Today is the start of the holy month of Ramadan in South Africa. Muslims around the world have different cultural norms and practices during this month, and our home is no different.
My earliest memories of Ramadan centre around a staple in the Cape Town Muslim community – the samoosa. It is the one thing you will find in every Muslim home during this month, and for as long as I can remember, my mother has always made her own.
My mom has seven daughters, and as soon as were able to walk, talk and understand instruction, my mom had us in the kitchen helping her with stuff. And every year, about a month or so before Ramadan she would start making her samoosas.
There are many steps to making this little thing… Making the samoosa leaves, making the fillings (my mom always made at least 3 different fillings), and then eventually folding, freezing and packaging the samoosas. My introduction to this custom in our home was helping with the making of the leaves. As I grew older and my fine motor skills started improving, I was promoted to folding (which is a skill that takes years to perfect).
I remember years where my mom was making 2000 samoosas in the month preceding Ramadan 😳 Why so many?? Because she made enough for our household, the homes of all my married siblings and the neighbours too.
Anyone who has made samoosas from scratch will tell you that it is one of the most labour intensive things you can make. Think lifting weights is hard? Try sitting for 3 hours straight folding 400 samoosas at a time, and then tell me how your back feels. I won’t lie, I used to moan about being dragged into helping her with this, especially since most of it went to other people.
But… the older I got, the more I understood that as laborious as this task was for me, for my mom it was a labour of love.