Two smoortjie recipes to take you back to your childhood

Smoortjie is a staple in most homes, whether it features on the menu as a main or side dish.

It’s a quick and easy meal that usually yields enough to feed the whole family and doesn’t require too many ingredients.

A smoortjie, for those who don’t know, is like a sambal, made with sauteed onions and usually a tomato sauce mixed with secondary ingredients like chicken liver, viennas, penny polonies or even tinned fish.

This is the ultimate budget buster, a smoortjie is a versatile dish that can go a long way. If you want to get creative you can add a smoortjie to any of the family favourites.

I was reminded of this good ‘ole favourite while paging through the cookbook Cape, Curry and Koesisters by local foodies Fatima Sydow and her sister Gadija Sydow Noordien.

While the book is filled with loads of easy-to-make homemade recipes, it was the smoortjies that really got me salivating.  

This was once a meal associated with people on a tight budget, but even though it’s a budget buster it’s also a hunger buster.

It’s the perfect accompaniment to a mash and pie meal or even when you’re frying chicken or ox livers.

It’s the best and most flavourful part of Cape Malay traditional cooking that we shouldn’t be shy to celebrate.

Chicken Liver Smoortjie

A delicious, quick and easy dish packed with flavour and that’s not heavy on the pocket. After a busy day at work, this is one of my go-to recipes to cook for my family… wonderful with warm buttered rolls.

Ingredients

  • 30 ml (2 T) oil

  • 30 ml (2 T) butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ green pepper, thinly sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 x 250 g tubs chicken livers Salt and black pepper to taste 15 ml (1 T) pickle masala

  • 15 ml (1 T) chicken braai masala 15 ml (1 T) sweet chilli sauce

Method

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan on medium to high heat. Add the onion, green pepper, garlic and chillies and fry until golden brown. Add the chicken livers, salt, pepper and all your spices and fry for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 30 ml (2 T) water, give it a stir and allow to simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes to get those spices properly incorporated. Bring the heat up to just below high and allow to fry for 1 minute.
  3. Now, add the sweet chilli sauce and stir the smoortjie until all the ingredients are well combined. Remove from the heat and serve.

Tip: Chicken livers do not take long to cook. Once there’s no more visible pink when you cut into them, they’re done.

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Chicken Liver Smoortjie Picture: Michelle Parkin (Cape, Curry, Koesister)

Warme Worsie Smoortjie

This Cape Town favourite is also known as ‘Penny polonies’ or, as my mom use to say, ‘Oulap- worsies’, which meant it cost a penny or one cent. A very cheap staple that to this day is a go-to quick meal.

Ingredients

  • 45 ml (3 T) oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 fresh chillies, chopped

  • 60 ml (¼ C) tomato paste
  • 30 ml (2 T) sugar
  • 800 g warme worsies (Penny polonies),

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat, then fry the onion until golden brown. Add a little water to the pot and braise for 10 minutes.
  2. Next, add the rest of the  ingredients, except the warme worsies, and braise for another 10 minutes. Add the warme worsies and some more water and cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Serve with bread and butter.

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