South Africa’s many flavours

South Africa hasn’t earned itself the status of a ‘rainbow nation’ for nothing; with so many local cultures and climes mixing and mingling to the point of obscurity, it’s pleasantly refreshing to know that pockets of culture have been perfectly preserved when it comes to food, and the flavours of Mzansi are many!

Any visit to this country needs to include a proper South African food and wine tour inked into the itinerary – it’s more than simply sampling the various foods, it’s also about experiencing the cultures from which these traditional dishes were born. Here are the foods you’ll definitely want to taste:

Authentic Kasi (township) Cuisine

Head to the townships with a tour group and prepare for a vibrant adventure. In Khayamandi, a small township located near Stellenbosch, you will be treated to live music, captivating story-telling hosts and a tangible buzz of activity. If you’re interested in sampling kasi (township) foods, you have to enjoy it in the actual township – drinking in the atmosphere is an integral part of a township tour.

A tasty morogo dish

Kasi cuisine is rather meaty and is often cooked on the bone, so don’t expect prime cuts of fillet or boneless chicken breasts at a township restaurant. Braised stews and grilled meats (and vegetables, like mielies) are typical township foods and morogo (spinach) is a favourite. Eating with your hands and relishing the flavours is all part of the kasi experience.

Aromatic Cape Malay Meals

The Cape Malay heritage stretches back to the 1600’s, when the Dutch East India Company dominated the seas and erected a refreshment station in the Cape. However, labourers were needed and slaves from Sumatra were brought to the Cape, bringing a range of fragrant spices from the East with them. Today, Cape Malay dishes are characterised by their aromatic blend of spices that are mild and tasty.

Malay Duck Bobotie

Some great Cape Malay dishes include smoorsnoek – snoek that is cooked over a fire; oumens onder die kombers (old people under the blanket), meat balls wrapped in cabbage leaves and slow cooked in pot; and bobotie, a meatloaf dish that’s topped with an egg custard or mashed potato and cheese. For an authentic Cape Malay food and drink tour, head to the historical Bo-Kaap area. Alternatively, many of these dishes have been incorporated into the menus of reputable restaurants so if you happen to spot ‘bobotie’ under mains, be adventurous and try it out.

Traditional Afrikaner Dishes

The foods that are considered as traditionally ‘Afrikaner’ are rooted in the historical time of the Voortrekkers, the original group of Dutch, German and French settlers who trekked (moved) across the country during the 1700’s and 1800’s in search of greener pastures. The Voortrekkers were constantly moving forward and, as a result, developed cooking techniques that allowed them to prepare food on the go.

A braai – grilling meat over an open fire – is a South African favourite.)

Grilling meats over an open fire, known as a braai (barbeque), and preparing stews of meat and vegetables in a three-legged cast-iron pot, known as potjiekos (pot food), was a typical method of food preparation for the Voortrekkers. Braais and potjiekos dishes are still prepared much the same way today and are often supplemented with fresh salads and good wine.

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