South African Cuisine

South African Cuisine

We want to make sure that you don’t miss out on tasting our traditional South African cuisine when you visit our country!  As such we are going to take you on a visual journey through some of our favourite South African local treats.    We hope you have a “lekker” (delicious/yummy/fabulous) time nibbling your way through our country.


Our favourite way of eating on the weekends is to make a fire out of either wood or coal and then to cook up a meat storm on the fire.    This is our favourite way of entertaining.   We will have a “bring and braai” – this means the host does the salads, garlic bread and potatoes – and the guests all bring a few packets of meat………. the men cook all the meat and we then sit down to a meat feast!   You either head to someones home or a more modern way to meet up with friends in the township areas is to meet up at a Shisa Nyama.   Either way – all our different people across the country spend the weekend gathering around a fire!

It seems that the Shisa Nyama started its life as a way for Butchery shops in the townships to increase their sales.  Buy your meat and then you can cook it outside for a snack!  Over the years Shisa Nyama’s have become social gathering areas that combine – the  butchery – the shabeeen – music and often a car wash!   An example of a Cape Town Shisa Nyama would be Mzoli’s.    Check out this article explaining Shisa Nyama

Note that a braai in the Cape can often be a fish or lobster braai.   A favourite in the Cape is to cook Snoek (a game fish with lots of bones) on the fire.   The snoek is cut open and basted with lots of apricot jam.   It is then wrapped in foil and cooked on the fire.  A braai is also a great way to cook vegetables.   We wrap potatoes, mielies and butternut in foil and put them in the fire.

Braai Brootjies – Braai bread at Middelvlei Boere Braai – in Afrikaans households  – they serve these often as the first course – they are buttered bread with tomato and cheese – done one the fire – often with lots of butter.   They are seriously delicious with gooey melted cheese.
The Braai at Middelvlei Wine Estate in Stellenbosch
Lamb chops & boerewors ( a wonderful thick sausage that is made by combining beef, pork and spices).   it is done as a long roll of sausage.
Moer Koffie! – Coffee made on the Braai/BBQ

Note that accessing a braai is hard as it is a home cuisine.  A really lovely way to experience it is to book at MIDDELVLEI WINE ESTATE in Stellenbosch for their Boerebraai (farmer BBQ) lunch.   That way you will get to experience it from an Afrikaans families way of doing it! 

Eat Steak in South Africa – we are very passionate about good meat in our country.   This steak was served at lunch at Vadas Smokehouse at Spier in Stellenbosch – they prepare their meat in the smoker – what we would consider a modern way of Braaiing!


Try out some of our local black cuisine at Pitso’s Kitchen in Long Street in Cape Town.   Pictured here steam bread with veg, pap, beef stew and chakalaka
Chef Sandile making his own Chakalaka. This is literally a combo of everything left in the fridge – add some chilli and leave overnight to make a hot relish to eat with pap and meat the next day. Every chakalaka recipe is differ-net. To make this one find the recipe on our website or join us on our foodie tour of Cape Town and come and sample it with Chef Sandile
Mutton Bunny Chow – from our local Indian community in Natal. Find a great one in Cape Town at Vandiars (they do not have a website!  TO add to the intringue they have changed the name of their restaurant to KIND REGARDS and are on Dunkley Square at the side of the city – they have funked up their image and kept the Indian menu!  The address is 16 Dunkley Square)
Bokkoms pictured here – you can find them on our West Coast of the Cape. They are dried fish and have a very strong flavour! I am not sure you are going to head out and look for these! At Spek & Bone in Stellenbosch they do fine shavings of the Bokkoms into the butter to give you just a little taste. Fish was dried or smoked in the Cape prior to people having fridges. It was a way of preserving the fish.
Mussels come for 1.5 hours away on our West Coast. They are serving them with Vetkoek. This is a dough bread that is deep fried – it literally translates to FAT CAKE! The Vetkoek comes from our Cape Malay community.   The above dish is from the Mussel shop at the Mojo market in Seapoint.   You will however find great mussels at many places in Cape Town!
Oysters from our East and West Coast. They are available everywhere – but if you are looking for the freshest head to SeaBreeze Fish & Shell in Bree Street.
South African is home to the largest community of Indian people living in a city outside of India. Durban has been home to our local Indian community for more than 160 years. As such we have our own South African curries. To taste the best ones in Cape Town – book for dinner at THE INDIAN CHAPTER in Blouberg. This is owned by a wonderful South African celebrity called Prim Reddy
Delicious freshly cooked Cape Malay treats – samosas and dhaltjies (also known as chilli bites). Find them all over in the Cape or come and make them at a Cape Malay cooking class or try Wardia’s at her street stand in Rose Street in the Bo-Kaap
Cape Malay doughnuts are insanely good with coffee. They are called Koesisters or often koeksisters. They contain dry spices, are dipped in a thin syrup and then rolled in coconut.   These can be found at the Oranjezicht Farm Market on a Saturday and Sunday,  at the Biscuit Mill on a Saturday morning at the market and from Wardia – pictured below
Track down Wardia in Rose Street in the Bo-Kaap to taste a variety of Cape Malay dishes. Her goods are brilliantly fresh. She gets up at 1am to make all her pastries from scratch and even roasts and makes her own spice mixes
South African Milk Tarts – traditional in both the Afrikaans homes as well as in the Cape Malay community (who are likely to be the community that developed these tarts in the kitchens of the Cape). Milk tart recipes are passed down through the generations in the Cape. Every families recipe is slightly different. This is the most common cake/tart served in a South African home to visitors!
Koeksisters are the sweetest thing you will ever taste. They should come with a warning! They are deep fried and then dropped into a bowl of syrup! These are traditionally from our Afrikaans community and are sold at supermarkets and at raodside farm stores everywhere!
Do not leave without tasting biltong! It is our traditional snack for while watching sport events and for road trips. We love biltong!
Plants are used extensively in our country for medicinal purposes. Stop to chat to the Rastas and you will learn what each plant is used for. Simply put a R20 down as a gift and they will then teach you about all of their plants!
Malva Pudding – a favourite in winter!! This comes from our Cape Malay community as well
Bobotie! Traditional Cape Malay/Afrikaans community.   Find it at Zanne’s Fare in the middle of Cape Town on Loop Street in the middle of Cape Town.
Afrikaans Boerewors done with a tomato sauce. This is our traditional Afrikaans sausage.   Served with sides of a mielie fritter and a sweet potato with cinnamon.   Find it at Zanne’s in Loop Street
Zanne’s Fare lamb chops with pumpkin fritters and putu pap!  Do not miss out on trying our pumpkin fritters – they are insanely good.
An easy spot to find all the foodies in Cape Town – as well as many of our traditional eats is the OZFM – ORANJEZICHT FARM MARKET. This market happens on a Saturday and a Sunday and is located near the V&A Waterfront.   For summer they are now open on a Wednesday night from 5 – 8pm as well.   There are a smaller number of vendors on a Wednesday night – but it is still great fun!
The vibey OZFM market!


Note this blog is a work in progress – I still need to track down a few more pics of local dishes –  dried snoek, snoek pate,  pickled fish…………………………….chicken feet………potjie……..rusks ….amarula… don pedros!

Happy eating!   Wishing you lots of fun trying out the local traditional South African cuisine!

For those on a short visit to the Cape – we would recommend you do two days of touring with us.   Tour 1 – our foodie walking tour of Cape Town City that we call the Cape Town Eats City Walking Tour and Tour 2 – a Cape’s oldest wine regions tour with Middelvlei for a Boere Braai or Spek & Bone/Overture for lunch to continue your journey learning our local flavours.