Top 8 Must-try South African Foods

words Alexa Wang

South Africa’s food is often overlooked. It’s a great shame that it is though because South African food is absolutely incredible. One type of food that’s from South Africa but that most people are unaware is, is biltong. Biltong is sold in almost every supermarket in Europe and North America, usually as a beer snack.

However, there’s a lot more to South African cuisine than just biltong. If you are interested in learning about what the nation has to offer, then you’re in the right place because here are eight of their must-try foods:

South African cuisine

Biltong

Although biltong isn’t South Africa’s only food item, it is certainly the most popular. It is a form of cured meat, very much like beef jerky. The spices and flavorings added to biltong are why it’s so popular and distinct from beef jerky. It is one of the world’s most delicious (and nutritious) snacks. Biltong is loaded with nutrients. One of the best things about biltong is that it’s low in carbs, which makes it a great option for people who are on a carnivore diet or are just interested in reducing their carbohydrate intake, which is great for health.

As with any food product, it’s possible to buy biltong that’s not created to a high standard. If you are going to buy some, then it’s strongly advised that you buy some premium biltong, because the taste will be a lot better, not to mention it’ll be better for you. Try to purchase biltong that has as few non-organic additives as possible. Always research a biltong’s manufacturer before ordering from them online, so you can determine whether or not their products are well-received by their consumers. A company’s reviews should be able to give you an answer to this.

Braai

Braai simply means barbecue. It is South Africa’s answer to a weekend grill. If you have a barbecue coming up with family and friends (or just own a grill and want to try South African cuisine), then braai’s definitely worth whipping up. Putting together an authentic braai shouldn’t be too difficult, since the internet abounds with recipes, and it’s possible to purchase authentic South African seasonings and sauces online. Common meats used in braais are boerewors (sausage), lamb, marinaded chicken, fish, and skewers. Make sure to purchase a proper South African sauce marinade (or make your own) so that your braai’s as tasty as possible.

Vetkoek

Vetkoek is one of South Africa’s most popular foods, and it’s not hard to see why. Vetkoek is incredibly simple to put together because it’s just ground meat and fried doughnuts but it’s really like nothing else that you will ever try. As with most very delicious foods, it started out as a poor person’s food. You can find various regional variants on vetkoek throughout South Africa. If you are going to make it yourself, then conduct a little research online and try to find a recipe that’s authentic and delicious. If you’re in South Africa, then you should definitely try it at a street stall.

Boerewors

Every nation in the world (more or less) has its own type of sausage. Boerewors is South Africa’s answer to the sausage. It is an extremely delicious sausage, with incredible seasoning, rivaling some of the world’s other best sausages, like the Cumberland. If you are a fan of meat and enjoy eating sausages, then boerewors is definitely something that’s worth considering. You are guaranteed to enjoy it. If you are going to eat boerewors, then it’s best cooked on a grill. You can likely pick it up from a South African butcher.

Bobotie

Bobotie is one of South Africa’s most cherished and adored dishes. It is little known outside of South Africa, but in the nation, it is extremely popular. If you are not familiar with it, then it is a combination of curried meats and fruits. You might not know, but bobotie is actually South Africa’s national dish (yes it’s that popular). Naturally, bobotie is going to taste much better if you actually try it in South Africa, but you can still cook it at home or find it in South African restaurants outside of the country.

Tomato Bredie

Tomato bredie is South Africa’s answer to lamb stew. Traditionally the dish was only ever prepared with mutton, but that is not the case today. As with most stews, it is relatively easy to put together. All that you need to do is to check out an online recipe. Make sure to follow the recipe exactly; if you put your own spin on it then it won’t be authentic. A lot of people mix and match items when they are making stews, but a tomato bredie is so good that it deserves to be cooked in its purest form.

South African Foods

Pap

Pap is a hearty porridge dish, made from maize. Unlike porridges found in Europe and the United States which are typically topped with fruits, pap is topped with meat and boiled vegetables. The seasonings used in pap vary from region to region, so make sure to do online research before purchasing the ingredients, so that you can buy the right seasonings. Pap is absolutely delicious and if you have never tried it before, you are sure to love it. You can eat pap for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, although it’s best served as dinner because it is very filling.

Gatsby Sandwich

It would be wrong to create a list of South Africa’s best foods without addressing the Gatsby sandwich. The Gatsby sandwich is traditionally made from sliced meats, like chicken, steak, or polony. It is a sub, so is in theory no different from any other sub, but in practice, is absolutely amazing, and can’t be compared to other sandwiches. The Gatsby sandwich is one of South Africa’s most popular street foods. If you are visiting then it’s definitely worth trying. It is also very easy to put together at home, as long as you have the right seasonings.

South Africa is one of the most underrated countries when it comes to food, which is a shame since South African food is delicious. You can purchase many seasonings and sauces used in South African cooking to give your food a touch of authenticity online, so give it a go.

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