February 22, 2024

Food Art

Moments of Making, One Bite at a Time

What South Africans Eat: Five Traditional Local Dishes

2 min read

The great South Africa is known for its cultural diversity, but it’s also known for its excellent foods — as you might see from almost any food influencer who visits South Africa on their next journey, there’s a whole lot of different traditional South African that you just have to experience.

Bobotie or dombolo? Koeksisters or biltong?

Here are five traditional local dishes that will have your mouth watering, with some proudly local recipes courtesy of The South African and others..


Bobotie is a traditional Cape Malay dish, which is made with a combination of spices and minced meat; bobotie is famous for its richness, and its recipe that traditionally includes curry powder and cumin. It is usually served with yellow rice (made with turmeric).

ALSO READ: South African bobotie – The dish that never fails to please


Dombolo is best known as a traditional steamed bread that is enjoyed throughout Africa. It’s one of the simplest dough recipes, requiring only a few ingredients and taking less than half an hour to make (even if you are no expert in the kitchen).

Dombolo is traditionally eaten with stews, but can also be sliced and slathered with butter for quick enjoyment.

ALSO READ: Dombolo – Traditional South African steamed bread


Koeksisters are another traditional Cape Malay dish, eaten as a pudding or traditional sweet treat. Traditional Cape Malay koeksisters are usually made with flour and sugar, and then fried and covered in shaved coconut – though sometimes even icing sugar for those with a serious sweet tooth. Not all koeksisters are twisted and syruped!

ALSO READ: Traditional koeksisters: South African indulgence at its best


Biltong is a snack that has become associated with South Africa. Simply, it consists of meat that has been carefully sliced, spiced, and then hung to dry until the desired level of dryness has been achieved. Commercial  “biltong makers” have become more popular in recent years for people everywhere who want to make the snack for themselves.

ALSO READ: Trevor Noah Tells Americans: You Can’t Waste Biltong!

Everyone has their own idea of what a perfect biltong spice mix is! The South African’s great biltong recipe is a good way to get started.

ALSO READ: South African Biltong – The ultimate South African snack


Isijingi is a traditional South African dish that is made with pap and butternut or pumpkin. If you want something hot and sweet that will give your body a great boost, isijingi is the way to go! Isijingi is a great dish to accompany almost any stew, but it can also be eaten on its own.

Original article by Alex Coyne.


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