As a South African, I can confidently say that food is a big part of our culture. With such a diverse population – we are the Rainbow Nation after all – we are lucky to have such a variety of national favourites that bring together so many cultures and traditions.

While I can’t cover them all, I can share with you some of my personal favourites…


The ultimate savoury snack and probably my favourite food. Biltong is essentially just seasoned and cured strips of meat that come in a variety of tasty formats – thin cuts, thick cuts, snapsticks, you name it. Meat is heavily embedded in South African culture, so it’s no surprise that it’s so popular. Although it has started to pop up more frequently in the UK, no one does it better than the South Africans.


Like biltong, droëwors is also a dried meat snack, although instead of using meat cuts it uses sausage – usually a mix of ground beef, mutton fat and spices, which are then hung to dry out. Equally as tasty and popular as ‘regular’ biltong.


A South African staple and cooked just about every time we have a braai (our version of a BBQ). Boerewors translates from Afrikaans as ‘farmer sausage’ and is usually a mix of beef, pork, and spices that are bespoke to the butcher you’ve bought it from. It generally comes in one long coiled piece which is then cut into smaller edible chunks once cooked. We typically smother the pieces in lemon juice before eating – don’t knock it till you try it!


The word potjiekos translates as ‘food made in a pot’, and essentially it is just that! We tend to just call it potjie (poy-kee) for short, which is actually the name of the cast-iron pot that it’s cooked in, which is heated over hot coals. A potjiekos is a stew that is prepared in such a pot and is usually a mix of meat (lamb being a personal favourite!) and vegetables that is left to slow cook over a number of hours outdoors. The dish originates from the Afrikaans in the 1800’s as they travelled the countryside and were in need of meals made in a single pot.

But, enough about meat – now onto the sweet stuff…

Don Pedro

A Don Pedro (or Dom Pedro to some!) is a classic South African cocktail that you’ll find on almost any menu – it is basically a delicious boozy dessert that’s made up of ice cream, cream and Amarula or Kahlua liqueur, and sprinkled with shaved chocolate. Highly, highly recommend.

Malva Pudding

Only one of the most delicious things your taste buds will ever experience. Malva pudding is a sweet, spongy pudding of Cape Dutch origin made with apricot jam that is served warm and topped with a cream sauce or custard. It is so popular in my family that we often eat it on Christmas day instead of traditional Christmas cake.

Melktert / Milk Tart

Last, but certainly not least, is milk tart. This South African classic came to bear in the 1600s from Dutch settlers who came to Cape Town. It’s almost akin to creamy custard cheesecake, but with a flaky crust and topped with a dusting of cinnamon. It was a staple on the menu when I was growing up and certainly brings back some wonderful memories.

These are just a few of my favourites, but hopefully (when things go back to normal) should you find yourself in South Africa, you can seek a few out to try for yourself – or indeed find some favourites of your own. I guarantee you won’t regret it!