South Africa Dishes

The Best Food to Try in South Africa

South African cuisine is as vibrant as the country’s past, with native styles interspersed with regional influences of the Dutch, French, Indians, and Indonesians. Authentic South African dishes often include barbecue (BBQ) meat but can be as exotic as curries. This is largely down to the historic slave trade when the French and Dutch colonizers of South Africa brought slaves over from Asia. In turn, they brought their own unique cuisines to the country. In this article, the Skycap News™ team will introduce you to some of the best food to try in South Africa that you’ll definitely want to try when visiting this captivating country.

Food to Try in South Africa

Biltong

South African Dishes
Beautiful presentation of sliced biltong on chopping board with spices


Biltong is the most well-known South African export, famous the world over. This snack consists of dried, cured, and spiced meat. In fact, not dissimilar to American beef jerky. The meat is cured in a mixture of salt, sugar, vinegar, coriander, and pepper. Then hung out to dry slowly. It is famed for its low-fat content, as well as its rich resource of protein. South African biltong is also mainly beef. Although venison is also popular with the locals. One can expect to be served biltong at most any gathering in the country. In the coastal regions of South Africa, biltong has been adapted into bokkoms. This is basically fish biltong, with mullet dried in the sun, then salted. It is a popular ingredient in pasta sauces. Biltong can also be eaten on its own as a snack.

Boerewors

Food to Try in South Africa
Grilled traditional African Kudu Springbok Boerewors

Another meat dish (yes this is a theme), boerewors are traditional South African sausages. All true carnivores must add Boerewors to their list of food to try in South Africa. To qualify, Boerewors must contain at least 90% meat. Usually, beef mixed with either pork or lamb, with plenty of spices added. Subsequently, the sausages are usually rolled into a coil and barbecued. Once prepared, they are often served with chakalaka – see below!

Chakalaka

South African Dishes
Chakalaka salad South African recipe

South Africans need some veggies to go with all that meat, and this is where chakalaka comes in. Basically, Chakalaka is a cold vegetable salad. It is usually made with onions, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, beans, and spices. Consequently, it is a mainstay on the South African dinner table and at barbecues and gatherings around the country.

Cape Malay Curry

South African Dishes
Cape Malay vegetarian curry, originated in Malaysia

Perhaps not a dish you were expecting to find on this list. Cape Malay curry is heavily influenced by the cuisine of Indonesia, India, and Malaysia, from where slaves were brought over to South Africa by European colonizers. Generally made using chicken, this rich curry includes spices such as cinnamon, saffron, chili, and turmeric. Originating in Cape Town, this style of curry remains a popular dish. Accordingly, Cape Malay Curry can be found on many restaurant menus across the Cape.

Potjiekos

Food to Try in South Africa
Traditional South African Chicken Potjiekos

A classic meat and vegetable dish, what sets potjiekos apart is the method of cooking. This dish is usually cooked in a cast-iron pot over an open fire. Especially popular at parties and other sociable events, this dish allows whole groups to gather around the fire as the meal cooks. At the same time, the smoky flavor from the open flame helps to create a delicious natural taste. Potjiekos is one of the most authentic South African dishes you can try.

Bunny Chow

Food to Try in South Africaa
Durban Bunny Chow, or a quarter mutton bunny served with sambals

Another Indian-influenced dish, bunny chow originated in the street food stalls and markets of Durban. Now, this tasty treat is popular across the globe. It consists of hollowed-out loaves of bread being stuffed with a spicy curry – usually chicken or pork. Vegetarian options are also popular which normally make use of lentils and beans. All in all, a great snack to enjoy on the go. Bunny chow is one of the best dishes to try in South Africa.

Malva Pudding

Food to Try in South Africa
Delicious traditional South African Malva Pudding

South Africans are also renowned for having a “sweet-tooth.” Malva pudding is probably the most popular dessert in the country. A Dutch import, malva pudding is a sweet baked sponge, made using apricot jam. Generally, it is served with a hot cream sauce. Malva pudding is a staple favorite as a follow-up to a Sunday lunch. British readers may see similarities with a classic sticky toffee pudding. All in all, they aren’t too different.

Milktart

milktart South African dessert
Traditional South African Milktart dessert pie

Another classic dessert in South Africa, the milktart is a pie-like dish, made using a sweet pastry crust filled with a creamy filling. The filling is made using milk, flour, eggs, and sugar and has been adopted across the country, with virtually every family in South Africa putting its own particular twist on the dish.

Food to Try in South Africa Tasty Conclusion

When arriving in South Africa to explore the Garden Route, unwind on the beaches of Cape Town or head to Kruger National Park in search of lions and rhinos on an African Safari, remember to take some time to visit a good restaurant. You’ll get to sample some of the best South African dishes. Not always renowned for its cuisine, there are plenty of mouth-watering delicacies that you won’t regret sampling.

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