European Finesse, African History, and Indian spices come together in South Africa. We give you a lowdown on not-to-miss dishes in the country and where to find their best versions.
This one has got serious Indian roots. It is essentially a Durban dish that was introduced by the ‘baniya’ community after they migrated to South Africa way back in 1860. A big loaf of hollowed bread is stuffed with veggies—more popularly, lamb curry—and served hot with pickles and chutney. As one would expect from an Indian dish— the spices hit the roof of the mouth.
A sandwich made of two slices of soft white bread with crusts removed.The locals take in a filling of bacon strips, avocado, haloumi cheese,and mozzarella. A light snack for midnight hunger pangs, or a quick grab in-between meals.
Mielie Pap and Boerewors
Loved by people of all ages, Mielie Pap and Boerewors with onion and tomato sauce is a traditional South African meal. The spicy and flavoursome Boerewors (long, spiral beef or pork sausage seasoned with black pepper, nutmeg, coriander seeds, and cloves) are grilled on an open flame, especially braai, the South African version of a barbeque. Served on the side with these sausages is an equally delicious maize porridge or Mielie Pap.
In basic principle, Bobotie is similar to a meatloaf—minced meat mixed with egg, milk, crumbs, raisins, and spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, and curry paste, that is then baked in an oven. Slow cooking lends it a creamy texture and the combination of spices leads to the creation of many versions of this dish. Although traditionally, it is cooked with beef, the delicious vegetarian option has lentils.
This one is as English as it can get. But as with all traditional dishes, there are many variations you’ll find across South Africa. However, the use of spices like nutmeg and cloves is a given. And sago is used to thicken the sauce while cooking minced chicken, and to ensure that the pie remains juicy but doesn’t get watery.
South African fish cakes are made with fleshy fish such as snoek,butterfish, or cod. After the skin and bones have been removed, one can add mashed potatoes, breadcrumbs, eggs, and spices like coriander, and cumin. The mixture is then rolled into balls and fried until crisp and golden brown, and served with turmeric rice.
Milk tart or melktert is a custard pie with a sweet pastry crust. It is a popular sweet served at teatime. As the name suggests, it has a strong milky flavour that is balanced by dusting the tart with cinnamon powder.
This is a ubiquitous South African dessert that has a Dutch origin.The cake-like pudding contains apricot jam, has a spongy, caramelised texture and is usually served hot with custard or vanilla ice cream.
Biltong is meat that is typically cured with rock salt, coarse ground pepper, coarse coriander seeds and vinegar, and hung up on a line in a cool place. While beef is the most popular meat used to make biltong, other game meats as well as ostrich are also commonly available. You can get sliced biltong or the long sausage-like sticks that you can slice on your own.