15 of South Africa’s most-loved heritage dishes – as voted for by you

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15 of South Africa's most-loved heritage dishes – as voted for by you

This Heritage Month, we’re celebrating the melting pot that is South Africa the best way we know how – with food. We asked our followers on Instagram for their most-loved local dishes. We had hundreds of answers – and these are the most loved ones of all.

1. Dombolo

Steamed dumplings, often served alongside a slow-cooked stew? It’s no wonder these are one of South Africa’s national treasures. This classic heritage recipe by chef Mmabatho Molefe pairs an unctuous lamb shin stew with beautiful, satisfying dombolo.

inyama namadombolo lamb shin with dumplingsGet the recipe for inyama namadombolo here.

2. Boerewors

This one needs no introduction. Did you even have a braai if there wasn’t boerewors on offer? Whether served as is, or as part of the classic ‘boerie roll’, topped with tomato sauce and crispy onions, there’s nothing quite like a boerewors on the braai.
Get the recipe for chakalaka and boerewors here.

3. Mogodu

Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that tripe is one of South Africa’s most treasured foods. Looking for an easy recipe? This recipe by Lucia Mthiyane is lightly spiced and cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Serve with amasi or yoghurt and the starch of your choice.
tripe mala mogodu ulusuGet the recipe for mala mogudu here.

4. Potjie

There’s something especially comforting about a potjie. Mogau Seshoene’s lamb knuckle potjie comes with the suggestion to serve pot bread on the side, which you can put together while the potjie does its thing.
Lamb knuckle potjie with grandma’s pot breadGet the recipe for lamb knuckle potjie with pot bread here.

5. Uphuthu

Otherwise known as pap, uphuthu is a staple amongst most South African households. This simple version is served with amasi and is perfect for those warmer summer evenings.
Uphuthu-namasi-dry-pap-with-sour-milkGet the recipe for uphuthu namasi here.

6. Umngqusho

A wonderfully humble and hearty combination of samp and beans, umngqusho holds up as a dish all on its own but also plays very well on the side of a rich stew.
umngqusho-neembotyi-samp-and-beansGet the recipe for umngqusho here.

7. Bobotie

Another divisive one – even before you’ve debated adding raisins – bobotie is the wonderful result of someone’s genius idea to combine curried mince and a savoury custard. Which when you think about it, is not an obvious match! But oh, is it good!

bobotieGet the recipe for bobotie here.

8. Curry

No surprise that this received many votes, curry is the all-rounder that satisfies every craving, be it carnivorous, vegan or seafood. The hardest task we had was deciding which curry recipe to include here. From Durban curries to Cape Malay curries, and more recent adaptations by other population groups in SA, South African curries have a huge amount of diversity. Zorah Booley’s classic chicken curry below is in the style of a kalya – another curry that’s influenced our local curries.
Get the recipe for chicken curry here.

9. Biryani

Don’t you dare call this a curry, the mighty biryani is a category all its own. Undeniably, this layered rice dish is a labour of love, but it’s worth it. All you need is a good recipe, like the one below by Saadiyah Hendricks, and some patience.
BiryaniGet the recipe for biryani

10. Peppermint Crisp tart

Expats who leave SA name this luscious pudding as one of the things they miss the most. Yes, it is insanely sweet, but it’s become part of our national heritage. You can’t go wrong with the recipe below – it’s a classic, by long-time TASTE columnist, Sam Woulidge – and perpetually one of the most-viewed recipes on our site.
Peppermint Crisp tart recipeGet the recipe for Peppermint Crisp tart here.

11. Malva pudding

In hot competition with Peppermint Crisp is malva pudding. Though it’s best served warm, in the depths of winter with lashings of custard, no one will say no to a helping the rest of the year. The secret to a great malva recipe? Moist, soft sponge and an oversupply of syrupy sauce. Hannah Lewry’s individual malva puddings is a corker of a recipe, much beloved by the TASTE team.

Get the recipe for Malva pudding here.

12. Milk tart

This cinnamon-topped classic is great for those who find the two puddings above a little too sweet. And while we do love the traditional version, we can also highly recommend Keletso Motau’s decadent milk tart malva below. Great for those who can’t quite make up their mind between the two!







Get the recipe for milk tart malva pudding

13. Amagwinya

Amagwinya are light and airy fried balls that can either be stuffed before or after cooking. The recipe differs slightly to another traditional South African favourite – vetkoek – magwinya are supposed to be lighter and more airy than a vetkoek. They take practice to perfect, but the late, great Lesego Semenya’s recipe is a great place to start your journey.
Amagwinya-2Get the recipe for amagwinya here.

14. Bredie

Another crowd-pleaser, bredie wins over every kind of dietary requirement. A variation from the traditional waterblommetjie, this oxtail version is the ultimate winter warmer.

Get the recipe for oxtail tomato bredie here.

15. Ujeqe

Clearly steamed bread will always have a place in the hearts of South Africans and, honestly, we’re not surprised. This spinach-studded version by Lucia Mthiyane is easy to make and just so happens to pair especially well with oxtail.
steamed spinach bread ujeqeGet the recipe for ujeqe here.

Hungry for more local recipes? Find our South African recipe guide here.

Jess Spiro Article by: Jess Spiro

Jess Spiro is a freelance food writer, chef and restaurant critic based in Cape Town, who can often be found in search of the next great plate of food. Follow her on Instagram @jess_spiro to see what she's eating.

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