Guest post: The uniqueness of South African food

Saffa Trading is an online food shop that specialises in exporting authentic South African Food like Biltong, Boerewors, Groceries, Drinks, and SA Wines. They also stock various other unique South African essentials like SA Pharmaceuticals, weight loss products and even Springbok Memorabilia. All items can be shipped via trusted delivery companies such as DHL, Post Office Airmail and EMS. If you love South African produced food but can’t get it where you stay, this is the site for you!

Saffa Trading will be posting guest posts to “A Hungry African” regularly to get your taste buds going and maybe inspire you to try some South African dishes or order some South African delicacies. The first post is on the uniqueness of South African food, which dishes on the list have you tasted?

South African food is world-renowned amongst foodies, and our top-class restaurants and eateries delight the taste buds of countless tourists every year without fail.  Traditional Saffa food is often referred to as the food of the Rainbow nation, because of its variety of multicultural influences. Our nation’s heritage is a veritable melting pot of a wide range of nationalities and our South African food takes inspiration from all of the colonisers and immigrants, as well as indigenous peoples that have called it home.  These influences range from Indian, English, French, German, Dutch to Portuguese, Jewish, Malaysian and central and North African in origin.

Biltong and Droëwors

biltong_0020_slicedThis jerky type air-dried meat (typically beef) is enjoyed almost everywhere by nearly everybody in South Africa.  You can almost say that South African biltong is synonymous with South Africans themselves – it is that iconic.  It was a life-sustaining pillar of the Dutch-Boers during their historical, northward Great Trek (Groot Trek) into deeper into Africa as they departed from the Cape Colonies in the late 1830’s. Droëwors is literally translated as dried sausage.  It’s made from seasoned meat and is then air-dried in hot and dry conditions.  It is thinner than traditional sausage, in order to facilitate quicker drying.  Both delicacies are seasoned with coriander, and every butcher prides themselves on their secret formula that delivers the perfect balance of salt and spice.


 These days game is mostly reared on managed game farms but it can be hunted lawfully in selected areas.  Local favourites include the succulent ostrich, antelope (the springbok and the eland highly popular if you find a restaurant that serves game) and even crocodile.  Crocodile is seen as a bit of a delicacy with a highly unique taste and texture all of its own, so I you do get a chance to eat it, you should certainly give it a try.  Warthog ribs are also firm favourites – the delicious and stronger flavoured meat offers everything that you’d expect of a good rack of ribs, and it simply has to be tasted to be believed.   If you classify the well-liked caterpillar-like “mashonzha worm” as game, then you can add this widely praised surprise to this selection.   Also called the Mopane worm (referring to the tree that they are typically found in), these can be dried out like biltong, fried for a crunchy snack or even served in a stew along with vegetables and starch.

Game meat can be prepared on the “braai” (grill) or served in stews and pies.  Game pâtés are also very popular, as are cured game meats and biltong.


Marinated, cubed lamb meat (sometimes mutton) is skewered and then barbecued over an open flame, or “braai”.  Cubed meat is traditionally alternated with dried apricots, mixed peppers and red onions for extra flavour.


 It resembles the well-known British shepherd’s pie, however unlike the shepherd’s pie the mincemeat is curried and flavoured with dried fruit like sultanas – and the topping is a frothy savoury egg custard as opposed to mashed potatoes. june_fl_classact_corr1-9This is probably the most well-known of the Cape Malay dishes that have found their way into mainstream South African cuisine.

Mielie (corn)

 The word “mielie” refers to maize (corn) in English. Often served on-the-cob, the mielie is also used extensively in the making of other products like bread and porridge. The mealie is consumed by African men and women as their staple diet in the rural areas of South Africa, and the porridge produced from mielies – called “pap” – is an indispensable part of their daily food intake.  Served with soured milk (‘maas”) for breakfast, or accompanied with meat and vegetables for lunch and dinner.


 A bredie is a heavily spiced stew which includes meat (usually lamb) and some delicious veggies. Tomato bredie is the best-known variation of this delicious specialty, brought to Cape Town by the Cape Malays. As the name implies it is made with ripe fresh tomatoes as and stewing lamb.  Another famous bredie is waterblommetjiebredie – prepared with a type of pondweed which is harvested in the Cape.

Western Cape Rock lobster 

The rock lobster is a not a true lobster as opposed to the American Lobsterseeing that it does not have claws, yet it’s a highly prized delicacy, particularly when grilled within hours of it being caught and served either with lemon butter or a traditional Marie Rose sauce which South Africans refer to as “pienk sous”.


Literally translated as “small pot food” this is a well-known traditional meat-and-vegetable stew which also originated with the Dutch settlers.  It’s slowly prepared in a three-legged cast-iron pot over a smouldering charcoal fire. potjieThe meat and onions form the first layer, followed by the vegetables and lastly the spices and stock.  This is then left to cook slowly until the meat is tender and falling of the bone.  Making a potjie – as South Africans refer to it – is a very sociable occasion, and the slowly cooking stew is the perfect excuse to sit around the fire and enjoy time with family and friends.


 The word melktert literally translates to “milk tart”.  It is probably best described as milk-egg-and-sugar custard which is normally prepared in a round tin or tart shape – either with or without a crust of short-crust party or compacted biscuit crumbs.  A sprinkle of cinnamon on top makes this delicious pastry the perfect tea-time treat or after dinner dessert.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Diakonos says:

    Reblogged this on Deon's Blog and commented:
    Makes me hungry! Wonderful collection of South African foods!

  2. Senzekile says:

    If I were a white South African this is how I would imagine South African food to be. This article would be similar to my lens. But ask other South Africans from the Western Cape to Kwa-zulu and you will get a different picture.

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