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South African Food - From Tasting to Savouring

10 mins. read

Food, खाना or Kos (Kaws), whatever you wish to call it, has been a staple in every part of the world. A thing that every being craves. Not just for sustenance, but for the sensory pleasure every bite evokes. A symphony, dancing on the taste buds.

You must have heard someone say, “People who love to eat are always the best people”. Well, we wholeheartedly agree with the statement. We also believe that there is nothing better than ladening our plates with the most scrumptious dishes on our trip to South Africa. And so should too! Because as delicious as South African meals are, the people's hospitality and camaraderie make it all the more delicious.

While you make a plan for all the places to visit in South Africa, we have listed down the most famous food you can have on your tour to South Africa.

Mouth-watering South African Food You Should Try

  • Braai/ Shisa nyama
  • Bobotie
  • Boerewors
  • Chakalaka and pap
  • Potjiekos
  • Vetkoek
  • Malva pudding
  • Koeksisters
  • Biltong and Droewors

When you are in South Africa, you will be amazed by the range of delectable dishes to be found on street stands, in the fanciest restaurants and even in homes. You are bound to be lured in by the aroma of meat grilling in the backyards.

But before we dive into tasting the famous food in South Africa, let us know a little more about the significance meat holds in South African cuisine.

Cultural food in South Africa is a mouthwatering fusion of spices, several traditions, ingredients and cooking techniques. Much of what people eat in South Africa depends on the geographical location you are visiting and the culture and traditions that influenced the area throughout the years. Therefore, food consists of traditional simple fare with root and shoot vegetables, fruits and meat. But, meat is a significant part of the South African dishes and many consider a meal incomplete without a slice of meat cooked slowly over an open fire.

Braai/ Shisa nyama

South Africans celebrate the art of outdoor cooking and they are the biggest fans of BBQs, more than even Australians. And Braai (brī) in itself is considered a cultural event, that brings family and friends together over a palate of grilled meat, delicious side dishes of grilled sweetcorn, potato salad and cans of beer shared around the group. A classic Braai event will typically last for hours and is surrounded by a lot of etiquette and rules - most of which include having a LOT of fun.

Many people describe the occasion as Shisa nyama - a Zulu word that means “burnt meat”. But in South Africa, Shisa nyama is more about the the spirit of celebrating without an occasion, a time to be surrounded by good food, and the best people.

Fun Fact - Braai Day is celebrated on the 24th of September, every year when locals hold mini-braais throughout the day.

Bobotie (buh-boor-tea)

Bobotie is a classic casserole dish in South Africa. Made from ground beef and a thin layer of creamy milk and egg custard topping. This traditional food of South Africa dates back to the 17th century when Dutch traders set up their camp in Cape Town on their way to Indonesia. Throughout the years, several amendments have been made to make the recipe more “South African” - with curry powder, bay leaves and fruit chutney. The dish is often served with Sambal, a sauce made from chilli peppers, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallot, palm sugar and lime juice. Despite that, Bobotie is not particularly spicy as various flavours contrast with each other. Bobotie is also considered a wholesome and comforting meal in the winter, the mix of warm spices, vegetables, eggs, nuts and herbs that feed the soul.

Boerewors (BOO-ruh-VORS)

Boerewors or farmer’s sausage is a traditional food in South Africa made from minced beef, pork or lamb and a combination of spices. The dish is enjoyed throughout the country and is often a staple in Braais. Like most dishes, there is a specific way Boerewors are made in South Africa. This sausage-shaped dish is seasoned with toasted coriander seeds, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and allspice and preserved with salt and malt vinegar that gives it the nutty, toasted flavour. Traditionally, Boerewors are served with pap or mielie pap, a maise porridge that is cooked to a runny consistency.

Chakalaka and pap

These are two other mainstays and popular South African foods. Enjoyed alongside Boerewors, chakalaka and creamy pap are a delicious blend of vegetables, and cornmeal similar to polenta - a dish made from boiled cornmeal in Italy. Chakalaka, much like its unique name is made from stewed vegetables - onions, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans, aromatic spices and curry, and is typically served cold to contrast the freshly grilled meat, a flavour that will leave you craving for more with every mouthful. Chakalaka and pap are quintessential dishes you should try on your trip to South Africa. Depending on your location and available ingredients, they might taste a little different, but tasty nonetheless.

Potjiekos (poy-key-kos)

Cooked over an open flame in a potjie, a cast iron pot, Potjiekos is the cultural food in South Africa. Also called the small pot food, Potjiekos is a stew made from meat, vegetables, rice and Dutch-Malay spices. Initially, the meat is slow-cooked in a broth or wine and topped with vegetables, spices and milk that makes it savoury and tender. A fun fact about Potjiekos is that, unlike traditional stew dishes, it is not stirred until it is ready to be eaten. This enhances its perfection, as with every bite, you will be greeted by tender chunks of meat, tender vegetables and a smoky aroma of spices.


If you are craving something other than meat that is sweet savoury and crisp, then get ready to sink your teeth into this golden fried dough bread, called Vetkoek. Also known as “fat cake” in South Africa, Vetkoek makes for a delicious snack, that with every bite, will deliver a burst of warmth to your taste buds. Vetkoek has a soft pillowy texture inside that contrasts perfectly with its crispy exterior. Vetkoek can be filled with minced meat, tuna, cheese, spicy chutney, or anything that adds layers of flavour.

Malva pudding

Another delicious dessert made from flour, soda, milk, butter, eggs, and the star ingredient, apricot jam. Counted among the traditional sweet foods of South Africa, Malva Pudding is a flavourful and moist baked dessert served with decadent hot cream sauce. With every bite, the dessert practically dissolves on the tongues, leaving a sensation that will transport you to a realm of pure bliss. Malva Pudding has a moist, tender texture with buttery notes of sugar, and vanilla, and each spoonful is a symphony of sweetness folding onto itself. This one dish will keep you coming back for more. Some even claim that Malva Pudding has imprinted a memory that lingered on long after their tour ended.


When we talk about dessert, there is no way we are going to miss Koeksister - sweet plaited doughnuts coated with sweet syrup. These little twists of dough are deep-fried to a crispy golden brown, rolled in cinnamon or coconut and dunked in sweet syrups. Koeksisters is a popular dessert in South Africa and can be found on street food stalls. Each bite is an explosion of flavours - from the crunchy exterior that gives way to the soft centre that melts in the mouth.

Biltong and Droëwors

Biltong and Droëwors are a staple snack in South Africa. Biltong is a type of dried meat that is cured in vinegar and airdried before it is cut into thin strips, perfect for road trips. Though it may look much like meat jerky, Biltong is buttery soft and flavourful. Droëwors are essentially dried sausages, much like Boerewors and are prepared using beef and flavourful spices like coriander, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, salt and brown vinegar. Droëwors also have a unique texture and are packed. Both Biltong and Droëwors are a perfect companion if you are on your way to explore the countryside.

From savouring traditional food to indulging in the rich culture, there is no shortage of foodie experiences South Africa has to offer. Whether you are up for a hearty meal at a local braai or are eyeing to grab sweet dishes off of a street-side stand, South Africa will prove to be a paradise for your eyes and taste buds. Visit the modern metropolis and the countryside, explore South Africa through our South Africa tour packages, and leave with a heart full of love, and overdosed on the culinary delights.

February 25, 2024


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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