Discover the main dishes of South Africa

Discover the main dishes of South Africa

Are you curious about the vibrant and diverse culinary traditions of South Africa? Look no further! In this article, we will take you on a gastronomic journey through the main dishes that define South African cuisine. From hearty stews and barbecued meats to traditional delicacies and unique flavors, South Africa offers a rich and flavorsome dining experience. Join us as we explore the mouthwatering flavors and cultural influences that make South African cuisine truly remarkable.

Traditional South African Dishes


Bobotie is one of the most beloved traditional South African dishes. It is a flavorful and aromatic dish that consists of spiced minced meat, typically lamb or beef, mixed with curry powder, onions, garlic, and various herbs and spices. The meat mixture is then topped with an egg-based custard and baked until golden and set. Bobotie is often served with yellow rice, chutney, and a variety of side dishes such as sambals or salads. This dish offers a delightful fusion of African, Malay, and Dutch influences, making it a must-try for anyone interested in experiencing the unique flavors of South Africa.


Braai, which is the South African term for a barbecue, is an integral part of the country’s culinary culture. It is not just a way of preparing food but also a social gathering that brings people together. South Africans take immense pride in their braai skills and consider it a national pastime. The preparation involves grilling various meats, such as boerewors (a type of sausage), lamb chops, chicken, and steaks, over an open fire. The smoky and charred flavors infused in the meat, along with the accompanying marinades and sauces, create a memorable dining experience. Braais are often accompanied by side dishes like pap (maize porridge), potato salad, and coleslaw, making it a truly festive affair.

Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow is a unique and popular street food originating from the Indian community in South Africa. Despite its name, Bunny Chow does not contain any rabbit meat but refers to a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with delicious curry. The bread loaf is typically made from white bread and is hollowed out to create a bowl-like shape. It is then filled with a fragrant and spicy curry, which can be made with various ingredients such as chicken, lamb, beef, or vegetarian options like lentils or chickpeas. Bunny Chow is often served with pickles or sambals on the side and is best enjoyed by tearing off pieces of the bread bowl and dipping them into the flavorful curry. This scrumptious and filling dish is a must-try for those seeking a taste of South African street food.

These traditional South African dishes represent the diverse culinary heritage of the country and offer a delightful mix of flavors, spices, and cultural influences. Exploring these dishes will not only satisfy your taste buds but also provide you with a deeper understanding of South Africa’s rich food culture.

Cape Malay Cuisine


Bredie is a traditional Cape Malay dish that originates from the Cape Town area of South Africa. This slow-cooked stew is known for its rich flavors and tender meat. The term "bredie" actually refers to any type of South African stew, but the Cape Malay version is particularly famous.

The main ingredient of Bredie is usually lamb or mutton, although beef or chicken can also be used. The meat is cooked slowly with a variety of vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and onions, along with aromatic spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. The slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a hearty and comforting dish.

Bredie is often served with rice or freshly baked bread, which helps to soak up the delicious gravy. It is a popular choice for family dinners or special occasions, as it brings people together to enjoy a truly South African culinary experience.


Boerewors is a traditional South African sausage that is a staple in any South African braai (barbecue). It is a popular and beloved dish that has become synonymous with South African cuisine.

The word "boerewors" translates to "farmer’s sausage" in Afrikaans, and this sausage has a long history in South Africa. It is made from a combination of ground beef, pork, or lamb, mixed with a unique blend of spices such as coriander, cloves, and nutmeg. The mixture is then stuffed into natural casings and twisted into a spiral shape, giving it a distinctive appearance.

Boerewors is known for its juicy and flavorful taste, making it a favorite among meat lovers. It is often cooked on an open flame or grill, where the smoky flavors enhance the already delicious sausage. Boerewors is typically enjoyed with a side of pap (a traditional South African porridge made from maize meal) and a generous dollop of tomato and onion relish.


Koeksisters are a sweet treat that is popular in South Africa, particularly among those with a sweet tooth. These sticky and syrupy pastries are a delightful indulgence and a must-try for anyone visiting the country.

Koeksisters are made from braided dough that is deep-fried until golden and crispy. Once fried, they are immediately immersed in a cold sugar syrup, which gives them their sticky and sweet exterior. The syrup is often flavored with cinnamon or lemon, adding an extra layer of deliciousness to the already mouthwatering koeksisters.

These pastries are best enjoyed when they are still warm and fresh. The contrasting textures of the crispy exterior and the soft, syrup-soaked interior make each bite a heavenly experience. Koeksisters are often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee, and they are a popular choice for breakfast or as a dessert.

In conclusion, Cape Malay cuisine offers a range of delectable dishes, including the hearty Bredie stew, the flavorful Boerewors sausage, and the sweet indulgence of Koeksisters. These dishes showcase the diverse flavors and culinary heritage of South Africa, making them a must-try for any food lover.

South African Desserts

Malva Pudding

Malva pudding is a delectable South African dessert that is loved by locals and visitors alike. This sweet and sticky pudding is made with apricot jam, butter, sugar, eggs, and a touch of vinegar to give it a unique flavor. The pudding is then drenched in a warm cream sauce, making it irresistibly moist and rich. It is often served with vanilla ice cream or custard, adding a creamy element that perfectly complements the sweetness of the pudding.


Melktert, which translates to "milk tart" in English, is a traditional South African dessert that has become a beloved national treat. This creamy and delicate dessert consists of a buttery pastry crust filled with a smooth custard made from milk, eggs, sugar, and flour. The custard is lightly flavored with cinnamon, giving it a warm and comforting taste. Melktert is typically served chilled and dusted with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, providing a delightful contrast of textures and flavors.


Koeksisters are a mouthwatering South African pastry that will satisfy any sweet tooth. These syrup-drenched treats are made by deep-frying dough that is twisted into a braided shape. Once golden and crispy, the koeksisters are dipped into a sticky syrup made from sugar, water, and a hint of lemon juice or ginger. The syrup seeps into the pastry, creating a heavenly combination of crunchy exterior and moist interior. These syrupy delights are best enjoyed fresh and are often served with a cup of tea or coffee.

In conclusion, South Africa is not only known for its flavorful main dishes but also for its indulgent desserts. Whether you try the sweet and sticky Malva Pudding, the creamy Melktert, or the syrup-drenched Koeksisters, you are sure to experience a taste of South Africa’s rich culinary heritage.

In conclusion, South Africa offers a rich and diverse culinary experience with its main dishes. From the hearty and flavorful Bobotie to the mouthwatering Bunny Chow, there is something for everyone to enjoy. These dishes not only showcase the country’s cultural heritage but also reflect its history and influences from various regions. Whether you are a fan of meat or prefer vegetarian options, South Africa has an array of main dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. So, embark on a culinary adventure and discover the vibrant flavors of South Africa’s main dishes.

Share This Post: