South African food

Read about some of the top eats and treats that South Africa has to offer below!

Bobotie (Or bobotjie)

This is one of the oldest and most widely known South African dishes. To make bobotie minced meat is mixed with curry spices, allspice and cloves before being combined with dried fruits – commonly apricots, sultanas and raisins. The meat mixture is then covered with an egg-based topping and baked in the oven. Bread soaked in milk is usually incorporated in the dish to add moisture. Bobotie recipes have existed since at least the 17th century, and the dish is now cooked across Africa.

Pap (Mieliepap)

In South Africa pap is a traditional food and one particularly eaten by the Bantu. It is made out of ground maize and can be similar in texture to porridge/polenta. A variety of dishes feature one of the different forms of pap. Smooth porridge pap is also known as slap pap while pap with a more crumbly texture is known as phutu pap and thick pap is known as stywe pap. It can be made either sweet or savoury but is generally viewed as a breakfast food in the Cape-provinces and by the Afrikaners.

Bunny Chow/Kota

One of South Africa’s most iconic dishes is Bunny Chow/Kota – or curry stuffed within a hollowed out loaf of bread. It originated in the first half of the 20th century in Durban (which had a large Indian community) but is now eaten across South Africa. Commonly Bunny Chow consists of a quarter, half or full loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with mutton or lamb curry. The dish usually comes wrapped in newspaper and is eaten with the fingers.


If you fancy sampling a sweet South African treat then get yourself a koeksister. Although their name derives from the Dutch for ‘cookie’ the Afrikaans version is much more like a doughnut in terms of preparation and texture. Dough is braided to form a plait before being deep fried and dipped in sugar syrup. Cape Malay koe’sisters are less crisp and sticky than their Afrikaans counterparts, being round with a cakelike texture and a cinnamon coating.


This cured meat originated in South Africa and is similar in flavour and texture to American jerky, although biltong is commonly thicker and less sweet. Many kinds of meet are used to make biltong. Beef is usual but so is kudu, springbok and ostrich. The meat is generally flavoured with coriander and marinated in vinegar before drying. Biltong can be bought in the majority of South African grocery stores and butcheries.


Spicy food is very popular in South Africa and chakalaka is one of the nation’s fieriest offerings.  Although the exact recipe for this traditional vegetable relish varies according to region it always packs a kick. It’s often served with curries or stews, generally accompanied by cooling amasi (thick sour milk).


The literal translation of potjiekos is ‘small pot food’ and the term is usually used to refer to a stew prepared outdoors and cooked in a three-legged cast iron pot (the potjie) over wood or charcoal. To make potjiekos Dutch-Malay spiced are mixed with meats and vegetables and slow cooked, sometimes with dried fruits or starches like rice and pasta. Alcohol like beer or sherry can also be added for flavour.


This popular South African pudding features a sweet pastry case filled with a mixture of milk, flour sugar and eggs. Its name literally translates from the Afrikaans as ‘milk tart’ and it contains a far higher amount of milk than its European custard tart equivalents. The milk mixture in melkterts is either left to cool and thicken before being added to a precooked pastry case or is baked in the case until firm.