14 Foods You’ve Gotta Try In South Africa

It’s so much more than braai in South Africa!

featured 14 foods in south africa

Heading to South Africa and you have no idea what to order on the menu? Whether you’re in Johannesburg or Cape Town, food is a huge part of its multiethnic culture. You’ll encounter influences from the Dutch, the Zulus, the Portuguese Indians and the Cape Malays. If anything looks out of the ordinary, don’t ever say “gross”, just remember you’ve got to try it at least once. With a glass of fabulous South African wine in hand, everything will go down nice and easy!

1. Potjie Kos

If you love a good clay pot dish, potjie kos literally translates to “pot food.” It’s a traditional way of cooking prevalent throughout southern Africa that was first brought to the area by the Dutch back during the 17th century. This is a delicious way to make stew in a cast iron pot.

potjiekos cape town south africa food

2. Boboti

A South African dish with spiced curry, minced meat and baked with an egg-based topping, mostly served with pilaf rice. And we must mention, boboti is also the national dish of South Africa!

Boboti South Africa food

3. Shisa Nyama

Aka in Zulu: to burn meat. But, the food is never actually burnt. Shisa Nyama is South African townships’ terminology for describing the coming together and sharing of food cooked over fire. In Cape Town, you’ll probably want to visit a popular Shisa Nyama called “Mzoli’s Place” (Ny 115, Cape Town 7751, South Africa) located in the heart of a township named Gugulethu. The food will be cooked using wood and coal for real smokey taste, and you’ll socialize with folks from different nationalities to eat with great music. Buy some meat at a butcher shop at the venue then grill away!

Mzoli's Place South Africa

4. Karate Water

It’s basically brandy and coke. The locals love it and call it “Klippies and coke” since they tend to use Klipdrift brandy as a mix. You might hear others call it Karate Water since those are some crazy moves you might be busting after a few drinks.

klippies en coke south africa

5. Boerewors Roll

We’ve got hot dogs and South Africa has Boerewors Rolls which are just as delicious if not even more addicting. The name comes from the Afrikaans words boer (“farmer”) and wors (“sausage”). South Africa’s version entails Boereworse (sausages from ground beef,  ground pork and lots of spices) barbecued to local perfection. Expect to whiff amazing aromas like coriander, cloves, nutmeg and black peppers.

honestcooking.com Boerewors Roll south africa food

6. Waterblommetjie

Meaning  “small water flower stew” in Afrikan. Waterblommetjies contain: lamb, aponogeton distachyos flowers (Cape asparagus). This is more of a winter dish that tastes like mashed green beans and pumpkin.

Waterblommetjiebredie South Africa food

7. Koeksisters

If you’re in Cape Town or Johannesburg, you’ve probably seen koeksisters being sold on street corners many time by now. This sticky and sweet treat has various versions in different cultures, but the South African kind is particularly syrupy, a twisted or braided doughnut. Although if you’re in Western Cape, their koeksisters have a spicy taste to it with a sprinkle of coconut.

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8. Bunny Chow

Forget burgers and fries! South Africa’s fast food trend has always been these “bunnies” as they would call it. Bunny chows are basically a hollowed loafs of bread filled with curry. If you love a good hearty meal, you’ll die for this.

bunny chow south africa food

9. Droewors

This is the South African version of a salami. Droewors are made from boereworse sausages, quite thin then dried. They make awesome snacks for your long road trips.

Droewors south africa food

10. Biltong

Love a good beef jerky? We might’ve just found something a little stranger but tastes even better! Try South Africa’s biltong. Their meats can range from beef to ostrich, so be careful of what you’re consuming if you’re not used to eating bizarre foods!

Biltong South Africa food

11. Mashonzha

Ewww right? Think again! Mashonzha, which are mopane worms, is one of the top things you’ve got to try in South Africa. These non-toxic caterpillar-like worms are typically grilled or fried then served with peanuts or chili sauce. C’mon, you only live once!

mashonza south africa food

12. Frikkadels

Italians have their meatballs, South Africans have their frikkadels! These savory little guys are made with onions, bread, eggs, vinegar, nutmeg and coriander and can be either baked or deep-fried.

frikkadels south africa food

13. Pap

If you’re a lover of grits, then you pap might just be the perfect dish for you. In South Africa, pap is a traditional porridge or polenta, typically comes with meat or vegetable soup. Pap can be runny or crumbly. Dive in!

pap south africa food

14. Braai

By now, you probably already know that braai means BBQ. So…while in South Africa, you’ve just gotta braai away!

Braai. Image by davyart from Pixabay

Wendy Hung


As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and Russia because they were all so different! St. Bart's was pretty amazing too (wink)!

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