In South Africa, you’ll find dishes influenced by the indigenous population, along with the Dutch, French, Indians and Malaysians and as such it offers a vibrant cuisine that’s sure to excite the palate.
1. Biltong & droëwors
Dry curing was a method used to preserve meat before fridges were invented. Biltong is made from beef or game, such as springbok and is a thinly sliced, air-dried meat.
Droëwors is an air-dried sausage. Both are traditionally eaten as snacks. The meat is cured in a mixture of vinegar, salt, sugar and spices such as coriander and pepper, then hung to dry.
This is a traditional South African sausage made from beef, mixed with either pork or lamb and a mixture of spices. Boerewors are traditionally cooked on a braai (barbecue). The word boerewors comes from the Afrikaans and Dutch words boer (farmer) and wors (sausage).
3. Cape Malay curry
When the Dutch and French landed and settled in Cape Town, they brought slaves from Indonesia, India and Malaysia. Along with their spices and traditional cooking methods, they created fragrant curries and stews. This is still popular today.
4. Malva pudding
A Dutch import, malva pudding is a sweet and sticky baked sponge pudding made with apricot jam and served smothered in a hot cream sauce. This pudding is served in many restaurants but mainly baked at home for Sunday lunch.
5. Chakalaka & pap
Chakalaka is a vegetable dish made of onions, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans and spices. Pap, meaning ‘porridge’, is made from white corn maize. Chakalaka and pap are often served together, along with braaied (barbecued) meat, breads, salad and stews.
6. Braai/Shisa nyama
For a real taste of South Africa an authentic braai or shisa nyama (‘burn the meat’ in Zulu) is an eating experience not to be missed. Braais originated in the townships of Johannesburg, with butchers who set up barbecues in front of their shops at weekends to grill their meat and sell it on the street. For South Africans, braai is like a tradition over weekends!
7. Bunny chow
This street food of Durban is hollowed out loaves of bread, stuffed with spicy curry. It was originally created by the immigrant Indian community in the Natal area of Durban.
8. Amarula Don Pedro
This cocktail-come-dessert uses South African Amarula, a cream liqueur made from the indigenous marula fruit, blended with ice cream. Find it in every bar or take a bottle of Amarula home from duty-free to make your own!
Bobotie is the national dish of the country, thought to have been brought to South Africa by Asian settlers. Minced meat is simmered with spices, usually curry powder, herbs and dried fruit, then topped with a mixture of egg and milk and baked until set.
Melktert consists of a pastry case filled with milk, eggs and sugar, which is usually thickened with flour. The finished tart is traditionally dusted with cinnamon. A real South African comfort food, it is served as a dessert, and also available in many bakeries.