Explore South Africa's Delicious Heritage

Posted 29 Sept 2019

So much of a country's cultural identity is expressed through its cuisine. One of the easiest ways to connect with a country is by exploring its most widely cooked dishes, and South Africa is no different. Like the many other expressions of culture in our country (e.g. language, clothing artistic expression), there are plenty of dishes that make up South African traditional cuisine. From breyani and bobotie to sishebo and samp recipes, there's a lot to choose from if you want to dig into South Africa's culinary history.

There is an endless number of traditional dishes to prepare, so the task of choosing which one to enjoy might be harder than it seems. Here are five authentic South African dishes to give you a taste of our diverse shared heritage:

Traditional Usu

It doesn't get more South African than this umcimbi staple. Many South Africans have fond memories of being served this dish at a traditional ceremony or family gathering. There's always more than enough to go around when tripe is cooked, and what's left can easily be reheated whenever you feel like having a plate of authentic South African cuisine.

Boerie Rolls with Curried Braai Relish

South Africans will find any excuse to braai. Whether it's to celebrate a public holiday, treat your family or breathe a bit of life into a quiet Sunday, selling the idea of a braai to a South African isn't hard work. It's no wonder that most meat-loving South Africans have enjoyed a boerie roll more times than they can count. The boerie roll is to South Africa what the hot dog is to America — an undeniable part of our culinary heritage.

Ox Liver with Tomato and Pap

Of all the beef liver recipes prepared in kitchens across the country, this is probably the most popular. And it's not hard to figure out why. This dish is easy to prepare and has a cooking time of just 45 minutes. It's the ideal weeknight meal for large families. For many South Africans, this meal has the familiar taste of a relaxing night at home after a strenuous night at work, or a dinner table full of loved ones after a relentless school day.

Tasty Chicken Sishebo

Research shows that chicken is South Africa's most consumed animal protein. So it's no wonder that a chicken-based dish would eventually become a national staple. The ideal chicken sishebo should burst with flavour and have a thick, tasty gravy and can be served with rice or uphuthu.

Beef and Vegetable Bunny Chow

Bunny chows are a one of a kind sandwich: a hollow half loaf of bread filled with beef or vegetable curry and aromatic spices. A smaller version of this South African favourite is a kota, which is a quarter loaf of bread filled with chips and meat-based toppings. Bunny chows have been around for about 80 years, having first been made in the 1940s. Created in Durban, the dish has spread across the country and is a regular at local dinner tables.

Food is about more than just nourishment: it's an old marker of cultural identity. If you ever feel the urge to explore this country and its diverse heritage, look no further than your plate.


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