HOME COOKING: Columnist Munier Grootbek and mother Nailah

Almal dink hulle ma se kos is die beste and our Munier Grootbek is no different.

On the menu this week we have Munier se ma se akni.

The Cooksisters were invited to Mama Grootbek’s home to sample her akni.

Nailah Halim, 71, prepared a lekker pot for Sunday lunch.

As we entered her Walmer Estate home, we were greeted by friendly smiles and the smell of her mouthwatering kos.

Having tasted her akni before, I knew I was in for a treat.

Still one of the best aknis I’ve had!

Lekker warm en spicy, but not hot.

Definitely worth the two hours it took to prepare.

Add some of her delicious homemade dey (yoghurt salad) en jou Sunday plate is complete.

It’s no surprise why Munier prefers sy ma se akni above all.

“A lot of akni you find in the cheap restaurants is just yellow rice and chicken or lamb,” he says.

“It’s the richness of the ingredients and all the spices that makes it.

“I always come here for a good professional akni.”

I was always under the impression that the rice has to be sticky.

Nou hoor ek daai is nie eers regte akni nie.

Mrs Halim, a former caterer, says this happens when the food is overcooked.

“That is called kokni akni (akni that sticks), it is very stodgy and I don’t really like that kind of akni,” she explains.

“That’s a pot akni, that’s why I don’t make that kind of akni.

“But lots of people like it, especially the people who sell akni.

“It’s a matter of leaving it on the stove or adding more liquid to make it stodgier.

“Making akni on the fire can also make it stodgy because it stays on the fire long.”

Mrs Halim, whose akni recipe was passed down from her mother-in-law, says she prefers making hers in the oven.

The cooking time is longer but as they say, good food takes time.

“You can steam akni on the stove but I prefer making it in the oven,” she says.

“If you make it on the stove, you must be careful not to cook the meat or rice too soft.

“If the rice doesn’t look right, then the dish doesn’t look right, so I prefer making it in the oven.

“To cook it on the stove it takes 45 minutes and in the oven it takes about two hours,” she says.

“I cook the chicken and potatoes on the stove.

“When that is done, I add my rice which I cooked half way.

“The rest of the time it cooks in the oven.”

There is also a big difference between akni and biryani, and it has very little to do with removing the lentils.

“The difference between biryani and akni is that you don’t use saffron in akni,” Mrs Halim says.

“Saffron is the main ingredient in biryani.

“If I don’t have saffron then I don’t make biryani.

“The colour is also different.

“Akni is a lighter brown, beige colour.

“Biryani is more yellow, reddish because of the saffron,” she says.

There is also a big price difference.

A pot of akni can cost under R100, but the saffron needed to make biryani will set you back an extra R50.

How to make Nailah's lekker oven akni


  • 2.5kg chicken pieces, washed
  • 1kg potatoes
  • 3 large onions
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooking oil
  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 2 cups of mixed fresh vegetables
  • 5 big pieces of stick cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon ground jeera and koljana
  • 2 tablespoons Fargo’s pickle masala
  • 3 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 heaped tablespoon garlic and ginger
  • 3 heaped teaspoons garam masala (or you can make your own. Recipe below)
  • 1kg rice (long grain basmati or parboiled rice)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 cups plain yoghurt


  • Braise two onions, one cup of oil and stick cinnamon until golden brown.
  • Add tomatoes, garlic and ginger and braise for a further five minutes.
  • Add all the masala, braise for five minutes.
  • Add chicken pieces, salt and potatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  • Cook rice halfway and drain well.
  • Mix chicken and rice and add mixed veg.
  • Braise the other onion with the other cup of oil and the 125g of butter.
  • Spread over the food.
  • Cover the food with grease-proof paper.
  • Seal the lid with foil.
  • Pre-heat oven on 220 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  • Bring the heat down to 180 degrees for 30 minutes then to 120 degrees for 75 minutes.

How to make garam masala

Grind together:

  • 6 large pieces of stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 tablespoons whole jeera
  • 1 tablespoon whole pepper corns
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom

How to make dey sauce

  • 3 cups yoghurt
  • 1 green chilli
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dhania (coriander)