5 traditional foods you have to try in South Africa
Looking for something different to chew on? Look no further
South Africa is known to have a diverse community of many people, breathtaking landscapes, rich history, amazing animals and contrasting cultures that expands across all nine of its provinces. Each are unique and different in their own way. But those aren't the only thing the Rainbow Nation is famous for. The food is just as colourful as the country itself, with each dish having its own individual taste and look.
But what are the best choices to pick when exploring the Southern tip of Africa's land, while keeping your tummy full and satisfied? Well, let's look at a few examples.
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Starting off with something spicy, Bunny Chow was first created by the South African Gujarati Indians of Durban around the 1940s. It often features a hollowed-out loaf of bread that is filled with different curries, chicken, beans, mutton or lamb. This dish is best served hot with a side portion of grated carrot, chilli and onion salad.
Also, if you happen to find yourself travelling along the south bank of the Umgeni River in September, be sure to check out the Blue Lagoon, a popular picnic spot, for the Bunny Chow Barometer. It's a yearly competition held to find out which chief from across all the provinces can win the title of top bunny maker.
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If you are on the road, there is nothing better than to have this meaty snack. Biltong, the distant cousin of beef jerky has quite the history, and was even originally used as a survival method. This was because it could be eaten after long distances of time without having to be kept cool when trekking through the high temperatures Africa sported, and it was easier to carry when travelling.
Since in the more modern era, biltong can come in different flavours, the most common being chicken. There is also fish, ostrich and even ones made from the larger game herd animals such as kudu, springbok and wildebeest. So next time you find yourself driving around in the simmering heat and want to avoid making a mess in the car, biltong is the way to go.
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Ah, boerewors! What can be better than to have this over a lekker braai on a hot summer's evening? If you happen to be at a party or any special event – mainly sports or holidays – with friends while exploring South Africa's vast land, you will most likely find this meaty sausage being braaied (aka barbecued).
But that isn't all, this popular local cuisine has become quite the hot topic when it comes to competitions to see who is the best at preparing and making boerewors. Shoprite, South Africa's largest supermarket chain, evens hosts an annual competition. The winner has the privilege of having their product/recipe manufactured and sold in all Shoprite stores nationwide, under the Championship Boerewors brand. Cool, right?
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Happen to have a sweet tooth? Well, look no further because these deliciously cooked sweets – known as koeksisters – are the answer. The sugary humble pastry first started coming to life in around 1652, when two recipes were brought to the Cape by Dutch settlers from the Netherlands. Since then, it grew into what most people in South Africa know and love today.
The sticky and mouth-watering treats first start out as plaited dough strips, before they are fried in oil. Once cooked, they are dipped in either honey or syrup to give them their golden crunchy crust and liquid syrup-like centre making it absolute heaven to eat. Unless you happen to be on a diet, then it's suggested you leave koeksisters alone. Otherwise, bon appétit.
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If koeksisters are too sweet for you, here is another suggestion for a tasty South African dessert: melktert or milk tart in English. Believed to have originated at the Dutch Cape Colony in the 17th century, this mouth-watering dish is thought to come from the Dutch's mattentaart, a cheesecake-like dessert.
From there onwards, it has grown into what you will most likely find in any store while visiting South Africa. The basic crust is made from sweet pastry, while the centre is filled with custard made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs. Cinnamon is traditionally sprinkled over the top of the custard, giving the tart its brown texture. That might not sound like much, but once you bite down, it's a whole different story.