If you're lucky enough to visit South Africa or to be planning a trip to this beautiful region, its food should definitely be on the list of things to experience. Among hiking peaks that overlook Cape Town, experiencing nearby safari adventures, and cage-diving with sharks, trying a city's traditional dishes might pale in comparison. In South Africa, though, its most beloved foods are only the spice on top of what's already a delicious trip.

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Its flavors come through in the culture and tradition that is South Africa, with unforgettable flavors that will leave travelers wanting more. Just when you thought a trip to this incredible country couldn't hold any more surprises, one bite of any of these dishes will have you anxious to try the next.


Every country has its own twist on sausage and while many associate this meat with its origins throughout Eastern Europe, South Africa also has its own. Boerewors is a delicious combination of beef and lamb or pork, to which spices are added to give it a bold and unique flavor. The sausage is coiled and cooked on a barbecue, giving it a trademark smoky, coal-fired flavor. Translated as 'farmer's sausage,' boer means 'farmer' and wors means 'sausage' in the Afrikaans and Dutch languages.

Cape Malay Curry

Cape Malay Curry was influenced by Indian, Malaysian, and Indonesian flavors. The French and the Dutch settled in Cape Town during the 17th century and brought with them slaves from each of these countries, and Cape Malay Curry was a blending of cooking traditions from each. The result was a curry that's rich in flavor, bold in spice, and made with ingredients that are local to Cape Town. Cinnamon, saffron, and chili account for the strongest aromatics used, which also give the curry its trademark color and flavor.


While Biltong is a food that's still served to this day, the traditional method behind its creation goes back to the earliest indigenous South African tribes. The process of preserving meat was necessary with no refrigeration at the time, and biltong was born of the need to preserve beef or game, specifically. At its core, it's an air-dried sausage that's cured with salt, vinegar, sugar, and a blend of coriander and peppercorns. Biltong is known for its lean texture with little fat content, making it extremely high in protein; it's often eaten as a quick snack.

Malva Pudding

Malva pudding might look familiar due to its similarities to the British sticky toffee pudding. While the two desserts are comparable, they are altogether different from one another in several ways. Malva pudding starts out with a Dutch-influenced, dense sponge cake that's baked, and that's where the similarities end. When the pudding is finished, a copious amount of apricot jam is smeared over the top before a thick, hot cream sauce adds the finishing touch. Visitors can find this dessert in many restaurants but it's also a traditional dessert that's made in many people's homes for Sunday dinner, as well.

Braai And Shisa Nyama

Both braai and shisa nyama are both easily found in the townships of Johannesburg. We already know that the translation of braai means 'barbecue', and shisa nyama means 'burn the meat' in Zulu. While this normally wouldn't sound all that appetizing, all it means is to add flavor to the meat that's ready to be barbecued. This tradition spans back many generations, with butchers setting up grills outside of their stores to barbecue the meat which they also sold, according to BBC. The tradition has been continued to this day, with communities coming together to socialize around the braai (barbecue).


This dish has Asian influences and was brought to South Africa by settlers, and it was so beloved that eventually, it became the national dish of the country. This comforting dish is a combination of meat and custard, and the two are united in a delicious way. Spices such as curry powder, dried fruit, and various local herbs are added to ground mince, which is layered in the bottom of a casserole dish. A mixture of egg and milk is poured over the top which results in the golden brown, tender custard top layer.


Egg tarts are a dessert that can be found throughout Europe and Asia, and they're even found in South Africa going by the name of the melktert. As opposed to the smaller tarts of other countries, melktert is baked as one large tart, starting with a traditional pastry crust that's then filled with a mixture of eggs, milk, and sugar. When the dessert has baked and set, it's dusted with a layer of cinnamon.

Next: Cape Town, South Africa: Planning The Perfect Weekend