Sosaties are one of the best examples of the Malay influence in South African cooking.

Because of the Muslim proscription against pig products, sosaties should always contain lamb or mutton. There are no other ingredients apart from sheeptail fat, onions, apricots and bay or lemon leaves.

The word ‘sosatie’ is believed to be a derivation of the Indonesian word “satay”, used to describe a similar dish of skewered meats. It is perhaps a corruption of the Indonesian words, ‘saté’ meaning “spiced sauce” and ‘sésate’ meaning “meat on a skewer”.

Sosaties are made from cubes of lamb or mutton threaded with sheeptail fat on thin wooden or bamboo skewers. They are covered with a curry marinade and left to marinate for two days in a cool place. To cook them to perfection, grill them very slowly over coals.

Originally the Cape Malays marinated the meat in a mixture of shredded fried onions, curry powder, chillies, garlic and a generous quantity of tamarind water. They usually did this early in the afternoon and left the meat in the marinade until the next day.

They would then skewer the cubes of meat with alternate pieces of sheeptail fat, and roast them on an open fire or fry them in a heavy skillet. Just before the sosaties were ready, the cook would boil the marinade in a saucepan until its ingredients were cooked and the liquid reduced, the sosaties would then be served with rice and this sauce.

Nowadays it is quite common to do so called sosaties with alternate cubes of mutton and squares of bacon, all conventionally marinated, however when any other kind of meat, or a mixture of meats, or vegetables, is threaded onto skewers, it is not a sosatie but a kebab.

Category: South African Cuisines

Subcategory: Cape Malay