South Africa’s Rainbow Nation status goes way beyond our vast culture and heritage; it also applies to a succulent range of food and beverages that South Africans cannot get enough of and tourists have to try.
Pap, a South African staple, surrounded by chakalaka and corn on the cob. Image courtesy of yosoynuts
South African food is interesting and a bit strange to visitors, but trying some of these dishes should be part of your adventure. In honour of Heritage Month, I have put together this list of classic local dishes, and places where you can find them.
Tripe is a Xhosa and Tswana delicacy made from sheep, goat or cow stomach and intestines. These are washed thoroughly and cooked in salt water until soft and tender.
A few years ago, the charm in cooking tripe was to keep the process as simple as possible, so no spices or vegetables were ever added to the dish. These days, however, it is usually served slightly spiced with pieces of vegetables added to it. Tripe is best enjoyed with steamed bread,pap (maize porridge), or samp and beans.
Where to try it: Marco’s African Place,15 Rose Lane, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. Business hours: Saturday, Sunday, Monday and public holidays, 3pm till late; Thursday and Friday, 12pm till late. Closed on Christmas and Boxing Day
Lightly curried tripe. Image courtesy of Alpha
Pap is a very popular dish in South Africa. Made from ground maize, it is cooked in different ways and accompanied by side dishes such as boerewors (South African farmers’ sausage), stew or tripe.
Where to try it: Max’s Lifestyle, Mbe Road, Umlazi, Durban. Business hours: Monday to Thursday, 7am till 8pm; Friday to Sunday, 7am till 1am
There is just something delicious about meat cooked in a three-legged cast-iron pot. Potjiekosconsists of meat and/or vegetables, slow-cooked in wine and stock until the meat is juicy and tender. Bread is sometimes used to mop up the juices.
Where to try it: Magic Moments, Jan van Riebeeck Ave, Oudtshoorn. Business hours: call + 27 (0)76 501 8685
Delicious potjiekos meal. Image courtesy of NevilleNel
Homemade ginger beer
Homemade ginger beer is a refreshing beverage made of a fusion of hot water, ground ginger, pineapple pieces, sugar, raisins and yeast. The ginger flavour teases your taste buds and satisfies your thirst.
Where to try it: Tam’JaZi Country Farm Stall, Fairlands Farm, Alexandria, Eastern Cape. Business hours: call + 27 (0)46 653 0914
Chakalaka is an all-South African dish made from onions, tomatoes, peppers and a lot of different spices. This dish has become a tradition in most South African homes and a must-have at any braai. Chakalaka can be enjoyed as a side dish with meat, boerewors, pap or bread.
Where to try it: Mzoli’s Place, Shop 3, NY 115, Gugulethu, Cape Town. Business hours: Monday to Sunday, 12pm till late
This unusual Tswana delicacy makes for a filling and undeniably tasty meal. Mopane worms are picked, squeezed, cleaned and cooked in delicious sauces. They are also simply pan-fried until crisp.
Where to try it: Iyavaya restaurant, 42 Hunter Street, Yeoville, Johannesburg. Business hours: call + 27 (0)11 648 3500
Dried mopane worms. Image courtesy of NH53
This is probably the most popular homemade traditional beer among South Africans.Umqombothi takes time and a certain set of skills to brew, made from a mixture of water, maize, yeast and sorghum. Umqombothi makes for a refreshing drink for beer lovers.
Where to try it: Edible Gold Restaurant, 15 Bennett Street, Green Point, Cape Town. Business hours: call + 27 (0)21 421 46453