15 of the best South African dishes according to readers

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15 of the best South African dishes according to readers

Happy Heritage Day! Regardless of your culture and identity, food always brings us together. Whether your consider yourself a bunny chow expert, have the best hacks for cooking mogodu or prefer to cut corners with store bought melktert we can all agree there’s nothing like South African food.

Hearty stuff

1. Bobotie

This Cape Malay dish came out top with TASTE readers. Everyone has strong opinions when it comes to their own version – spicy mince or curried mince? Raisins or no raisins? But we can all agree that this baked mince dish with an eggy topping is a perfect midweek meal that never disappoints.

Brilliant-bobotieGet the recipe for brilliant bobotie with a twist here. 

2.  Bean curry

Coming in second place is bean curry. From sugar beans to kidney beans, TASTE readers can’t seem to get enough of this budget-friendly, meat-free, hearty dish. We agree, there’s nothing like a bowl of bean curry with fluffy rice or home-made rotis.

Get the recipe for bean curry here. 

3. Bredie

From waterblommetjie bredie and lamb bredie to tomato bredie and chicken bredie, TASTE readers love this fragrant stew. It’s not hard to see (and taste) why. When the aromas of this simple stew waft through the house, there’s not a single stomach that doesn’t start growling.

Get the recipe for oxtail tomato bredie here. 

4. Ting le tshohlo

Be it weddings, funerals, graduations, christenings and unveilings, you’ll always find this popular Setswana dish of fermented sorghum pap and pulled beef on the menu. Wash your hands, roll up your sleeves and dig in.

Ting-le-tshohlo-(sorghum-fermented-pap-and-pulled-beef)-Get the recipe for ting le tshohlo here. 

5. Mala mogodu

Many South African dishes feature offal. With some finessing, these budget cuts can be turned into drool-worthy dishes. This is the case when it comes to tripe. You’ll need a bit of patience but the result is worth it.

Tripe stew
Get the recipe for tripe stew here.

6. Umngqusho

Creamy, hearty, and comforting, this is samp and beans cooked simply. We love serving it with bredie or a simple cabbage stew.

Get the recipe umngqusho neembotyi here.


7. Bunny chow

Durban, take a bow! There are many opinions on the origin of this curry-and-bread dish, but we can all agree that South African cuisine wouldn’t be complete without it. What’s your favourite filling? Mutton, chicken or bean curry?

Get the recipe for vegan bunny chow here. 

8. Dombolo

Soft and pillowy steamed bread is what you need to mop up all your favourite stews and curries. Some people prefer to add herbs, sweetcorn or spices to their dough before steaming, either way, this is a staple in many SA households.

Get the recipe for giant sweetcorn dombolo here. 

Sauces and relishes

9. Atchar

Whether you took a lunchbox to the spaza to buy atchar or buy a jar at Woolies, this spicy relish can be found in many TASTE reader’s fridges. There are tons of variations, from the classics like green mango and vegetable, to modern takes like jalapeño. We don’t need much convincing to add this to our favourite dishes.

Get the recipe for vegetable atchar here. 

10. Chakalaka

From stokvels to weddings, everyone’s aunty has their secret chakalaka recipe (and you’ll be lucky if they share it with you). We’ve named this carrot, bean and turmeric dish South Africa’s mother sauce. You can serve it on any occasion (even midweek dinners) and it’ll always hit the spot.

Get the recipe for chakalaka here. 


11. Braaibroodjies

There are grilled cheese sandwiches and then there are braaibroodjies. Our secret to getting perfectly golden braaied, cheesy, sandwiches is to butter both sides. Make sure your braai isn’t without these sarmies.

Cheese-and-tomato braaibroodjie recipe
Get the recipe for cheese-and-tomato braaibroodjie here. 

12. Boerewors rolls

Who remembers buying straight-from-the-braai boerewors rolls after a long day of shopping with their parents? Or getting pocket money on sports days and spending it all on a soft bun and wors doused in tomato sauce and mustard? Boerewors rolls have a special place in our hearts and, according to TASTE readers, this South African “hotdog” is unmatched! Get the recipe for Abi’s ultimate boerie rolls 2 ways here. 

13. Braaivleis

Technically this means any cut of meat that’s braaied, but TASTE readers seem to love braaied steak and chops. Have fun with spice rubs and marinades to personalise your braai.

Spiced lamb rack
Get the recipe for spiced lamb rack here. 

14. Snoek

This salty mackerel is found in South African seas. You can take it home from the corner fish-and-chip shop deep-fried and wrapped in newspaper with slap tjips, or make it the hero of your braai with a sweet and sticky apricot glaze. Braaied snoek with sticky apricot glazeGet the recipe for braaied snoek with sticky apricot glaze here. 


15. Melktert

Many South African desserts were nominated as TASTE reader’s faves, but milk tart came out tops. This is SA’s answer to pasteis de nata and your tannie probably says her recipe is the best. deep-fried milk tartGet the recipe for deep-fried milk tart here.

For more local and lekker recipes click here. 

Lesego Madisa Article by: Lesego Madisa

TASTE's commercial content producer loves thrifty recipes, fridge foraging and never says "no" to cake. When she's not flipping through the pages of food mags and cookbooks, she's happily baking and knitting in her tiny apartment.

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