)!!
“Cooking Is All About People. Food Is Maybe The Only Universal Thing That Really Has The Power To Bring Everyone Together. No Matter What Culture, Everywhere Around The World, People Get Together To Eat.”
– Guy Fieri
Malva pudding is a baked dessert with a spongy, caramelized texture made with apricot jam, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. What makes it stand out from other brown puddings is the thick, cream sauce poured over the pudding and allowed to seep through before serving while it’s hot out of the oven. It is then served with warm with vanilla ice-cream and/or homemade custard.
Food historians differ on the origins of this pudding – and its name.
Some believe the “malva” comes from “malvalekker”, the Afrikaans word for “marshmallow”, because of the resemblance between the texture of the pudding and that of a marshmallow. Others believe that the pudding is named for the rose-scented geranium leaves with which the pudding was originally flavoured, what with “malva” also being the Afrikaans word for the native South-African geranium plant. Another theory is that the pudding was named for a woman known as Malva. Others suggest that the sauce was originally made with Malvasia wine, or accompanied with this wine when serving.
Malva pudding is also known by other names: a brown pudding, Jan Ellis pudding or vinegar pudding. There are, of course, many other variants of this dessert, such as the Cape brandy pudding, for example.
“Food Brings People Together On Many Different Levels. It’s Nourishment Of The Soul And Body; It’s Truly Love.”
– Giada De Laurentiis
It’s so popular that most South African restaurants have it on their menu. The malva pudding gained international acclaim after Art Smith (Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef) served it to the pupils of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa for their Christmas dinner back in 2006.
But with or without sugar and gluten, this recipe is one I am very proud of. I’ll totes be passing it on to my own daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters one day. It’s yummy, healthy and traditional! What more could an Afrikaans meisie want?
Low-Carb Traditional South African Malva Pudding
Sugar-Free. Gluten-Free. Wheat-Free. Grain-Free. Diabetic Friendly. Vegetarian. Allergy Friendly. Dairy-Free Option. Paleo Option.
Low to medium carbs.
Paleo, Primal, Keto, Banting, LCHF
- PREP TIME: 20 minutes
- COOK TIME: 20-25 minutes
- REST TIME: 5 minutes
- TOTAL TIME: 45-50 minutes
- 2 tablespoons xylitol
- 4 tablespoons sugar-free or diabetic apricot jam
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup fine desiccated coconut
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon brown vinegar
- 1/2 cup full-cream milk
- 1 cup fresh cream
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 tablespoons xylitol
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (or 375 degrees Fahrenheit).
- For the pudding, beat together the jam, eggs and xylitol in Bowl 1.
- Sift together the dry ingredients in Bowl 2 and mix through.
- Move to the ingredients in Bowl 3: melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat, then add the milk and vinegar, and stir through until well combined.
- Remove the ingredients of Bowl 3 from the heat and add to the dry ingredients in Bowl 2.
- Next, add the egg mixture from Bowl 1 to the batter in Bowl 2. Mix well using an electric whisk/mixer.
- Pour the batter into an ovenproof dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned. The pudding should be firm but spongy. Be careful not to burn.
- To make the sauce, melt the ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium to high heat. Let it simmer for 3 minutes, constantly stirring to prevent it from boiling over.
- Pour the sauce over the pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Give it 5 minutes for the sauce to sink through the pudding before serving.
Although malva pudding is traditionally served warm, this version tastes almost just as good cold. Keep the leftovers – if there are indeed any! – for breakfast or tea time the next day. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Serve this healthier alternative with homemade low-carb custard, and low-carb vanilla ice-cream, freshly whipped cream or coconut cream.
You can substitute the xylitol with erythritol or granulated stevia.
Make it Paleo-friendly and dairy-free by substituting the full-cream milk with coconut or almond milk and the fresh cream with coconut cream. Just be aware that the change in ingredients will affect the taste, and make the pudding that much richer – and maybe even yummier! Swap out the butter for coconut oil or ghee.
If using other dairy substitutes, just be aware of the added carbs to the overall carb content of the malva pudding.
What we call bicarbonate of soda in South Africa and the UK is known as “baking soda” in the USA.
“We Can Change The World And Make It Better Place. It Is In Your Hands To Make A Difference.”
– Nelson Mandela
To find out more about the braai culture of South Africa, visit this article by www.braaiculture.com
Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. I am simply recounting and sharing my own experiences on this website. Nothing I express here should be taken as medical advice and you should consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. I provide nutritional information for my recipes simply as a courtesy to my readers. I expressly disclaim any and all liability of any kind with respect to any act or omission wholly or in part in reliance on anything contained in this website.