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Diversity of South African Cuisine
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Diversity of South African Cuisine

Stewed meat and cooked grains were the staple food of the Settlers. It is unclear when corn was used as a substitute for certain grain products and by whom it was introduced into Africa, but it still forms a major part of the country’s cuisine. Other meats, such as sheep, goats and game were also often used for cooking. Beef was believed to be the most sought after and favored meat.

The daily diet of the general South African families can be traced back to foods eaten by their forefathers. The staple meal eaten here consists mainly of cornmeal, which is commonly known as “pap” (known in the United States as grit). Grit was traditional served with a meaty stew.

Meat is the main component in meals eaten by South Africans. The most popular meal eaten is meat grilled on an open fire, commonly known in other countries as barbecue. The customary barbecue is usually served with other dishes, including “pap” with the tomato and onion relish, salads, variety of breads and various other side-dishes. The traditional method of cooking meat is indigenous to South African food.

Another South African cuisine that is popular throughout the country is known as a type of stew (referred to as “potjiekos” in Afrikaans) and is cooked over an open fire in a cast iron tripod-pot. Meat and various vegetables such as patty-pan, carrots, potatoes, are typically stewed.

Traditional South African cuisine also includes:

  • Sweet “Koeksisters” are a major part of the South African Cuisine. The dough is neatly platted and fried in deep oil, then dipped in a tasty and sugary syrup. “Koeksisters” are available at most shops throughout the country and are quite affordable.
  • “Melktert” is a custard mixture poured into a tart crust and sprinkled with cinnamon and is very popular if you have a sweet tooth.
  • “Biltong” is uncooked beef or game processed with a number of spices and salt and hung in an aerated room to dry.
  • “Vetkoek” is bread dough fried in deep oil and is served with a sweet filling or a savory mince.