10 Foods to Enjoy in Streets of South Africa

The Republic of South Africa as the name suggests is a southern African country located at the tip of the African Peninsula. It also has a coastline that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean starting from Cape Point and 2,789 kilometers towards the Indian Ocean. Being the melting pot of cultures South Africa has an extensively varied cuisine and is nicknamed as the ‘Rainbow Cuisine’, due to its large variety of multicultural influences and sources. However, there is also another stream of South African cuisine which it has inherited from the influence of a wide multitude of cultures like the Dutch, Germans, French, British, Indo-Asians and Malay which combines cooking elements from Indonesian and Portuguese styles. This means that if you’re roaming around in the streets of South Africa, there is a lot of eating that you can do. To help you get started here’s a list of South African foods that you must try.

1. The Gatsby

Photo by Ian Barbour, CC BY-SA 2.0
Known as the South African take on the classical American ‘Hoagie’, The Gatsby is a long bread sandwich popular in the Western Cape region. The sandwiches are made with long bread which is cut in the middle length wise and filled with a choice of ingredients which include French fries, Masala (spiced) Steak, Chicken, Vienna Sausage, Fish, Bologna, Calamari and grilled steak etc. The food originated in the Cape Flats area where people would fill their leftover food in large rolls of bread and split them into four. This tradition soon hit the streets and is now sold in full, half and quarter sizes.

2. Samosa

Photo by nociveglia, CC BY 2.0
With the origins of this dish rooted in India, Samosa is a pastry which is either fried or baked and is filled with a spicy filling of a varied choice of ingredients like spiced potatoes, peas, onions, garlic, lentils, minced meat, soy nuggets and pine nuts etc. The Samosa is also known as Sambusa to the locals and is available easily around most eateries, bakeries, local corner shops and the food vendors at the petrol station. The outside crust is made up of all-purpose flour which is made into a cone and then filled with ground meat, chicken or soy nuggets and then sealed and baked in an oven or deep fried in cooking oil. The result is a crunchy pastry crust with a savory filling inside, best eaten hot.

3. Boerie Rolls

Photo by BillyTFried, CC BY-SA 3.0
Boerie Rolls are the South African variant of the American Hotdog and is prepared in a similar manner. The cuisine takes its names from ‘Boerewors’ which is a type of a South African sausage made with meat (lamb, pork, beef or a mix of two or all three) spices. The sausage is first grilled on a barbecue and then placed between buns and garnished with ketchup, tomatoes, chili and onions. Just like the American hotdog, the Boerie rolls are available throughout South Africa as well as parking lots and sports game.

4. Fish n Chips

Photo by Jeremy Keith, CC BY 2.0
Yes, the English favorite of Fish n Chips makes one of the most favorite of South African street foods. The cuisine is easily available in the Cape Town region and is usually made with battered Haddock or Atlantic cod. The fish is first cut and de-boned and then dipped into batter made of white flour, water, sodium bicarbonate, beer or milk. The fish is then deep fried and served along with fried potato chips which are similar to French fries but thicker in size.

5. Bunny Chow

Photo by ThisParticularGreg, CC BY-SA 2.0
Another South African favorite originating in Durban, the bunny chow is also known as Kota (quarter) in other regions of Africa. The dish’s origin goes to the large Indian community that resides in Durban and was also sold during the Second World War. To make a bunny chow, a quarter loaf of bread is first hollowed out from one end and is filled with a piping hot curry which can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian. The curry soaks the walls of the bread and gives the dish its characteristic taste. It is one of the most popular Indo-African cuisines and is great as a takeout food.

6. Potjiekos

Photo by Chrstphr.jones, CC BY-SA 4.0
The cuisine takes its name from the three-legged cooking pot used in traditional South African cooking known as Potjie. The name Potjiekos translates to ‘small pot food’ and is a stew prepared inside the Potjie on open fire. The recipe consists of meats, carrots, cabbage, pumpkin, cauliflower, potatoes or rice and seasoned with Dutch-Malay spices and slow cooked to perfection. The meats can be from any source including lamb, beef or pork and is usually spiced and with a marinade of spices and alcohol, mostly beer or sherry or dessert wine.

7. Melktert

Photo by DimiTalen, CC BY-SA 3.0
Melktert translates to milk tart and is a famous South African dessert originated by the Dutch. The recipe consists of a pastry crust with a creamy filling made from milk, eggs, flour and sugar. In some variants of the Melktert, the custard filling is prepared prior to baking and is then put into the oven for baking along with the pastry crust. Ground cinnamon is often sprinkled over the tart before serving.

8. Bobotie

Photo by Kai Hendry, CC BY 2.0
The dish originated as a result of the Dutch-Indonesian influence and is one of the most famous cuisines in South Africa. The dish is prepared with minced meat which is baked in the oven with an egg based custard topping. Curry powder is often added to provide a hint of tang along with raisins and other dried fruits. The dish is however not really spicy but provides a blast of various flavors in the mouth.

9. Johnny’s Roti
One of the favorite cuisine originated in Dublin, Johnny’s chip and cheese Roti available exclusively at Sunshine Chip and Ranch. Similar to a Mexican burrito, the chip n cheese Roti is prepared by wrapping French fries, cheese strips, and an assortment of ketchup and sauces along with sliced tomatoes, capsicum and onions and wrapped inside a Roti or tortilla.

10. Spiced Pineapple Wedges
While not many must have tried their hands on these, but South African pineapples are the sweetest. This is known to be an immensely popular street food and is readily available around most of South Africa and has served the streets and beach fronts since decades. The Masala sprinkled over these sweet and juicy pineapple wedges makes it a tangy and sweet mix which is a favorite of the locals.
Most of the traditional South African food is served either stewed or grilled and is cooked over open fire or in a ‘Potjie’ which is a traditional three-legged South African cooking pot. Make sure you try these dishes for a great dining experience in South Africa.

Author Bio:
Rohit Agarwal is the content contributor for Transindiatravels.com and likes to travel to various unspoiled and undiscovered locations across the world. He is also an architect and is always on a lookout for the various specimens of traditional and historic architectural styles.

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