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I’m about to make you feel nostalgic as I share 12 Traditional South African Recipes you should try. As I’ve started cooking for my own family, I’ve enjoyed the increased confidence that comes with spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I however find myself often reaching back to my roots for traditional South African foods. Even more so now that I live in a different country...
So what are the 12 Traditional South African Recipes you should try? What are the recipes that I have copied down from my gran, who copied it from her gran and from hers? What are the traditional meals that every South African long for when they get homesick? Or, that they love to cook.
I’ve compiled a list of 12 Traditional South African Recipes you cannot go without.
In no particular order here they are. Did your favourite recipe make it to my list?
#1 Traditional South African Vetkoek
I doubt there is a South African out there who does not know what a vetkoek is. For generations, South Africans have been making vetkoek at home. It really is either homemade or storebought bread dough that is deep-fried and then stuffed with a variety of fillings. Our family enjoys it with curry mince. But they are also delicious filled with tuna or chicken mayo, ham and cheese, or even common spreads such as golden syrup, honey, peanut butter, and marmite. Homemade apricot jam is also a family favourite. Our vetkoek dough recipe is really easy to follow!
#2 Malva Pudding
This traditional South African dessert is super sweet and buttery. Made with a fair amount of sugar, apricot jam and a pouring cream sauce, this baked sponge delight has been on the dessert menu of many homes and South African restaurants. It can be very sweet so serving it with a side of hot custard and/or ice-cream is typical. Our Malva Pudding Recipe promises to deliver a saucy sponge delight!
#3 Chutney and Mayo Oven Baked Chicken
If you’re after an easy mid-week dinner then Sweet and Sticky Chutney and Mayo oven-bake Chicken is it. Simply combine Olive oil, Chutney, Mayonnaise, and garlic with either chicken thighs or drumsticks and bake for 45 minutes or until cooked. Add Worcester sauce and or brown onion soup powder as an optional extra. Checkout this recipe.
Hearty South African Bobotie is a cooked sweet curry mince topped with an egg custard. Early recipes incorporated ginger, marjoram, and lemon rind; but the addition of curry powder has somewhat simplified this recipe. You may also add dried fruit such as raisins or sultanas. Most recently more recipes are incorporating chutney, in particular, a well known South African brand, Mrs Balls Chutney. Try our trustedBobotie Recipe recipe
#5 Beskuit (Rusks)
I have oodles of memories of chomping away at rusks. My late gran was fond of baking and as a result her pantry was always plentiful of baked goods such as biscuits and rusks. I have an aunt who baked for a home industry as well, and her “beskuit recipe” is one that has made it’s rounds in our family. I haven’t yet had a chance to blog this recipe, but once I do you’ll be thanking me.
This recipe from Anina Meyer at Aninas Recipes uses only 7 ingredients including crushed All Bran Flakes.
Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat made from a variety of meat types. Cuts from beef to game meats such as ostrich or kudu are typically used. Although, beef is more commonly used primarily because of its widespread availability and lower cost relative to game. If you ask any South African ex-pat what food they miss from home, most will answer Biltong!
Biltong, as it is today, evolved from the dried meat carried by the wagon-traveling Voortrekkers, who needed stocks of durable food as they migrated from the Cape Colony north and north-eastward (away from British rule) into the interior of Southern Africa during the Great Trek. The meat was preserved and hung to be dried for a fortnight after which it would be ready for packing in cloth bags. The method and spice mix hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years, but a few variations have appeared recently, like ‘peri peri’ biltong and the use of additional ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, Chutney and dried chillies.
The Greedy Ferret has shared his Perfect Biltong Recipe and with an average score of 4.7/5, this surely must be a crowd-pleaser.
#7 Butternut Soup
Not only does butternut soup look good, but it delivers on taste as well. If made correctly it will be thick, creamy and utterly delicious. The key is to roast off the butternut prior to blending it and adding it to a large pot.
This recipe from Cookie + Kate interestingly incorporates a teaspoon of maple syrup. Although she doesn’t add any cream, she mentions that a little bit of butter rounds out the flavor and makes it truly irresistible, without weighing down the soup like heavy cream tends to do.
I would add a teaspoon of cinnamon and roast two medium sized carrots with the butternut before blending.
This list of “12 Traditional South African Recipes You Should Try” will not be complete without the inclusion of koeksisters! It can be a lot of work, however, I recently found the opposite when I attempted it myself. Once you have mastered the art of plaiting the koeksisters it will take you approximately 1hr15 minutes to deliver about 30 medium-sized koeksisters. My Traditional Koeksister recipe is not as sweet as the ones you generally buy. Yet, they are full of flavour and still syrupy, so you’re not missing out on anything.
No, it’s not a grilled cheese, or a toasted sandwich. It’s more than that. It’s a sandwich filled with your favourite fillings, placed on a hot braai and then braaied until perfection. I’m talking melted cheese, caramelised bread and pure indulgence. There is nothing average about a good braaibroodjie! Many feuds have started over having these braaied until golden and crisp and “who ate my braaibroodjie”. You can even buy apparel with “braaibroodjie” sayings. It goes without saying South Africans take their braaibroodjies seriously!
You really don’t need to follow a recipe for this one. Simply fill your sandwich with your favourite ingredients and place on a grid over hot coles. TIP! Always remember to place your fillings between two layers of cheese.
#10 Outydse Soetkoekies
My late gran spent a lot of her time in the kitchen. She was old school, she baked bread, milktart and spent a tremendous amount of time in the kitchen baking cookies for her grandchildren who would visit during the summer holidays. Her repertoire of cookies? “jamtertjies”, “hertzoggies”, ginger cookies and not to be forgotten the good old “Soetkoekie”. I can’t tell you exactly how many days these lasted, but it wasn’t long before you would find yourself reaching for the last cookie. I regret not spending more time in the kitchen with her.
These Outydse Soetkoekies are the pinnacle of South African Cookie recipes. It’s the only sugar cookie recipe you will ever want to make. No funny ingredients, just a simple, straightforward, amazingly deliciously crunchy biscuit that turns out perfect every single time!
You have to give my Outydse Soetkoekie Recipe a go!
#11 Lamb Bredie
Lamb bredie (Tomato and lamb stew or ‘tamatie bredie’) is a well-loved South African dish. You will find a variation of this recipe in most South African cookbook’s, with many adaptions and additions. The flavour even intensifies if made the day before. Simply re-heat and serve with white rice.
We love this step-by-step Lamb Bredie recipe from Yuppiechef.
#12 Melktert (Milktart)
Admittedly I have made my Gran’s Melktert for my family, but I didn’t blog it as I had blind baked the crust and a small piece of the crust broke off as I removed it from the casing. To my OCD horror and utter frustration, it wasn’t perfect enough to blog. In hindsight, I wish I did post it as it’s selfish of me not to share the best Melktert recipe with the world.
I promise to do this soon. I will also tell you more about how certain family members (my brother to name but one) always got freshly baked melktert… WITHOUT ASKING OUMA! Some favouritism I think.
In the meantime, this recipe from Louise looks amazing!
What recipe would you like to add to our list of 12 Traditional South African Recipes?
Until next time!