Regional foods in South Africa? The cuisine of a country develops and changes because of the influence of the people who inhabit it. African, European and Eastern cooking styles are prevalent in traditional South African cuisine.
Most of these foods are eaten and served all over the country, but the purpose of this survey was to determine whether there are certain dishes that are more popular in particular regions.
A big thank you to everyone who responded! There were some wonderful back-and-forth discussions about food – and many a journey down memory lane!
Biltong and dried sausage is enjoyed by most South Africans, and the type of biltong – beef, venison, ostrich, or even bokkoms – depends on where it is made. Boerewors (farmers’ sausage) is also made from different meats, with subtle differences in the spices used. Meat has always played an important role in the South African diet.
Porridge (pap), generally made from mielie meal (corn meal), is a good example of a universal food that is influenced by local customs. It can be eaten for breakfast with milk/cream and sugar, or as a side dish with meat and sauce. It can be runny in texture, quite thick/stiff (stywepap), or even dry and crumbly (krummelpap).
Although koeksisters (koesisters) may have evolved from Dutch oliebollen and milk tart (melktert) from Portuguese custard tarts, they are considered to be traditional dishes along with many others such as tipsy tart (brandewyntert), buttermilk pudding (karringmelkpoeding), buttermilk rusks (karringmelkbeskuit), boerbeskuit (farmer’s rusks) and bobotie (South Africa’s unofficial national dish) served with yellow rice. Then there are bredies (stews) of all descriptions and braaivleis (barbecue).
Pannekoek (pancakes) – served at church bazaars and school fêtes are popular in rainy weather.
The Cape Malay influence is strong, with dishes such as breyani.
Fresh fish from the sea, particularly snoek (smoked, grilled, barbecued, or sautéed with onion and potato (smoorsnoek)), geelbek (Cape salmon) and kabeljou (Cape cod). Yellowtail and musselcracker are used for pickled fish (kerrievis). Haddock is smoked and used to make kedgeree. Variations of Cape seed loaf, a health bread, are found all over the country.
Hermanus – perlemoen (abalone), alikreukel (giant periwinkle), wit en swart mossels (white and black mussels), kreef (crayfish).
West coast (Weskus) – crayfish, perlemoen (abalone), bokkoms (salted, dried mullet).
Boland – waterblommetjiebredie, kastaaings (chestnuts), korreldruiwekonfyt (grape jam), skaapboud (leg of lamb), bredies, moskonfyt (a thick grape syrup), mosbolletjies (must buns), mebos (dried and sugared apricots), suurvyekonfyt (sour fig jam), bredies.
Karoo – afval/pens en pootjies (tripe and trotters), lammerstertjies (lamb’s tails), souskluitjies (saucy dumplings), boermeelpap (coarse meal porridge), boerbeskuit (coarse meal rusks), slaphakskeentjies (baby onions in sweet-sour sauce), boontjiebredie (bean bredie), haksel (chopped meat), silt (brawn), waatlemoenkonfyt (melon jam), roosterkoek (griddle cake), skilpadjies (sheep liver in caul, which is the thick, fleecy fat layer that encloses the sheep’s stomach), springbok meat/venison.
East London – Xhosa-influence – samp & beans (cracked hominy and cowpea beans)
Mossel Bay, Knysna – oysters.
KwaZulu Natal – Indian influence. Curries, bunnychow, roast buffets – lamb, beef, chicken, pork. Peri-peri chicken, prawns, crayfish, mussels, calamari, chilibites, atchar.
Free State (Vrystaat) – Basotho influence -pap en vleis (porridge and meat), stywe wit pap (thick white porridge).
Kalahari (Boesmanland)– Batswana influence – suurpap met vleis en groente (sour porridge with meat and vegetables), pap en suursous met skaapnek (porridge and sour sauce with sheep neck), trifle, gemmerbier (ginger beer), skuinskoek (diagonal cake).
Gauteng – potjiekos (small pot food)
Limpopo – Venda influence – mopani worms, pap met vleis (porridge and meat), beesvleis (beef), pap en wors met sesheba/tamatiesmoor (sausage and porridge with tomato-onion sauce).