South African Food – 15 Traditional Dishes to Eat in South Africa

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Want to know more about South African food? Here are 15 traditional dishes to treat yourself as well as more information about the South African cuisine.

South African cuisine is a unique blend of different foods and cooking styles. A delightful mix of local favorites has resulted from a history of colonization and migrations.

You can discover Indian, Malaysian, French and even Mexican varieties here being served as local dishes because the country is an incredible mix of diverse cultures. So, without further ado, here’s a rundown of the 15 best dishes from South Africa that will leave you pleasantly surprised and guaranteed to make you a fan.


A staple nourishment, Biltong traces its roots in Zimbabwe, Namibia and modern-day South Africa. Biltong is a salty dried meat of hamburger or kudu. Some exotic recipes include ostrich and even a rhino!

The word biltong comes from the Dutch language where ‘bil’ signifies the rump and ‘tong’ signifies the tongue. Chicken biltong and venison biltong are some primary examples. Biltong can be enjoyed both as a stew and a soup. The locals love it both ways and we recommend you try both versions.  

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A prevalent customary South African style sausage or frankfurter, Boerewors started in South Africa as well as in Zimbabwe. To qualify as boerewors, the sausage must comprise of at least ninety percent meat and no less.

This outstanding nourishment is thicker than a jumbo-sized hotdog and is known to be extracted from a sort of frankfurter made in region to the south of the Ardor River in France. It could be an interesting experiment to inquire about the origin of the ingredients as the chefs will help you bring around the globe to sell their boerewors.

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Bobotie is a meatloaf with raisins and a prepared egg on top. Finding its origin in the Malay peninsula, bobotie is generally presented with yellow rice, banana cuts and chutney.

The word bobotie originates from the Malay word ‘boemboe’ that implies a blend of different curry flavours. The principal formula of Bobotie was found in the Dutch cookbook more than four hundred years ago in 1609!

Bobotie is a supper time favourite and curry, turmeric and almonds are likewise incorporated into this dish. Bobotie has a sweet taste and locals love to pair it with any popular hot sauce.

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Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow is a simple dish with a diehard fan following. A half portion of bread which is dug out and loaded up with heavenly curry, this delicious dish meal comes from Durban.

It is famously known as rabbit and can be found in the Indian cafés around the major urban centers. For the most part considered as a non-veggie lover dish yet in some cases the curry is made with vegetables and is called as beans rabbit.

Bunny Chow
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This local dish is for individuals with a sweet tooth. Koeksisters is a seared mixture that is contorted or plaited and then dunked in the sugary syrup. The name koeksisters is taken from the Dutch word ‘koek’ which means cake.

This dish and resembles a doughnut albeit an extremely sweet and clingy one. It is made in Cape Malay in an alternative way where they add a cake surface to it and move it in parched coconut.

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Malva Pudding

Another sweet delicacy which has a Dutch root, this sweet elastic apricot pudding joy is generally made by Cape Malay individuals as well. The pudding has apricot jam added to it which is extremely saucy and has a caramel flavoring added to its supple surface.

At the point when this flavourful pudding is expelled from the stove, a cream-based sauce is added from the top to further sweeten it. Believe it or not, when South Africans say sweet, they mean business.

Malva Pudding
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Chakalaka is a spicy South African vegetable relish that can be served alongside a variety of foods ranging from stews or curies to bread and pap. Chakalaka preparation styles can vary across the regions and also family traditions.

Aside from local fresh vegetables, the recipe commonly includes beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic cabbage, curry paste and butternut. It is generally considered as a side dish but the usual generous servings mean that it can be consumed as a standalone meal by itself.

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Melkterts are literally translated as milk tarts and this pie like treat is adored by masses in South Africa. It has a sweet pastry crust and a smooth filling which is made of milk, flour, sugar and eggs, melkterts. 

Many families personalize their desserts providing slight variations for this dessert all over the country. During your time in South Africa, be sure to try several different kinds of melkterts as quality melkterts in South African style are hard to come by anywhere else in the world.

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Potjeikos is a generic term for a customary South African stew usually made outdoors in a three-legged iron pot called the potjie. Meat and vegetables are added to this stew and cooked for extended periods on coals in potjie.

The traditional ingredients include any kind of meat from chicken, lamb, venison or pork combined with vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and pumpkin to name just a few. Potjiekos is prominently prepared during family social events and get-togethers.

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Bokkoms are whole salted mullets which are tied in a tangle and hung up to dry. Popular in the west coast in South Africa, these mullets are kept in the sun to dry and afterward eaten in the wake of stripping of their skin.

They are often smoked for flavour by some enthusiasts. Often called the fish biltong, bokkoms is a very selective delicacy and an acquired taste especially favoured by fish-lovers. It can be presented with pastas or soups and paired with selected condiments on offer.

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Gatsby is a huge foot long sandwich and a very popular street food item in South Africa. The roll is overflowing with delicate fries absorbed vinegar, egg, spiced steak, frankfurter, and peri-peri.

If you are yearning for a South African food experience, this unbelievably ginormous sandwich is available to satisfy your cravings. A word of advice: you may want to share it with some friends. Most establishments will traditionally slice the sandwich into four pieces to make it easy to eat.

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Pap En Sous

Pap en sous is the primary base dish for most food items in this list and many more in South Africa. Pap is considered a staple in South Africa and is made from ground maize.

Pap can come in many forms such as in porridge or balls dunked in sous. Sous is the traditional tomato and onion sauce. The pap en sous combination is so ubiquitous around the country that sometimes its hard for South African to consider their days complete if they fail to eat this simple yet savoury dish.

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A type of mackerel, snoek is effectively found in the oceans around South Africa and is one of the most popular fish consumed in the country. It is somewhat precarious to eat snoek although the taste is surprisingly good.

Snoek is typically served as a battered fish with French fries. If you’re visiting coastal regions, it is virtually guaranteed that you will be served the day’s catch fresh from the ocean. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we recommend you to make the most of it.

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Peppermint Crisp Tart

The peppermint crisp tart is one of the most well-known dishes in South Africa. It is a no-cook pudding layered with bread rolls, caramel treat, whipped cream, and dainty peppermint chocolate bars.

It is one of the must-try food items from South African cuisine. We can assure that you will never find a better peppermint crisp tart anywhere else in the world.

Peppermint Crisp Tart
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Denningvleis is another customary Cape Malay delicacy which is considered as one of the most delicious South African dishes ever. It is with good reason that we saved our favorite pick for the end.

Denningvleis is a lamb stew that is slowly and gradually cooked with a trace of tamarind and several additional flavors resulting in a trademark sweet and sour taste. Historically used for medicinal purposes, this dish is another common sight during the celebrations and festive season. If you could only try a single dish from South Africa, denningvleis is our hands-down recommendation.

More About Food in South Africa

Modern-day South Africa has been ruled by several colonial powers such as the Portuguese in the fifteenth century and after that, around 200 years later, the Dutch arrived. With Malaysian and Indian cooking styles brought as Asian slaves, the cuisine of South Africa took a piece from each of these cultures and also included a touch of French, Belgian, and German cuisine.

This has given rise to a vivid mix from three continents like in no other cuisine around the world. From multiple points of view, the day by day food of South African families can be followed to the indigenous food sources that their ancestors ate. Pap is so popular that its various types are actually a cultural phenomenon.

South African cuisine
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Frequently asked questions about South African food

What is the most widely recognized food in South Africa?

Bobotie is the most well-known dish in South Africa. It is heated with an egg-based fixing and includes minced meat.

What food is Cape Town popular for?

Braais is the most renowned South African take on the barbecue using woodfire. It originated in Cape Town and incorporates spiced hotdog, hamburger steak and pork hacks.

What organic product is indigenous to South Africa?

Wild plum is the indigenous product of South Africa. It has more cancer prevention agents when contrasted with blueberries and cranberries.

What is the national dish of South Africa?

Bobotie is South Africa’s national dish.

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