South African Cuisine: The Dishes and Cooking Styles You Simply Must Experience

by - 2:50:00 AM

South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, from its spectacular coastlines to its vibrant and diverse cities. Not only is it a popular and alternative tourist destination, but it is also full of history and culture, elements that are always necessary when travelling abroad! When it comes to South African cuisine, you really haven’t experienced it until you've tried some of the home-cooked traditional dishes, and with such energetic and tasty ingredients, there’s no doubt you’ll find something you like! If you’re thinking about visiting South Africa this year, let’s take a look at some of the foods you simply can’t miss out on.

Indigenous Cookery
During South Africa’s pre-colonial period, a wide range of ingredients were used to characterize the cuisine, including nuts, fruits, leaves and bulbs, as well as various meats from the hunting of wild game. Since around 10,000 BC, grain crops and domestic cattle were introduced by central African Bantu speakers, allowing the animals to be used by other tribes across the country. This led to the production of fermented mild, as well as cooked grains and roasted meat, creating the basis of the cuisine millions of people know and love today.

In many ways, the traditional dishes enjoyed by South Africans are pretty much the identical to what their ancestors cooked. There’s a countrywide love for BBQ, meaning drying meats for stews and later use, including chicken, goat and mutton. There’s even a ritual significance related to the eating of meat in South Africa, where animals are bought for special occasions like weddings or birthdays, and slaughtered in the family home.

Cape Dutch
This is one of the most popular styles of cooking in South Africa, and it is characterized as ‘Cape Dutch’ due to the wealth of spices used. From chilli peppers and allspice to nutmeg, this type of cooking was introduced by the slaves of the Dutch East India Company, all the way from Java, Malaysia and Bengal. Just like many European countries that offer traditional cuisine brought over by settlers, Cape Dutch uses eastern spices, and many of the names of the dishes reflect such influence. For example, Bobotie is made up of spiced meat with egg, served with boiled wholegrain.

Indian Cooking
Part of South African traditional cuisine is also Indian, although with less of an influence than Cape Dutch. Lemon juice based curries are some of the most popular dishes in South Africa, and they can be traced back to the hundreds of thousands of slaves and labourers who were brought to the country during the 19th century.

Both styles of cooking tend to share the same meats, however the Indian influence on South African cuisine can also be seen through chutneys, sweets and deserts, from samosas to Bunny Chow. Beer is also a major part of South African cuisine, however it has traditionally been an import beverage rather than a home-brewed product.

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