To truly enjoy South African food, you have to be in South Africa. It’s all about history, the surroundings and your company.
Due in part to its history of settlement and colonization, as well as its location on the coast, South-African cuisine has many influences including Dutch, French, Malaysian and indigenous cultures. Here are some traditional South African dishes that reflect the country’s diverse cultures and palates.
Bobotie is a purely South African dish made with minced or shredded meat, fruit and spices. It is topped off with a savoury custard and bay leaves, and baked in an oven until the custard is ready.
Boerewors is a high-quality sausage often spiralled and presented in a circular shape. It is made using a high content of meat and can be made of beef, pork or game meat. It is a must-have at a braai.
From its humble beginnings as a cured meat made purely for preservation, to the spicy snack it is today, biltong is ubiquitously one of the top South African foods to try. It is loved by many a South African but may be an acquired taste for others. If you have tried beef jerky and loved it, it is highly likely that biltong will go down very well.
This tasty tea-time treat is made by frying pleated-dough pieces, while koeksisters become even sweeter after adding a sugary syrup. They have a golden, crunchy crust; a soft, doughnut-like centre and are super sticky. The Cape Malay version, compared to the more common sweet version, is rolled in desiccated coconut and has a slightly spicy flavour.
Malva pudding, of Cape Dutch origin, contains apricot jam, is saucy and has a spongy texture with a caramel taste. Once taken out of the oven, those who bake it add a cream-based sauce over the pudding. This results in a sticky and soft yet cake-like dessert. A favourite among South Africans, it is usually served with hot custard or vanilla ice cream.
Popular in Afrikaner cooking, vetkoek is basically a fried dough bread. The word means “fat cake” and is similar to the Dutch “oliebollen”. It can be accompanied by sweet or savoury toppings like minced curry and chutney.
The name sounds exotic, but for locals this dish is a weekly staple. The chakalaka is a mix of cold veggies – like peppers, carrots, onions, tomatoes and beans – mixed in with some spice.
Similar to the British custard tart or Portuguese pasteis de nata, melktert consists of a pastry case filled with milk, eggs and sugar, which is usually thickened with cornflour. 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.
During your English course with Language Teaching Centre, you can even take some cooking classes as activities.