South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with so many things to offer the visitor – wildlife, beautiful scenery, beaches, mountains, world-class wines and yes wonderful food. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world I always look for a South African shop so I can purchase some of my favourite South African foods.
If you are visiting South Africa these are the top foods that I recommend you try when you visit this stunning country! If you like the idea of cooking some of these great dishes check out my recommended cookbooks at the end of the post.
Biltong is dried, cured meat and is a favourite snack of South Africans. It can be made out of a variety of different meats including beef and game. Biltong is produced when vinegar, spices and salt dry and cure the meat. It is low in fat and absolutely delicious!
Biltong can also have different spices and flavourings such as chutney, sweet chilli, garlic or peri peri.
South Africa’s national dish bobotie was Nelson Mandela’s favourite food (and is mine too). This sweet curry is served with rice, chutney coconut and bananas and is delicious.
The spiced mince of the dish is topped with an egg and milk mixture before being baked in the oven. The origins of bobotie lie in the Cape-Malay community who adopted the dish when it arrived in South Africa with the Dutch.
Koeksisters are a traditional Afrikaans pastries made from dough which is fried then infused with honey or syrup. No, not particularly healthy but delicious! Sweet, stick and crunchy I bet you won’t have only one!
Potjiekos (or small pot food) is prepared outside in a round cast iron pot. The pot, or potjie, is placed over a small fire and the meat and vegetables cooked slowly. The dish originates with the Voortrekkers (Dutch speaking settlers who migrated northwards and eastwards in South Africa during the early 1800’s)
Bunny chow consists of a hollowed out loaf of bread or bun filled with curry. It possibly originated in Durban amongst the Indian sugar plantation workers. Indian shop owners used loaves of bread as take-away containers so the workers could carry their meal to the fields.
Although the name suggests the meat used is rabbit the name actually comes from “Bania” who were a caste of Indian merchants who settled in Durban.
Have a braai – not a BBQ.
In South Africa a braai (short for braaivleis) is always cooked over hot coals (not gas!) They can often be busy social events with the men all gathered around the braai with a beer in hand supervising the fire. Deciding when the coals are just right to start cooking is always a matter for debate and god-help the host that starts cooking too soon!
If you are invited to a braai when you are in South Africa I would definitely accept!
So now you are at the braai and one thing you are SURE to see on there will be some boerewors.
Boerewors is a type of sausage which always contains beef and some pork and/or lamb. It consists of pure meat with some added spices.
The name boerewors is derived from the Afrikaans words for farmer – boer and sausage – wors.
Mealie pap is a traditional porridge made from mielie-meal (ground maize) and is usually served with a tomato and onion relish or gravy or with a stew to soak up the gravy. It is the staple meal of most South Africans.
Malva pudding is another sweet treat from South Africa. Once the sponge is baked a buttery sauce is poured over it to make it soft and sticky. The cake is then served hot with custard or cream to produce a moist, sticky, delicious dessert!
Milk tart is probably South Africa’s most iconic dessert. It is a delicious milk-based custard (with a hint of cinnamon) set in a short-crust pastry. There is some debate about whether it should be baked or set in the fridge but either way it is delicious.
SOUTH AFRICAN COOKBOOKS
FURTHER INFORMATION FOR VISITING SOUTH AFRICA
I have a number of posts about South Africa which you may find interesting and which will help with planning your trip. I lived in South Africa for a number of years and it is a country I highly recommend visiting.
- An insider guide to Cape Town
- Essential tips for your South African safari
- What to expect from a safari in Botswana
- Top travel bloggers choose their favourite African destinations in the post from Cape Town to Cairo
PIN FOR LATER! 10 SOUTH AFRICAN FOODS TO TRY WHEN YOU VISIT
YOU MAY ENJOY THESE POSTS TOO!
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Tracy has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)
With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!