A list of South African Foods

Some favourite traditional dishes and delicacies

South African foods to try… or not?

Here is a list of foods enjoyed in South Africa. South Africa is a melting pot of so many cultures and traditions. Some of the choices are not for the faint-hearted but dare to try some interesting things from this list of South African foods.


Vetkoek is essentially a ball of dough that is deep-fried like a doughnut. It means fat cake in Afrikaans. It is usually filled either with spiced mincemeat, polony and cheese or for a sweet version it is filled with jam.


This is the hoof of a pig, sheep or cow which is boiled and highly spiced for flavour.


Fermented milk.


This is dried salted and spiced raw meat  It dates back to the early settlers who preserved meat in this way. It is usually made from Beef, or ostrich, kudu or any other red meat.


A dish originating in India. It is made of rice, spices with lentils and lamb or chicken


This dish is of Malay origin. It consists of spiced mincemeat which is placed in a dish and covered with raw egg. It is then baked and usually served with rice.


A Cape Malay sweet milk drink, made with vermicelli, sago, sugar, and flavoured with cardamom, stick cinnamon and rose water

Boekoms / Bokkoms

Bokkoms is a delicacy from the Cape West Coast area. It is salted fish which is wind-dried. It is often to be found being sold along the roadside along the shore.


Boerewors is a traditional spicy sausage. The translation is Farmer’s sausage. Usually made from beef or lamb but often combined with offcuts and highly spiced. I is usually cooked on hot coals at a traditional South African braai.


Sandwiches that are grilled over hot coals. These can contain combinations of anything usually put on sandwiches


A traditional stew of meat and vegetables

Bunny chow

Local takeaway which consists of a hollowed-out half loaf of bread filled with curried meat or vegetables. It is fairly cheap and widely available


This chutney s most commonly made from apricots fresh or dried. It is a great condiment to have with curry or even to spice up a cheese sandwich. However, not all chutney can claim to be blatjang


A relish made from onion, garlic green peppers cauliflower and carrots which is spiced with curry powder and chillies.


This is a traditional Tswana delicacy. It is meat cut up into very small pieces which is then boiled then ground up finely and re-cooked.


A Cape Malay dish, which is probably one of the oldest South African recipes, It is a slow-cooked sweet and sour dish flavoured with tamarind and other spices


Dumplings, are usually steamed over a pot.


A meatball, traditionally made from mincemeat, onions, tomatoes and spices formed into “balls” and shallow fried.


A Cape Town sandwich. This consists of, a long roll with fillings of anything such as polony (bologna)  chicken or steak with hot chips.

Gesmoorde vis

A dish made with salted Snoek or Cod with potatoes and tomato, It is sometimes served with moskonfyt (Grape must jam)

Green Mielies

Before the cobs reach full ripeness they are is referred to as green mealies or “gocha”


A traditional South African tartlet filled with an apricot jam and topped with a dried coconut meringue topping.


Traditional Afrikaans chicken pot pie.


Soft porridge made from ground corn usually called “mealie meal/pap”. A staple food, often used in baking but predominantly cooked into pap or phutu.


Internal animal fat cut into small pieces and fried up till crisp like cracklings.

Koeksisters or Koeksusters

 Dough which has been plaited and fried and steeped in syrup


Afrikaans for jam or preserves.


-Hollowed-out bread filled with atchar, polony, slap chips, cheese, eggs and Russian sausage.


Summer salad made with boiled corn.


– intestines, usually chicken, properly cleaned boiled to cook the fried

Malva Pudding

A sweet spongy apricot pudding with apricot jam and sweet sauce originally of Dutch origin.


Chicken legs, boiled to soften the skin salted then fried.


Mopane worms in a stew with tomato or peanut sauce. They call it Mashonza  It is a delicacy enjoyed by many. The Mopane worm is packed with about 60% protein and has a high calcium content


A traditional Afrikaans dish. Served for supper or lunch but also sometimes as a pudding.The main ingredient obviously is milk, to which you add some flour and butter. Sugar in the case of a desert

 Mielie -bread

– Bread baked with sweetcorn.


Ground corn, a staple food, is often used in baking. Mostly cooked into pap or phutu.

Milk tart/Melktert

A vanilla custard tart with or without a crust. It usually has cinnamon sprinkled on top and served as a teatime treat.


Tripe cleaned and boiled for a few hours then made into a stew with hot pap or a dumpling.

Monkey gland sauce

There are no monkeys nor glands in this relish. The ingredients are onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and wine.

Mopane worms

Gonimbrasia Belina (emperor moth). Its large edible caterpillar, called madora, amacimbi, masontja,(mopane worm) it feeds primarily on mopane tree leaves.


Spinach-like wild plant sometimes seen as a weed. It is boiled and served with pap. Often dried in small lumps for extended shelf life. The traditional Afrikaner/Boer recipe often includes onions and potatoes.


A bun with the dough including aniseed and grape juice. (mos) used as leavening agent. It originated in the Winelands of the Cape.


Wet corn mixed with beans.


Ostrich is becoming popular as an alternative meat source. It has low cholesterol content. It is served in a stew or filleted and cooked like a steak.


(Pumpkin fritters) Mashed pumpkin mixed with egg and flour and shallow fried. The same method is done with potatoes or sweet potatoes.


A sauce which can be mild or hot, made with red chilli peppers”, It is believed from the word for pepper from the native language “Ronga” from Southern Mozambique where Portuguese explorers included it in their cooking. The sauce is made from peri-peri chillies (used as seasoning or marinade). Peri-Peri chicken is a traditional South African Portuguese dish.


(pot bread or boerbrood) is a savoury bread that is baked at a braai over coals, usually in a cast-iron


A rich stew of meat and vegetables simmered in a cast iron pot over open coals. It literally means “pot food” in Afrikaans.

Rooibos Tea

. Rooibos is an Afrikaans word meaning “red bush” The Cyclopia genistoides bush. It is a refreshing drink that has no caffeine. The leaves were used by the Khoi people in the Cape for centuries.


A twice-baked  “dried” cake. It is  often eaten dunked in tea or coffee. They can have nuts or dried fruit included in the dough.


. A triangular fried “pie” with various fillings, usually curried meat or vegetables. Ade in made in Indian and Malay communities

Samp and beans

A traditional type of hash made with samp, sugar beans, butter, onions, potatoes, chillies and lemons.


. A Tswana recipe of tripe and sometimes lungs and intestines which are washed boiled and then cut into small pieces and flavoured and spiced.


The head of a goat, sheep or cow served with mealie meal and boiled beans


Braaied lamb’s liver which is wrapped in fat. A Tswana recipe of tripe and sometimes lungs and intestines which are washed boiled and then cut into small pieces and flavoured and spiced.


Also called Smiley” because of the toothy grin. This is the head of a goat, sheep or cow. The ears and nose are cut out and removed and the skin by scraping it with a knife. The head is then boiled and simmered till cooked.

Slap chips

Fried potato chips, like French fries but thicker and soft not crisp.


A popular fish found in South African waters. It is often braaied over hot coals and sometimes smoked and eaten cold.


Cubes of meat threaded onto sticks often with dried apricot pieces in between the meat chunks. The sosaties are marinated and cooked over hot coals.


Sour porridge made from sorghum popular in South Africa and Botswana


A starchy dish made with samp (unhusked maize) and beans


African salad made of maize meal


Beer made from fermented maize and sorghum.


Sour milk mixed with dry pap, commonly eaten by the Xhosa. Fermented milk (sour milk) called Amasi can be found in every African supermarket.

Walkie Talkies

Chicken feet and giblets. The head and feet are boiled to remove the feathers and nails. This is then served with a sauce and pap..

Waterblommetjie bredie 

(water flower stew) The flower of the Cape pondweed is a vegetable that is stewed with meat.