I come from Rustenburg, a small town in the Northwest Province of South Africa about one hour’s drive from the capital, Pretoria.
South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation, and it sure is a rainbow of different cultures. Setswana, English and Afrikaans are the main languages spoken in Rustenburg, and each culture has their own way of cooking.
There are so many different cultures and they have all had some influence on South African food. In my family, my grandmother is a brilliant cook, and has passed on many successful recipes to me.
I remember as a child going down the road to my granny’s house for dinner, and on the menu would be Bobotie (pronounced Ba-bo-tea) with yellow rice and raisins. My granny also sometimes serves this with minted peas and a green salad.
Doing a ‘Bring and Braai’ (or barbeque) is one of the more traditional ways to host a social gathering in South Africa.
To make the host’s task easier, each family that comes to the braai brings meat to cook, along with a salad. The men are mainly the ones that stand around the fire and cook, although the braai brings all families together.
We often serve stywe pap (stiff cornmeal porridge) with a tomato relish. A cooler box filled with icy cold beers and white wine is kept close at hand so that one’s drinks don’t run out.
The braai takes place on the patio or at the pool with chairs around so that everyone can sit and chat. As we sit down to eat, bottles of South African red wine and white wine are opened and offered to the guests.
Sometimes we eat off our laps, otherwise we sit around a big table, and there is much chattering and laughing while we enjoy the food and each other’s company.
We have a traditional sausage in South Africa called Boerewors, which we cook when we braai.
Boerewors on the Braai
The common spice mix found in all boerewors recipes includes ground cloves, ground coriander, ground nutmeg, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Different recipes have different ratios of spices, and some butchers add other spices to their boerewors recipe to give it a specialized flavor.
What to drink in South Africa
Rooibos – Perfect for any time of day, and great for the whole family, rooibos is a caffeine free, earthy drink, prepared and served like tea. Drink it black, or stir in a bit of cream and fresh lemon.
Rock Shandy – Looking for something refreshing and fizzy? Combine half lemonade, half soda water, and a dash of bitters over ice with a slice of lemon. Great for a hot afternoon!
Beer – Although the craft beer scene in South Africa is active and growing, it’s tough to find South African beers in the US. Check with well stocked beer merchants, or crack open a crisp lager in honor of one of South Africa’s largest brands, Castle Lager.
Wine – South Africa is famous for its wines, and many brands and varieties are available worldwide. Chenin Blanc is a very common white wine from South Africa, and pinotage, a red wine, is considered by many to be South Africa’s signature variety. A few of the better brands available in the US are Indaba Wines, Man Family Wines, and Nederburg Wines.
Amarula – How about a little something sweet to go with dessert? Amarula, a sweet, creamy liqueur is perfect neat, on the rocks, or in a strong cup of coffee. Look for it at well stocked liquor retailers.
A movie or two to round out your South African experience
Invictus – The inspiring true story of Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman), as he works to unite a divided South Africa behind its rugby team, captained by Francois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon).
Africa United – A heartwarming adventure for the whole family. Three kids from Rwanda set off to walk 3,000 miles to the Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
Stander – An action filled crime drama, following the true story of Andre Stander (played by Thomas Jane), Apartheid-era, South African police officer turned bank robber.
Meet our contributor, Rebecca Bourhill ~
I am a student, and in my spare time there is no better place to be than in the kitchen and around food. Being welcomed into many top South African Restaurants for work experience has expanded my knowledge about food.
As a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador I keep my recipes homey and simple to follow, to encourage people to cook from scratch. Whether I go out for a weekend away or an outing to our green grocer, it inspires me to create a new dish.