With the most variety of multicultural sources and stages, the South African cousine is sometimes called “rainbow cousine”.
For the more daring diner, South Africa offers culinary challenges from crocodile sirloins to fried caterpillars to sheep heads. All three are reputed to be delicious. For the not-quite so brave, there are myriad indigenous delicacies such as biltong (dried, salted meat), bobotie (a much-improved version of Shepherd’s pie) and boerewors (hand-made farm sausages, grilled on an open flame).
A typical meal in a South African family household that is Bantu-speaking is a stiff, fluffy porridge of maize meal (called “pap,” and very similar to American grits) with a flavorful stewed meat gravy. Traditional rural families and many urban ones, often ferment their pap for a few days especially if it is sorghum instead of maize which gives it a tangy flavor. The vegetable is often some sort of pumpkin, varieties of which are indigenous to South Africa, although now many people eat pumpkins that originated in other countries. Rice and beansare also very popular even though they are not indigenous. Another common vegetable dish, which arrived in South Africa with its many irish immigrants, but which has been adopted by South Africans, is shredded cabbage and white potatoes cooked with butter. For many South Africans meat is the center of any meal. The Khoisan ate roasted meat, and they also dried meat for later use. The influence of their diet is reflected in the common Southern African love of barbecue (generally called in South Africa by its Afrikaans name, a “braai”) and biltong (dried preserved meat). As in the past, when men kept cattle as their prized possession in the rural areas, South Africans have a preference for beef. Today, South Africans enjoy not only beef, but mutton, goat, chicken and other meats as a centerpiece of a meal.
Potjiekos, literally translated “small pot food”, is a stew prepared outdoors in a traditional round, cast iron, three-legged pot. Is made with meat and vegetables.
Chakalaka, is made with vegetable relish, usually spicy, that is traditionally served with bread, pap, samp, phutu, stews or curries, it is sometimes served with amasi (thick sour milk). This one may have originated in the townships of Johannesburg. There are many variations on how to make it, often depending on region and family tradition. Many versions include beans. For example, a tin of baked beans, tin of tomatoes, onion, garlic and some curry paste can be used to make the dish.
Bobotie, also spelt bobotjie, this dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. It is thought to have originated from the Indonesian dish bobotok, which consisted of meat with a custard topping that was cooked in a pan of water until the egg mixture set. Colonists from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia probably introduced bobotie to South Africa. The first recipe for bobotie appeared in a Dutch cookbook in 1609. Afterwards, it was taken to South Africa and adopted by the Cape Malay community. It is also made with curry powder leaving it with a slight “tang”. It is often served with Sambal. The dish has been known in the Cape of Good Hope since the 17th century, when it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork. Today it is much more likely to be made with beef or lamb, although pork lends the dish extra moisture. Early recipes incorporated ginger, marjoram and lemon rind; the introduction of curry powder has simplified the recipe somewhat but the basic concept remains the same. Some recipes also call for chopped onions to be added to the mixture. Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruit like raisins or sultanas. It is often garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas
Boerewors, a popular sausage in South Africa, they must contain at least 90 percent meat, always containing beef, as well as lamb or pork or a mixture of lamb and pork. The other 10% is made up of spices and other ingredients. Boerewors is usually braaied (grilled outdoors), but may be grilled in an electric griller. Alternatively it can also be baked in an oven. A local variant of the hotdog is the boerewors, or “boerie”, roll which is a piece of boerewors in a hotdog bun, often served with a tomato, chili and onion relish. Traditional boerewors is usually formed into a continuous spiral. It is often served with pap.
Bunny chow, is a South African fast food dish consisting of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry. It originated in the Durban Indian community. Bunny chow is also called a kota (“quarter”) in many parts of South Africa.