The food from South Africa is as diverse as the people that live there, influenced by many countries and cultures over the centuries. They have been able to combine all the great ingredients introduced to the country and making it their one, UNIQUE. Nothing tastes as great as South African food! Maybe I am just bias, but why not try it and judge for yourself.
One big influence on the choice of food must be the two bordering oceans, the Atlantic and Indian. Seafood plays a very important role in any diet and can be enjoyed in a great variety of ways. Shell fish, rock lobster, crayfish, salt cod, kingklip and snoek (a pickled fish) are only a few of the great dishes enjoyed very often. They can be served with onions, lemon butter, chili peppers or a great curry. The crayfish are best served braised with onions and chilies and snoek must be barbecued.
If you are looking for variety, you won’t be disappointed!South African cuisine caters for all and no matter what you prefer, you will find something on the menu to suit your taste. The food is both elegant and glows with simplicity. If you are looking for a main course and you are not a seafood lover, don’t worry. Look at the following choices and see what you like the look of.
On the top of the menu is the great Afrikaner “hoenderpastei“, or chicken pie, inspired by the British pastries, but totally different and unique. This is a pastry pot, filled with chicken, sauce, bacon, green pepper and other “secret” ingredients with a pastry top, baked until light brown and crispy in a medium hot oven.
If you are looking for lamb or beef, try the great bobotie from the Boere. This is a great dish, inspired by spices from the Malay slaves with onions, raisins and topped with a custard, comprising of egg and milk. This is usually served with yellow rice, banana, blatjang and coconut. Make sure to include a great vegetable side dish.
Maybe the warm sunshine is too inviting and you are looking to spend your days outside! If you are, you should definitely try a potjiekos, also a Boer dish. Throwing all the ingredients in a cast iron pot, letting the vegetables cook in the meat’s sauces for many, many hours. You can bake a “potbrood” (a lovely bread) at the same time, by placing the dough in another cast iron pot over the coals.
If the potjiekos is not for you, then why not try a braai (barbecue). Put some “boerewors” (a great seasoned sausage made from beef), steak, sosaties (marinated meat on skewers) and braaidroodjies (toasted sandwiches) on the fire outside in your backyard. This is the way to live! Serve with potato salad and away you go.
Frikkadelle, basically small beef patties, are greatly seasoned and taste magnificent, being served with salads and vegetables. If you are looking for very warm and comfort food, try a bredie. The most popular is a tomato or water lily bredie or stew. This is an all in one stew comprising of vegetables and mutton, with the juices from both, flavouring each other.
Bunny chow (curry stuffed in a hollow out loaf of bread) and curries have become very popular because of the Indian influence and you can buy sweet, mild or hot curries, mostly serve with atjar (pickles) and blatjang. Blatjang is chutney, and served with EVERYTHING. All you have to do is cook local fruits with garlic, chilly peppers and onions to mention just a few ingredients.
Local vegetables and fruit play a very important role in the daily diet. Tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, mealies, green beans, sweet potatoes, spinach and pumpkin are the most loved by everyone. Sweet potato and pampoenkoekies (little pumpkin cookies, or fritters) are greatly loved dishes, served with cinnamon sugar or a sweet syrup. After your great main course, you have to enjoy desserts, snacks and drinks, but that will be discussed in the next article.
To be a guest in a South African home is a great experience. They pride themselves on hospitality, making sure you are well fed, making you feel at home at all times and creating an everlasting experience you will never, ever forget.
I was born in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa and grew up in Vereeniging. The first time I left home was in 2002 to go to England on a working holiday. Met my husband halfway around the world, got married in South Africa and now have 2 beautiful children. One boy and one girl... Started writing down recipes I grew up with when I was living in England and love sharing them with others.