South African Cuisine

Dishes of South Africa are a bright potpourri from the culinary traditions of Europeans, Asian peoples, the original inhabitants of South Africa. Mixing cooking recipes from different countries of the world and different times, the cuisine of South Africa received its own unique national flavor.

South African cuisine

Contrary to popular belief, the cuisine of South Africa does not consist only of exotic dishes, unusual for a European. Traditional food is prepared from simple products – meat of domestic animals and birds, fish, seafood and vegetables.

Many dishes in South Africa are prepared from products familiar to Europeans.

In restaurants, you can also try dishes from insects or meat of exotic animals, such as an elephant or a crocodile, but this is rather entertainment for tourists.

This tradition of nutrition was formed due to the large number of Europeans who moved to Africa and passed on their cooking habits to the indigenous population.

The history of the formation of South African cuisine

The cuisine of South Africa was formed through a mixture of recipes of the indigenous population and colonists who appeared in the XVII century. The modern food tradition has been influenced by French, Dutch, English, Portuguese and German settlers.

With the first European inhabitants in the XVII century. there was a winemaking. During the same period, potatoes began to be grown in South Africa.

Since Europeans at first lived separately, the mixing of cultures was slow. The European menu of the colonialists adapted to the local nature. The meat of antelopes, ostrich, crocodile began to be eaten.

In the XVIII-XIX centuries. on the territory of South Africa came the British, bringing with them slaves from other colonies. This is how the Malays and Indians came to Africa. With them, tea, coffee, rice, spices came into use.

In the XIX century. German immigrants brought to Africa beer and the fashion for meat sausages. Since then, these products have entered the diet of South Africans.

The main features of the cuisine of South Africa

The cuisine of South Africa, like a mosaic, is collected from different recipes, different cultures and different centuries. Combined into the daily eating habit of the inhabitants of one country, the methods of cooking changed, some products were replaced by others, something new was brought into traditional recipes, adaptation to local food sources – animals and plants – occurred. Thus, the modern tradition of feeding the inhabitants of South Africa was formed.

Popular cooking methods

South African cuisine is famous for its abundance of meat dishes. Meat likes to bake on coals. Each house has a barbecue facility. This tradition came from German immigrants who fried sausages and steaks on an open fire.

Common dried meat – biltong, which is served with strong drinks as a snack. Immigrants from Europe, forced to harvest and preserve food due to long journeys and a hot climate, introduced marinating and drying of products into the tradition of South African cuisine.

Fish prefer to marinate or fry. A popular dish of crispy fried hake with french fries. Seafood is boiled and stewed.

A variety of spices are used for cooking. This is a tribute to immigrants from Asia. South African housewives manage a whole arsenal of seasonings such as black pepper, chilli pepper, cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger. Spices are added to meat dishes, roasts, fish and salads, for example, jackalaka – a vegetable dish of beans, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes.

In the cuisine of South Africa, a large number of a wide variety of spices are used.

Legumes, rice and corn are boiled or stewed. The traditional African food of the paps is corn porridge. Maize – corn grits – is served with almost every dish.

What products are used for cooking

Vegetables are used for food, which are grown in abundance in South Africa. One of the favorite foods is pumpkin. It grew on these lands even before colonization. In large quantities, locals eat corn, cook porridge from it or cook cobs for garnish.

In South Africa, many vegetables are grown: pumpkin, carrots, cabbage, beans, onions, corn, potatoes. Abundant fruit harvests allow residents to enjoy local desserts of pineapples, mangoes, bananas, papayas, apples.

The main dish is meat. Both traditional varieties are eaten – beef, pork, lamb, and exotic – ostrich, antelope, crocodile, warthog. And chicken meat on the table of Africans is not so rare.

In the cuisine of South Africa, many seafood are used, which are extracted in abundance from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. From the gifts of the sea prepare squid, shrimp, mussels, lobsters, lobsters. The favorite fish in South Africa is hake.

Culinary traditions of South Africa

The culinary habits of the inhabitants of South Africa were formed during the colonization of the country’s lands by Europeans. The choice of products and methods of their preparation are due to the hot climate, indigenous customs and nutritional characteristics of the new inhabitants of Africa: the Dutch, the British, the French.

South African cuisine is characterized by the following traditions:

  1. An abundance of meat dishes. Among the indigenous people and the first settlers, the main type of food production was hunting, later – cattle breeding and agriculture. Therefore, the love of meat, especially fried and baked on a fire, is traditional.
  2. Canning of products. Due to the hot climate and the lack of refrigerators, the population was looking for ways to preserve food. Drying and marinating meat, fish and vegetables has become a common way to prepare perishable foods.
  3. Winemaking. Another tradition that arose in the XVII century, when grape bushes were brought to the land of South Africa. Since then, South African wines have been popular around the world and exported to many countries.
  4. Brewing. Inherited from the inhabitants of Germany, who moved to Africa in the XVIII century, the old recipes are still preserved, and in our time you can taste the beer that was drunk 2 centuries ago.

In South Africa, they make very tasty wine and beer.

National dishes of South Africa

The traditional cuisine of the peoples of South Africa is hearty, delicious, spicy and fatty. Dishes are prepared from the usual European ingredients. Extreme foods made from insects and other unusual foods are not the daily national food.


Amagvinha can be bought on every corner as there are stalls and fast food stalls everywhere. Amagvinya is a hearty and nutritious, cheap snack food, a type of hot sandwich made from a fried bun with meat or other filler. Another name is a branch or twig. A small ball is rolled out of the dough, fried in oil and jam, cheese or minced meat is added inside.

The dough tastes like a doughnut.


Spicy boboti casserole is considered a traditional dish of South Africa. It has Malay roots. On the territory of South Africa lives a large community of Malays, who were brought by the Dutch conquerors to Africa as slaves in the XVII century. Asian recipes were adapted to local products, began to differ from traditional Malay cuisine.

The casserole is made from minced lamb, which is fried with garlic and onions with the addition of crushed almonds, raisins, spices and bay leaves. On top, the mixture is poured with an egg beaten with milk and baked. It turns out a spicy, hearty dish with an unusual sweet-salty taste.

Boboichi and biltong are the national dishes of South African cuisine.


In the tradition of the national cuisine of South Africa, the jackalaka is a salad. In Europe, it is popular as a vegetable hot barbecue sauce. This salad is made from tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, legumes – beans and peas, as well as hot spices. For a fiery taste, black pepper, chili pepper, coriander, curry, garlic and ginger are added to the dish. The ingredients are fried and then stewed in oil and served cold or hot.

This nuclear mixture is used with corn porridge, bread. The salad is served with different types of roasted meat or poultry as a side dish.


Biltong is thinly sliced pieces of dried meat. It is sold in all supermarkets, shops, exported to other countries. It’s popular as chips. It is served as an appetizer with alcoholic beverages and forms the basis of salads.

This dish appeared in Africa thanks to the Dutch, who, having settled in this hot country, had to find a way to store meat. They canned it with vinegar and salt, then dried it outdoors for several days.

Biltong is made from beef, but sometimes it is made from ostrich, antelope meat, elephant.

First, slices of pulp are marinated in a mixture of vinegar, salt, brown sugar, coriander and pepper. After drying in the sun or in special cabinets, ovens.


A sweet pastry called coxisters most likely originated from the Dutch culinary tradition and was introduced by settlers during colonization. Sweet dough is woven with a pigtail in the form of a doll, which suggests the Dutch origin of the delicacy. It tastes like a doughnut. Products are fried in sugar syrup, sometimes rolled in coconut chips.

In Holland, they baked buns-braids in the form of dolls, they were called “muffins-brothers” or “cupcakes-sisters”. The etymology of the name refers to the Dutch language: coxysters – “sisters cakes”.

South African cuisine is famous for its very tasty desserts.


Potiekos is a stew of meat or seafood with vegetables, cooked in a special cast-iron pot on 3 legs. Traditionally, this dish is cooked for a long time, several hours, on a fire so that the meat bakes well and softens. A puff stew with rice, vegetables or bread is served.

Mint pie

The pie is made from mint biscuits and whipped cream without baking. Cookies are laid in layers, between which a mass of mashed chocolate bars and whipped cream is added. The dessert is decorated with caramel. Then it is simply frozen in the refrigerator.