What to eat and drink in South Africa

From world-famous national parks brimming with incredible wildlife to pristine beaches flanked by rugged peaks, there are many reasons to travel to South Africa. As well as endless adventures, there's a wide range of delicious food to try while you're there.

South African cuisine has been influenced by Indigenous cooking styles and other cuisines including Dutch and Indian. From the iconic braai (barbeque) to tasty snacks like biltong, here’s a guide on what to eat and drink while travelling in South Africa.

1. Braai

There’s nothing that says ‘South African food’ more than braai. Braai means ‘barbeque’ in Afrikaans, but to be considered a braai the food must be grilled over fire, and not gas. They’re usually very meat heavy with sausages, steaks and skewers, though fish is popular along the coast. Getting together with family and friends for a braai is a huge part of South African culture.

2. Wine

South Africa is fast becoming one of the most interesting wine-producing regions in the world. The Stellenbosch wine region in Western Cape is the place to be to sample the country's most delicious drops. Quality has risen steeply in the past decade so be sure to enjoy a glass (or two) of the region’s world-class reds. Surrounded by orchards and mountains, it's also a beautiful place to soak up the scenery.

3. Seafood

Flanked by two oceans – the Indian Ocean and the Southern Atlantic – South Africa boasts some of the best seafood dining experiences you’ll ever have. From an indulgent oyster platter overlooking the ocean in Cape Town to a spicy seafood curry in Durban, the seafood here is fresh, cheap and flavorsome.

4. Biltong

This quintessential South African snack tends to divide people. Some find this preserved, spiced meat snack impossible to refuse, and others simply can’t stand the smell – let alone stomach it. Looks like you’ll need to make up your own mind on this one! Either way, biltong is South Africa's most popular snack and is readily available in markets, supermarkets and shops.

5. Boerewors

Another one for the meat-lovers, this coiled, spicy sausage is a South African delicacy best done on the braai. Flavoured with coriander, cloves and nutmeg, this is a sausage born from South African and Dutch traditions.

6. Bunny chow

Hailing from Durban, this tasty street food is the ultimate comfort food. It’s made by filling a hollowed-out bread loaf with spicy curry. The origins of the dish are linked to the Indian community who worked in Durban in the 1940s. They would make bunny chow so that they could carry their lunch to work. It's not only delicious, but it also saves washing up!

7. Bobotie

Bobotie is South Africa’s national dish. Flavoursome and filling, it’s made with a delicious mixture of curried mince, dried fruits and nuts which is topped with a layer of cream and egg and baked until crispy. It’s usually served with a mound of yellow rice and tangy mango chutney.

8. Potjiekos

Meaning ‘small pot food’, potjiekos is a dish cooked in a cast iron pot for several hours over low heat. This cooking style was influenced by the Dutch (it’s similar to a Dutch oven) and is very popular throughout South Africa. You can cook anything in a potjiekos, but popular recipes include hearty stews and casseroles made with meat and veggies.

9. Vetkoek

If you’ve only ever eaten your doughnuts doused in sugar and filled with jam, get ready to have your tastebuds blown. Served for breakfast, lunch or as a snack, vetkoek (also known as fat cake), is a deep-fried dough ball that is cut open and stuffed with curry, mince, boerewors or whatever filling you fancy. You can also eat them with a dollop of jam if you have a sweet tooth.

10. Malva

For something sweet, look no further than this sticky sponge pudding. It gets its rich, moreish texture from apricot jam which is used in the baking mixture. It’s then taken out of the oven and served hot with lashings of cream sauce and a dollop of ice cream or custard.

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