Beautiful landscapes, a nearly unlimited variety of wildlife and a rich cultural history – you’d think that would be enough to make up all the benefits of visiting South Africa but you’d be wrong to leave out its delicious culinary treats. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a short list of some of the dishes you won’t want to leave out. This post is guaranteed to leave you salivating for more.
Must Eat: Biltong & droewors
Dry curing was a conservation method used to preserve meat by the indigenous tribes of South Africa, long before fridges had been invented. Usually made from beef or game, such as springbok, biltong (a thinly sliced, air-dried meat) and droewors (an air-dried sausage) are traditionally eaten as snacks. The meat is cured in a mixture of vinegar, salt, sugar and spices such as coriander and pepper, then hung to dry.
The finished product is prized by health enthusiasts for its high protein and low-fat content. Nowadays, biltong and droewors producers often add flavourings such as chilli or garlic to the meat and use a variety of meats, such as ostrich and wild boar. The point is, if you love your meat, you can’t stay away from these.
Must Eat: Koeksisters
While you’re taking in the gorgeous views of Table Mountain, you’d be doing yourself a favour by this Western Cape speciality. Koeksister is a syrup-covered doughnut, which owes its name to the original Dutch word koekje meaning ‘cookie’. Koeksisters are usually twisted or braided and there are two types – the spicier, dried coconut-covered Cape Malay and the crispier Afrikaner which also has more syrup. Both are crunchy and sticky on the outside, with a moist syrupy inside (please bring us one!).
Must Eat: Bunny chow
South Africa’s take on fast food and it has absolutely nothing to do with rabbits. It’s a quarter or a half a loaf of white bread, hollowed out and filled with a hot and spicy meat or vegetable curry. Bunny chow originated in the city of Durban, with some attributing its origins to when migrant Indian labourers working in sugar cane plantations had to take their food into the fields. You can grab bunny chow as a take-away all over South Africa but the very best can be found in Durban – make sure to eat it with your hands!
Must Eat: Malva pudding
Since we’re on the subject of sweet and sticky deliciousness, this South African comfort food is an absolute must. Malva pudding originated with the Cape’s Dutch settlers and is a spongy cake-type pudding made with sugar, eggs, flour, butter and apricot jam. As soon as it’s out of the oven, a hot sweet and creamy sauce is poured over the top of the pudding. It’s often served up after Sunday lunch in South Africa and can be enjoyed with custard, ice cream, whipped cream, brandy butter or crème anglaise but always with a voracious appetite.
Must Eat: Bobotie
You can say we’ve saved the best for last, as this dish is commonly referred to as South Africa’s flagship culinary treat. The dish originates from Indonesian slaves who were brought to South Africa by the Dutch East India company in the 17th century. Bobotie is made from spiced minced meat and dried fruit with an egg and milk topping baked in the oven until it’s set – not unlike moussaka. It’s best enjoyed with yellow rice, some fruit chutney, sliced banana and a sprinkling of coconut. You’re likely to encounter different takes on this dish depending on where in the country you enjoy it, but your satisfaction is all but certain.
This post is written by Pedro Jacob, you can find him if you click here
Apply Here to volunteer in South Africa