With so many cultures in South Africa, choosing a favourite dish is near impossible. Exposed to so many delicate ingredients, hearty meals, tasty snacks and out-of-this-world desserts, there’s something to tickle everyone’s taste buds.
At Capsicum Culinary Studio, we not only aim to inspire students to be creative, but encourage them to embrace all South African cultures too. That’s why, we’ve put together this list of the top 5 traditional South African foods:
Although it’s not a meal, rather an accompaniment, this spicy vegetable relish is widely used throughout South Africa. It rose to popularity amongst early mine workers, turning bland mielie pap and samp into more exciting and flavourful dishes. Chakalaka is even available as a canned product these days, with variations in spiciness to accommodate even the hottest preferences.
At first inspection, this dish might look similar to a cottage or shepherd’s pie. But it’s far from it. It’s a mince based meal, flavoured with a blend of delicate spices, including turmeric, coriander and cinnamon; and topped with egg, cream and bay leaves. A traditional bobotie will also have dried fruit, such as sultanas and raisins mixed in with the mince.
A meal on its own or served as an accompaniment, this dish is widely consumed across the country. The Xhosa variation comprises samp, sugar beans, butter, onions, potatoes, chillies and lemons. Depending on which part of South Africa you’re from, you might also include ingredients such as mielie-meal, semolina and peas.
- Melk Tert
This dessert is developed from an array of cultural influences. Its pasty comes from the Dutch, and the custard-like texture is taken from a traditional Portuguese tart, only with more milk. But, the consistency and the sprinkle of cinnamon on top is a unique South African spin. Light and creamy with a subtle sweetness, this dessert is neither too heavy nor overly rich. Instead, it’s a delicate treat to enjoy at the end of any meal.
- Bunny Chow
Originating from the Indian community in Durban, this rich hearty meal is a firm favourite across cultures. The unique aspect of this dish is that it’s served in half a loaf of bread and eaten with your hands. This concept was derived from workers in sugar cane plantations, as a way to transport their lunch to work. The filling was originally spiced vegetables but has since evolved into a saucy meat based cuisine of mutton, lamb or chicken.
In a country with as varied tastes as South Africa, it’s easy to understand why our aspiring and qualified chefs are so innovative and creative with flavours. If you’d like to learn how to make these dishes and more, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or sign up with Capsicum Culinary Studio today.