Cuisine of South Africa

Cuisine of South Africa

Cuisine of South Africa has had a variety of sources and stages:

*Cookery practised by indigenous people of South Africa such as the Khoisan and Xhosa- and Sotho-speaking people
*Settler cookery introduced during the colonial period by people of Indian and Afrikaner and British descent and their slaves and servants - this includes the cuisine of the Cape Malay people, which has many characteristics of Malaysia and Java, and recipes from neighbouring colonial cultures such as Portuguese Mozambique.

Indigenous cookery

In the precolonial period, indigenous cuisine was characterized by the use of a very wide range of fruits, nuts, bulbs, leaves and other products gathered from wild plants and by the hunting of wild game. The domestication of cattle in the region about two thousand years ago by Khoisan groups enabled the use of milk products and the availability of fresh meat on demand. However, during the colonial period the seizure of communal land in South Africa restricted and discouraged traditional agriculture and wild harvesting, and reduced the extent of land available to black people.

Decline of indigenous cookery

Urbanization from the nineteenth century onward, coupled with close control over agricultural production, led black South Africans to rely more and more on comparatively expensive, industrially-processed foodstuffs like wheat flour, white rice, mealie (maize) meal and sugar. Often these foods were imported or processed by white wholesalers, mills and factories. The consequence was to drastically restrict the range of ingredients and cooking styles used by indigenous cooks.On the other hand, some imported food plants (maize, tomatoes) have expanded the dietary range of indigenous cooks. Of these maize is the most significant - it has been integrated to such an extent into the traditional diet that it is often assumed to be an indigenous plant.

Popular foods in modern South Africa are chicken, limes, garlic, ginger, chili, tomatoes, onions and many spices.

ettler cookery

South Africa was settled from the seventeenth century onwards by colonists from the Netherlands, Germany and France, and later by arrivals from the British Isles. These colonists brought European cookery styles with them.

Cape Dutch

Traditional cookery of South Africa is often referred to as "Cape Dutch". This cuisine is characterized by the use of spices such as nutmeg, allspice and hot peppers. The Cape Dutch cookery style owes at least as much to the cookery of the slaves brought by the Dutch East India Company to the Cape from Bengal, Java and Malaysia as it does to the European styles of cookery imported by settlers, and this is reflected in the use of eastern spices and the names given to many of these dishes.

Indian cookery

Curry dishes are popular in South Africa among people of all ethnic origins; many dishes came to the country with the thousands of Indian labourers brought to South Africa in the nineteenth century.

Restaurants and fast food outlets

South Africa can be said to have a real "eating out" culture. While there are some restaurants that specialize in traditional South African dishes or modern interpretations thereof, restaurants featuring other cuisines such as Moroccan, Chinese, West African, Congolese and Japanese can be found in all of the major cities and many of the larger towns. In addition, there are also a large number of home-grown chain restaurants, such as Spur and Dulce Cafe.

There is also a proliferation of fast food restaurants in South Africa. While there are some international players such as McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken active in the country, they face stiff competition from local chains such as Nando's and Steers.

Many of the restaurant chains originating from South-Africa have also expanded successfully outside the borders of the country.

Typical South African foods and dishes

*Amasi, sour milk.
*Biltong, a salty dried meat (similar to jerky).
*Bobotie, a dish of Malay descent, is like meatloaf with raisins and with baked egg on top, and is often served with yellow rice, sambals, coconut, banana slices, and chutney.
*Boerewors, a sausage that is traditionally "braaied" (barbecued).
*Bunny chow, curry stuffed into a hollowed-out loaf of bread.
*Chutney, a sweet sauce made from fruit that is usually poured on meat, especially a local brand called "Mrs Ball's Chutney".
*Frikkadelle - meatballs.
*"Gesmoorde vis", salted cod with potatoes and tomatoes and sometimes served with apricot jam.
*"Hoenderpastei", chicken pie, traditional Afrikaans fare.
*Isidudu, pumpkin pap.
*Koeksisters come in two forms and are a sweet delicacy. Afrikaans koeksisters are twisted pastries, deep fried and heavily sweetened. Koeksisters found on the Cape Flats are sweet and spicy, shaped like large eggs, and deep-fried.
*Mageu, a drink made from fermented mealie pap
*Malva Pudding, a sweet spongy Apricot pudding of Dutch origin.
*Mashonzha, made from the mopane worm.
*Melktert (milk tart), a milk-based tart or dessert.
*Melkkos (milk food), another milk-based dessert.
*Mealie-bread, a sweet bread baked with sweetcorn.
*Mielie-meal, one of the staple foods, often used in baking but predominantly cooked into pap or phutu.
*Ostrich is an increasingly popular protein source as it has a low cholesterol content; it is either used in a stew or filleted and grilled.
*"Pampoenkoekies" (pumpkin fritters), "patatrolle" (sweet potato rolls) and a further variety of baked goods where flour has been supplemented with or replaced by pumpkin or sweet potato.
*"Potbrood" (pot bread), savoury bread baked over coals in cast-iron pots.
*Potjiekos, a traditional African stew made with meat and vegetables and cooked over coals in cast-iron pots.
*Rusks, a rectangular, hard, dry biscuit eaten after being dunked in tea or coffee; they are either home-baked or shop-bought (with the most popular brand being "Ouma Rusks").
*Samosa or "samoosa", a savoury stuffed Indian pastry that is fried.
*"Smagwinya", fat cakes
*Smoked or "braai'ed" snoek, a regional gamefish.
*Sosaties, grilled marinated meat on a skewer.
*Tomato bredie, a lamb and tomato stew.
*Trotters and Beans, from the Cape, made from boiled pig's or sheep's trotters and onions and beans.
*Umleqwa, a dish made with free-range chicken.
*Umngqusho, a dish made from semolina and black-eyed peas.
*Umphokoqo, an African salad made of maize meal
*Umqombothi, a type of beer made from fermented wheat.
*Umvubo, sour milk mixed with dry pap, commonly eaten by the Xhosa.
*Vetkoek (fat cake), deep-fried dough balls, typically stuffed with meat or served with jam.
*Waterblommetjie bredie (water flower stew), meat stewed with the flower of the Cape Pondweed.


*Coetzee, Renata, 1977. "The South African Culinary Tradition", C. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa.
*Leipoldt, C. Louis, 1976. "Leipoldt’s Cape Cookery", Fleesch and Partners, Cape Town, South Africa.
*Van Wyk, B. and Gericke, N., 2000. "People's plants: A guide to useful plants of Southern Africa", Briza, Pretoria, South Africa.
*Wylie, D., 2001. "Starving on a Full Stomach: Hunger and the Triumph of Cultural Racism in Modern South Africa", University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA., United States of America.
* [ Routledge Encyclopaedia of Africa - Farming]

External links

* [ South African cuisine - International Marketing Council of South Africa web site]
* [ Eating the South African way]

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