/ 8 August 2022

Top 10 cookbooks written by phenomenal women


The rock stars of the culinary world have tended to be men but, in the last couple of years, women chefs have started making their presence felt. 

Over the past two decades, there has been a notable shift in the world of cookbooks. There’s so much more to them than complicated recipes for trained chefs. A cookbook is now an opportunity for food enthusiasts to share more about themselves and their passion – a recent trend is a combination of short essays and recipes. Globally, more and more foodies are publishing niche cookbooks focused on categories such as home-style cooking and plant-based cooking. 

In celebration of National Women’s Day, here are 10 cookbooks you should have on your shelf:

  1. Let’s Cook by Siba Mtongana: Multi-award-winning chef, restaurateur and author Siba “Sibalicious” Mtongana follows her bestselling Welcome to My Table with another cookbook, this time for kids by kids. She collaborated with her son Lonwabo Mtonga for nutritious, delicious and easy-to-do meals for kids and teenagers. The book retails for about R280. 
  1. Made with Love & Plants by Tammy Fry: Fry is an athlete, public speaker and businesswomen. She is also the founder of Meat Free Mondays in South Africa and Australia. Made With Love & Plants is a lifestyle and wellness guide with over 75 recipes. Not only does Fry give detailed recipes, she provides easy-to-follow guidance on a plant-based lifestyle. 
  1. In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen: Somali chef Hassan and renowned food writer Turshen present 75 recipes and stories gathered from bibis (grandmothers) from eight African nations – South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Eritrea. The bibis welcome you into their kitchens to share flavourful recipes and stories of family, love and tradition in this transporting cookbook-meets-travelogue.
  1. Cooking with Zanele – Find Joy in Cooking by Zanele van Zyl: This is the second volume from the bestselling author and chef. Van Zyl brings her famous cooking classes to your kitchen with an array of recipes for even the pickiest eaters. This volume includes vegetarian and vegan recipes. It retails for about R390. 
  1. Veggielicious by Mokgadi Itsweng: Itsweng’s debut cookbook celebrates the garden and its seasonal bounty with easy, affordable recipes. What makes Veggielicious stand out from similar plant-based food books is Itsweng’s knowledge of African food, taking food that we grew up eating, such as morogo (also known as African spinach), and giving it new life with simple, delicious recipes. 
  1. Hosting with the Lazy Makoti by Mogau Seshoene: This is Seshoene’s second cookbook, a follow-up to the bestseller The Lazy Makoti’s Guide to the Kitchen. In Hosting with The Lazy Makoti, Seshoene shows readers how to host any occasion with stylish and tasty food from soul-warming one-pot dinners to signature seven-colour meals. The book retails for about R250 
  1. 40 Years of Iconic Food by Dorah Sitole: Sitole is an icon in the South African food industry, adored by many chefs and cooks across the country for breaking barriers in the culinary world for black women. Chefs like Mogau Seshoene (the lazy makoti) and Mokgadi Itsweng have praised the late Sitole for her influence and for paving the way for them. 40 Years of Iconic Food is filled with recipes and the wisdom of Sitole’s fascinating culinary journey as a food editor and cook. Each chapter delves into various stages of her life – African, Township, Pan-African and Western – accompanied by recipes. Expect to pay about R400. 
  1. My Sweet Life by Faaiza Omar: This is Omar’s debut cookbook inspired by her love for travel. Omar, who confesses to being a self-taught baker, has gained a following on social media, with many referring to her as “The Stylish Baker” throughout Africa and the Middle East. Available at leading bookstores for about R450. 
  1. Cape, Curry & Koesisters by Fatima Sydow and Gadija Sydow Noordien: Fatima Sydow rose to fame when she started her Facebook page Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow. The page was so popular she decided to self-publish her first book The Journey of Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow. In Cape, Curry & Koesisters, she and her twin sister Gadija take us on a Cape Malay food trip, which is also a journey of life, as the recipes are linked to memories of their childhood on the Cape Flats.
  1. Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson: “Food, for me, is a constant pleasure: I like to think greedily about it, reflect deeply on it, learn from it; it provides comfort, inspiration, meaning and beauty, as well as sustenance and structure. More than just a mantra, cook, eat, repeat is the story of my life,” says Lawson. She uses her charm and experience to intertwine recipes with narrative essays about food with inspiration from her family dinners. 

All 10 books are available at leading retailers online or in store.