Best South African Cuisine


South Africa is a perfect destination for those who love food! In fact, recent efforts have been made to elevate Capetonian food to an international recognized type of cuisine.

The one single component that appears to unify South Africa as a nation is its passion and love for meat.  It’s also well worth taking note of South Africa’s huge collection of sea-life which includes a variety of lobster (crayfish), fish, oysters and delicious mussels as well as a variety of local fruits and vegetables. From delicious “street” meals to fancy restaurants and traditional South African fast foods like a bunny chow or a scrumptious samosa, here’s the best in South African Cuisine.

Braaivleis South African CuisinePhoto Credit: by Steve Crane via photopin (cc)

South African Cooking styles

South Africa’s day-to-day culinary adheres to the British culinary timetable.  Lunch is consumed around 1pm and supper between 6pm to about 8pm. Both lunch and supper can interchange as much as the food selection goes, often along the lines of fish, meat or chicken and veggies. Many of South African hotels and bed and breakfast establishments offer bacon and eggs and some English sausage to start your day.

Typical African meals often concentrate around stiff and right grain porridge called “pap” or “mielie pap” (for our international readers you would pronounced it: “pup”), made from maize and usually accompanied by some delicious meat. Here are some of the most famous South African foods:

Braais also known as a BBQ

The Braai is an abbreviation of the word Braaivleis, a famous Afrikaans word that is roughly translated as “meat grill” or “grilling the meat”.  The Braai is more than merely the process of “braaing” your meat products over an outside fire, nevertheless, “braaing” meat outside is a social activity perhaps even much more central to the South African identity than BBQ’s are to American’s or Australians.  You are able to braai anything you want, however a typical braai consists of really impressive and sizable pieces of steak, boerewors (a South African specialty sausage) and lamb cutlets. Potatoes, butternut, corn of the cob and squash are covered in lightweight aluminium foil and then positioned on the side of the fire until it has been cooked. It is then eaten with the meat as an accompaniment.

Potjiekos Best South African CuisinePhoto Credit: by Robert Wallace via photopin (cc)

Boerekos and Potjiekos

A variation on the braai is the scrumptious and delectable potjiekos — you would normally pronounced it “poy-key-kos” (a pot meal), in which the food is cooked in a 3-legged iron pot-cauldron, ideally outside on an open fire. This kind of food preparation is normally appreciated by mostly South African Afrikaners.

Cape Cuisine

Styles of food preparation brought to South Africa from Madagascar and Asia have developed and progressed into what we now call Cape Cuisine (often referred to as Cape Malaysian cuisine).  Defined by light to moderate sweet curries with a solid Indonesian affect, Cape Malay cuisine is worth trying out, specifically if you are visiting Cape Town, where this kind of delicious cuisine was developed in the late 17th century. Even though Cape Town food can be really tasty and delicious, there is not that much variety and few dining establishments outside the Western Cape focus on it. In spite of this, the majority of the recipes considered as Cape Malay Cuisine have become part of the traditional South African diet, with several becoming part of the South African cooking vocabulary.

Various other ethnic and regional influences

Even though South Africa does not actually have unique local foods per se, you will certainly discover distinct changes and variations of focus and local specialities in different parts of South Africa. For example, Kwazulu-Natal, specifically around Pietermaritzburg and Durban, is specifically great if you want to try out some traditional South African-Indian cuisine. The South African contribution to this fantastic diverse tradition is the modest and humble bunny-chow, an inexpensive takeaway consisting of a half hollowed out white bread loaf originally loaded up with beans, however nowadays with anything from poultry to sardines.

About the Author:

Umar is a travel blogger and world traveler. He writes on behalf of Saffa Trading.

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Best South African Cuisine
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From delicious "street" meals to fancy restaurants and traditional South African fast foods like a bunny chow, here's the best in South African Cuisine.
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