When moving to South Africa getting to know the local food is the best part. As we say “local is lekker”
When planning a permanent relocation to another country, it is always a good idea to acquaint yourself with the local cuisine. South Africa, in particular, has a wide variety of treats (and tricks) that are worth sampling. While a few of these are certainly an acquired taste, you may find yourself irrevocably hooked on the rest.
1. Biltong – A South African favourite
It should come as no surprise that this air-dried, jerky-style snack is at the bottom of the list. Despite strict air travel rules and regulations, thousands of tourists do whatever they can to take vacuum-sealed bags of biltong back home with them. During the Great Trek of the early 1830s, beef biltong was the major sustenance of the Boers on their journey inland. Nowadays, you will find wide varieties of this meaty treat in almost every grocery store in the country. Meat types and flavours vary; the trendiest of which is currently a chilli-oil and spice soaked variant aptly named “Babalas Biltong”.
2. Melktert – the first thing to try when moving to South Africa
A strong contender for the top position on this list, melktert or “milk tart” is a great favourite at every gathering. No bakery in the country is ever without some variation of this beloved tart. Essentially, this is a shortcrust pastry shell filled with a simple milk-and-egg custard and topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
3. Potjiekos – a weekend favourite
While it may look like a stew, and taste fairly stew-like, South Africans will proudly stand behind their potjie and let foreigners know full-well that it is NOT a strew. Slow cooked in a three legged cast iron pot over gently burning coals, potjiekos is the epitome of a one-pot-wonder. Even in the hands of a complete rookie, this dish turns out perfectly almost every time.
4. Vetkoek – a winter warmer great all year-round
Loosely translated as “fat cake”, vetkoek is a great favourite amongst almost all South Africans, both young and old. A simple yeast dough is deep fried and filled with savoury ground beef or slathered in sweet, sticky jam. There has been a recent upswing in the trend of filling vetkoek with a mixture of chicken and mayonnaise; though this particular combination is extremely rich and not for the faint of heart.
5. Pap – a great South African porridge
Considered to be a staple in the everyday South African diet, pap is a polenta-like dish made out of mielie (corn) meal. It can be served in a soft porridgey consistency for breakfast, usually slathered in butter, milk and syrup or sugar; or served up in a drier, crumbly form at a braai (barbecue) and topped with tomato and onion relish.
Stay tuned for our future updates on this list of South African food favourites.
Not seeing your favourite dish here? Comment on this post or message us on Facebook and we’ll mention your suggestions.