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Top 10 South African Recipes to Take Home

When visiting South Africa, there’s no doubt you’ll end up trying some local cuisine that you might want to try again. This list includes some of the most authentic and delicious South African meals the country has to offer. They’re all relatively easy to make, and packed with flavour! So feel free to try these Top 10 South African recipes you can take home.

1.    Gatsby

A Gatsby, similar to an American hoagie, is a fully loaded roll stuffed with whatever you like – most commonly, it’s French fries! It’s most popular in the Mother City of Cape Town, and it can be pretty messy, but it’s certainly worth the end result of culinary satisfaction. Here’s how to create one of your own masterpieces:

–    1 tsp olive oil
–    4 slices bologna
–    1 crusty roll, split and toasted
–    Tomato sauce (ketchup)
–    Peri-peri sauce (hot sauce)
–    A large handful of freshly cooked French Fries
–    ½ cup finely shredded lettuce

–    Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat
–    Add the bologna in a single layer and cook until undersides are browned (2–3 minutes)
–    Flip and continue to cook until browned (about 2 minutes more)
–    While the bologna cooks, stir together some tomato sauce and peri-peri sauce to taste
–    Remove the griddled bologna from the heat and arrange inside the toasted roll
–    Top the meat with the hot French fries, then with the spicy tomato sauce (ketchup)
–    Finish with the shredded lettuce and close the sandwich. Serve immediately



2.    Bunny Chow

Largely popular in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, Bunny Chows are an Indian favourite – mostly because of their fantastic value for money. It’s basically tasty curry set in a hollowed out half-loaf of bread, but is sure to satisfy the hunger of most! Try it out yourself here:

–    1 loaf of white bread
–    Dash of oil
–    1 onion (finely chopped)
–    Pinch of masala or hot curry powder
–    1 tsp chili powder
–    500 grams of boneless lamb/mutton (cut into cubes or strips)
–    3 cloves garlic (crushed or chopped)
–    1 tsp fresh ginger (finely chopped or grated)
–    1 can chopped tomatoes
–    2 potatoes (cut into small cubes)
–    2 carrots (cut into slices)
–    ½ tsp sugar
–    1 tsp salt
–    ½ tsp black pepper
–    2 fresh tomatoes (sliced)
–    1 punnet fresh coriander leaves (to serve)

–    Heat the oil in a potjie over a medium-hot fire and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until it becomes soft. Then add the masala and (optional) chilli powder and fry for 1–2 minutes until the pan becomes sticky.
–    If the potjie starts to burn, add a very little bit of water (only do this if it’s really necessary)
–    Add the meat, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for about 1 minute
–    Toss in the tinned tomatoes, chopped potatoes and carrots, sugar, salt and pepper, then stir, scraping the bottom of the potjie with your spoon to loosen any and all sticky bits
–    Cover with lid and simmer over medium-low coals for about 30 minutes, stirring now and again so the bottom of the potjie doesn’t burn (if it burns, your poitjie is too dry- add water)
–    After 30 minutes, take the lid off and stick a fork into the potatoes to make sure they’re cooked through. As soon as the potatoes are soft, the meal is essentially ready
–    Cook uncovered for a few minutes to allow the sauce to become a thick gravy. As soon as this happens the curry is ready, so take the potjie off the fire
–    Taste and adjust with a bit of extra salt if it needs it, then cut the loaf of bread into halves and scoop or cut out the centres of each half, essentially creating a ‘bowl’ for the curry
–    Fill the hole of each half loaf with the curry and sauce, and serve the scooped out bread centre and a salad of tomato and fresh coriander leaves on the side



3.    Milk Tart (Melktert)

Melktert is one of South Africa’s signature dessert dishes, and is typically homemade. Whether you want a dessert for a dinner party, a cake for a special occasion or just a slice of something sweet with your afternoon tea, melktert is always the perfect choice.

–    1 packet Cream Cracker biscuits (or similar)
–    1 litre full-cream milk
–    1 vanilla pod
–    3 large eggs
–    250 grams white sugar
–    50 grams corn flour
–    25 grams cake flour
–    50 grams butter
–    Ground cinnamon (for sprinkling)

–    Microwave the milk and vanilla seeds together in a large heat-proof bowl for 3-4 minutes
–    Meanwhile, crumble the biscuits into thumb-nail size pieces and use to generously cover the base and sides of a 23cm diameter shallow tart plate
–    Beat the eggs and sugar thoroughly together. Add both flours. Add this mixture into the hot milk, return it to the microwave and cook for 10 minutes, whisking regularly to ensure a smooth thick sauce
–    Pour the sauce gently and evenly over the biscuits to fill the tart plate
–    Set aside to cool down to room temperature, sprinkle generously with ground cinnamon and refrigerate until firm enough to slice into wedges



4.    Bobotie

The origins of Bobotie can be traced back to the eastern influence on South African culture. The Cape Malay society is well-known for this dish, usually served with yellow rice. Here’s how to make your own:

–    2 tbsp vegetable oil
–    2 medium onions (minced)
–    700 grams ground beef
–    1 cup milk
–    2 slices Texas toast thick-sliced bread
–    ½ cup raisins
–    1 tsp apricot jam
–    1 tbsp hot chutney
–    ½ tbsp curry powder
–    1 tsp salt
–    ½ tsp ground black pepper
–    1 large egg
–    1 pinch salt
–    1 bay leaf

–    Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (350 degrees F). Lightly grease a 28×8 cm (9×13-inch) baking dish
–    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions in the hot oil until soft. Break the ground beef into the skillet and cook until brown
–    Place the milk in a shallow dish. Soak the bread in the milk. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread. Set the milk aside. Add the bread to the beef mixture. Stir in the raisins, apricot jam, chutney, curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish
–    Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour
–    While the bobotie bakes, whisk together the reserved milk, egg, and a pinch of salt. Pour over top of the dish. Lay the bay leaf onto the top of the milk mixture
–    Return the bobotie to the oven until the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving



5.    Frikkadels

Frikkadels are essentially South African braised meatballs, and are a very popular comfort food. This easy recipe provides you with fantastic results every time:

–    500 grams minced beef
–    1 medium onion (finely chopped)
–    1 cup soft breadcrumbs
–    3 garlic cloves (crushed)
–    1 tsp ground paprika
–    2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
–    1 tbsp fresh thyme (finely chopped)
–    1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
–    1 tsp salt
–    ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
–    2 eggs (beaten)
–    2 tbsp vegetable oil

–    Combine all ingredients together and mix well
–    Form the meatballs by rolling portions into balls and pressing down slightly to flatten them
–    Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and brown the meatballs on both sides
–    Reduce heat and cook until the meat is no longer pink
–    Serve on top of creamy garlic mashed potatoes

6.    Lamb Potjiekos

A poitjiekos is a very authentic South African meal, similar to a braai because it also involves a fire, cooler box, and good company. Making poitjiekos is usually a very social occasion, and now you can make your own:

–    Dash of oil
–    800 grams lamb
–    2 onions (chopped)
–    5 carrots (sliced)
–    1 bunch green beans (cut in half)
–    10 patti pans
–    250 grams mushrooms (1 punnet)
–    10 baby potatoes (peeled)
–    3 mielies (each cut into 3 pieces)
–    Salt and pepper

–    Heat the oil in a large, heavy black pot and fry the meat and onions until brown. Season to taste while frying
–    Add enough water to cover the meat (and a touch of red wine if you prefer), lower the heat and let the meat simmer for about 60-90 minutes (until tender)
–    Add the potatoes and mielies (and any other veggies that take a long time to cook)
–    Make a mix of mushroom and brown onion sauce, add a bit of chutney and add this to the pot (just enough to cover the meat). Close the lid and leave to simmer
–    When the first set of veggies are halfway done, add the green beans, patti pans and mushrooms – arrange these in layers over the other veggies. Add a bit of salt and more sauce if necessary
–    Serve with rice or samp



7.    Vetkoek

Vetkoek is a traditional Afrikaans recipe and is basically fried bread dough (that goes extremely well with jam and cheese). It’s crispy outside, and warm and fluffy on the inside, usually with a sweet jam filling.

–    2 cups lukewarm water
–    2 tsp sugar
–    2 tsp instant yeast
–    5 cups flour
–    2 tsp salt
–    2 tbsp oil (add extra for frying)

–    Stir sugar in the lukewarm water and add the yeast. Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl
–    Add oil to the yeast liquid. Mix dry ingredients with yeast liquid using a wooden spoon.
–    Work to a firm dough, adding extra flour if needed, until sides of bowl are clean.
–    Turn dough on to a lightly floured table and knead thoroughly until it is firm, elastic and no longer sticky (about 10 minutes).
–    Shape dough into a ball and place into mixing bowl and cover with cloth. Allow dough to double in size and dough springs back when pressed with a floured finger (60 minutes in a warm place, 2 hours at room temperature).
–    Turn risen dough onto a lightly floured surface, flatten to knock out air bubbles and knead to make firm.
–    Flatten to about 1 cm thick (little less than inch) and cut pieces into 8 cm x 8 cm (3″ x 3″).
–    Cook in warm oil until brown. Turn the vetkoek around in oil if it doesn’t flip itself around (it does that sometimes)
–    Slice open and smear with butter, jam and cheese.

8.    Rusks

These are delicious traditional yeast-baked treats that are fantastic for dunking in tea or coffee. The boer trekkers made that a tradition for every morning during their travels from the Cape to the Transvaal.

–    7 cups self-raising flour
–    1 ½ cups sugar
–    5 cups All Bran flakes
–    1 cup sunflower seeds
–    1 cup mixed seeds (e.g. linseeds, poppy seeds, etc.)
–    ½ cup raisins
–    ½ cup coconut flakes
–    1 tsp baking powder
–    1 tsp salt
–    3 eggs (lightly whisked)
–    2 cups buttermilk
–    2 cups melted butter

–    Pre-heat the oven to 180C
–    Line a large oven dish with butter
–    Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Make a big hole in the centre and add the eggs, buttermilk and butter
–    Mix well using a wooden spoon or your hands until it forms a dough
–    Place the dough into the oven dish and press evenly.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown
–    Once ready, remove from the oven and immediately turn out on a working surface.  Cut into finger shapes and place back onto the oven dish
–    Dry in a 100C oven overnight or for at least 8 hours, leaving the oven door slightly open (Store in an airtight container)



9.    Koeksisters

These awesome twisted treats are perfect for tea time. If you’ve tasted these before, chances are youwant to try them again! So here’s the recipe:

–    400 grams white sugar
–    275 ml water
–    15 ml lemon juice

–    Put the sugar and water into a small pot over a medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar
–    Simmer gently, uncovered for 7 – 8 minutes. Take the pot off the stove, and stir in the lemon juice
–    Set aside while you make the dough

–    180 grams cake flour
–    15 grams baking powder
–    Pinch of salt
–    20 grams cold butter/margarine
–    150 ml milk
–    750 ml cooking oil (1 bottle)

–    Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together
–    Cut the butter/margarine into small blocks and rub into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs
–    Pour the milk into the flour mixture. Use a table knife to gentle mix the ingredients together to form a dough
–    Roll the dough out, cut into narrow strips and plait the koeksisters
–    Deep fry the koeksisters in batches of 3 – 4 until golden brown
–    Lift the koeksisters out of the oil using a slotted spoon and immediately drop into the lukewarm syrup
–    Allow koeksisters to drain on a wire rack. Serve cold



10.    Peppermint Crisp Tart

This decadent South African dessert is wonderfully rich and will satisfy any sugar cravings. The recipe usually calls for ingredients that can be difficult to locate outside of South Africa itself, so the following has been adapted with alternative ingredients:

–    2X 200 gram packets of Tennis biscuits
–    2X non-dairy whip (Orley Whip)
–    2X 297 gram tins caramel
–    4X 49 gram bars of Nestle’s Peppermint Crisp Chocolate (grated, but not too finely)

–    Whip the Orley Whip or cream until firm
–    Add caramel and half the grated chocolate and stir in gently. Do not beat it again, as this will cause the cream to become runny and prevent it from setting properly.
–    Layer biscuits in large rectangular dish (300 mm x 200 mm x 800 mm deep) and spread half of the mixture over the biscuit layer
–    Sprinkle with grated chocolate, reserve enough chocolate for the final topping. The chocolate should not be grated too finely: chunky bits of Peppermint Crisp will make it look even more appetizing.
–    Repeat with a second layer of biscuit and caramel mixture, and top with the remaining grated chocolate
–    Refrigerate for at least 6 hours to allow the ingredients to chill and set

About Bronwyn Paxton

Article by: Bronwyn Paxton
on April 8, 2014
Filed under  Africa Blog • South Africa • Travel Articles 
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