African Treats for a Special Occasion


Wilderness Blogger


Bostwana’s beloved magwenya, known as vetkoek in South Africa and fetcook in Zimbabwe, translates to “fat cake”—and while there are slight regional differences, all their cooking entails frying lightly sweetened batter in oil.

In Botswana, where the dough tends to be sweeter and moister, they’re enjoyed plain with a cup of tea, or with a simple smear of butter or jam.

You will most often see them sold as street food, in large buckets carried on the sellers’ heads. We have taken them one step further and soaked them in a delicious spiced syrup, and served them with ice cream, a match made in heaven!


  • 2 cups (500 ml) flour
  • 10 g dry yeast (half a sachet)
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) sugar
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) lukewarm water
  • oil for deep-frying
  • Cardamom Syrup
  • 2¼ cups (560 ml) caster sugar
  • 2 ½ cups (725 ml) water
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 3 cinnamon quills

Magwenya, or amagwenya, are small round doughnuts. We have added a twist by soaking them in an aromatic syrup and serving them with our delicious Rwandan Honey Ice Cream.


1. For the rose and cardamom syrup, stir sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and the water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook until a slightly sticky syrup forms (8-10 minutes; test between thumb and index finger – it should form a thread when stretched). Remove from heat, cool to room temperature.
2. Sift the flour, yeast, salt and sugar into a bowl. Add the water and stir until well combined.
3. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is soft and pliable.
4. Cover and keep warm for 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch the air out and knead for a minute. Divide into 15 g balls.
5. Set aside on a tray in a warm place and leave to double in size for 10 minutes.
6. Meanwhile heat a pot of oil over medium heat. Check the temperature from time to time by dropping a small piece of the dough in the oil. It should cook through without browning too quickly.
7. When the oil is ready, add 2-3 dough balls and cook for 3 minutes, flipping them over halfway. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
8. Immerse in the sugar syrup while they are still warm, soak for 1 hour, then serve with Honey Ice Cream, and some syrup drizzled over.

Download the recipe here.

Rwandan honey is dark and delicious. The bees at Bisate get their nectar from the forest in Volcanoes National Park, in the foothills of the volcanoes where the soil is very fertile.


  • 2 ½ cups (625 ml) cream
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract



1. Combine cream and honey in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until mixture simmers. Remove from heat.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl for 5-6 minutes or until thick and creamy. Gradually beat in the warm cream mixture until combined.
3. Strain mixture into a clean saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 10-15 minutes or until mixture coats the back of a spoon.
4. If you have an ice cream machine, place in the machine and churn for 30 minutes. Serve.
5. If you do not have an ice cream machine pour into a shallow rectangular dish, cover and freeze for 3 hours or until just firm. Then transfer to a bowl and using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Refreeze.

Download the recipe here.

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