Must-try South African food.

Must-try South African food.

South Africa is a vibrant country with an eclectic mix of cultures. Originating as a trading post for ships sailing from Europe to the East, it’s cuisine has influences from all over the world. Here are 5 foods not to be missed when visiting South Africa.

  • Koeksisters

Koeksisters are made by pleating a piece of dough and then deep-frying it. The treat is then soaked in a thick, sweet, sugary syrup. The inside is a bit soft and chewy while the outside is baked golden brown and crunchy while, if done right, the syrup threatens to run down your chin as you bite in!

  • Bunny chow

A bunny chow is basically half a loaf of bread (sometimes a quarter loaf for the not-so-hungry) filled with curry. It originated among the Indian population in Durban and is a popular dish throughout the country. The curry is made using traditional recipes with mutton, lamb, chicken, bean and even chips with a curry gravy being popular choices of filling – although the original bunny chow was made with veggies only. They are often shared among friends. The Bunny Chow Barometer is held in Durban every September to find ‘the best bunny’!

  • Boere wors

Boerewors is a sausage originating with the white farmers (the Boere). The sausage contains at least 90% minced beef mixed with a variety of spices. It generally includes coriander, cloves and nutmeg which gives it its unique taste. Other spices and flavours can also be included and boerewors competitions are common. Stands that sell Boerewors rolls can be found on street corners, at festivals and sporting events. And of course, no braai (Barbeque) will be complete with some Boerewors!

  • Biltong

The closest that you could get to describing biltong is to liken it to beef jerkey, although biltong is more savoury. It is cured, dried, spiced meat and a must for any social occasion from watching Rugby to birthday parties and everything in between. Biltong is usually made from beef but chicken and even bacon biltong is not unheard of.

  • Potjie kos

Potjie Kos (directly translating as ‘small pot food) is a traditional meal, slow-cooked over an open fire in a three-legged cast-iron pot. Each Potjie maker has his/her tried and tested recipe that they stick by and many a discussion has been had around a fire about the best way to make a pot.

The dish is usually prepared over the course of a few hours and generally gets ‘built’ in layers. Usually it starts off with browning some onions and garlic with meat after which layers of vegetables get added through-out the cooking time. Vegetables like potatoes, carrots or pumpkin would be added first while mushrooms, patsy pans and cabbage could be added later. Each pot is as unique as the cook and anything from coke to wine, oxtail to chicken and yes- even biltong can be added.

South Africa’s food is as scrumptious as the scenery is breath-taking, as the people are warm and welcoming and entertaining. While this list is by no means an exhaustive list of delicacies to try while traveling to South Africa, let it serve as some inspiration for things to try on your trip!

*A version of this article first appeared at

Juanita Pienaar

Juanita Pienaar is a citizen of the world, recently settled back down in her home country, South Africa, after spending time traveling and living in Asia and Africa. She has a passionate love affair with the ocean and loves to share that passion by teaching scuba diving. She is a yoga teacher and fully believe in finding the balance in life. She has recently discovered the joy and freedom of wearing yoga pants ‘out-and-about’. Juanita loses herself in the written and spoken word.

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