10 South African Food Favorites That You Should Try!

Known as the Rainbow Cuisine, food in South Africa is an eclectic mix of cultures, blending indigenous ingredients and recipes with those of multi-national colonists throughout history. For those planning on visiting or moving to South Africa (or even just relocating to South Africa for the short-term) there are a handful of unique specialties that you should learn about, taste, and enjoy.

1. Pap

Short for mieliepap, this thick ground-maize porridge is a South African staple, served sweetened at breakfast or with stews or meats as an entree.

2. Amasi

Similar in flavor to a plain yoghurt or mild cottage cheese, this fermented milk product is sold commercially, but is still homemade by many families and is used as a side or sauce.

3. Biltong

Using wild game, ostrich, or beef, biltong is made by seasoning, drying, and slicing to create a product similar to jerky. Most often, it is flavored with coriander, salt, sugar or vinegar.

4. Chakalaka

Similar to a chutney or vegetable relish, this spicy dish is served with stews, curries, over pap or with amasi to dilute the spicy flavor.

5. Mageu

Sold commercially, Mageu is a fermented (but non-alcoholic) drink made using mealie pap, wheat flour, flavorings and commonly, Aspartame. In texture, is similar to a yoghurt drink or eggnog.

6. Potjiekos

Translated as “small pot food” this hearty stew is prepared in a three-legged cast iron pot, with staple ingredients such as: starch, pumpkin, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, meat, either potatoes or rice, and is seasoned using Dutch-Malay spices.

7. Samp

Made from corn kernels, samp is stamped, crushed, or chopped to separate the husk. It is then cooked and served alone, with meat, or used to create umngqusho by adding beans, butter, chillies, onions, potatoes and lemons.

8. Snoek

A popular game fish in South Africa, snoek is an oily and distinctly flavored fished that is typically smoked, dried, or canned, but also barbequed – or, as they say locally, “braai’ed”

9. Sosatie

Probably the gentlest introduction for foreigners, sosatie loosely translates to skewered meat. Popular in Cape Cod, this dish is made from cube meat (usually lamb) and is cooked with red onions, dried apricots or peppers.

10. Umqombothi

A lightly colored but thick, gritty beer, umqombothi is brewed using maize and sorghum malt, yeast, and water which makes it high in Vitamin B, low in alcohol content (3% or less) and more affordable than commercial lager.