Celebrating South Africa’s heritage through food

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Celebrating South Africa’s heritage through food

There are many ways to learn about people’s heritage, but one of the best is through food. Food is filled with memories, stories and distinct flavours that represent cultures in a distinct way. To celebrate Heritage Day, we asked some of our favourite foodies to share their favourite dishes and shine a light on underrated South African foods.

Hannah Lewry

Food stylist, contributing food editor at TASTE

“My family is British, so definitely cottage pie. I like to make it with bobotie spice and sweet potato for a South African twist, adding crème fraîche and chives to the mash.”

Underrated SA dish:
“I love Nando’s peri-peri chicken livers and soft rolls – but I think that’s probably more Portuguese. And definitely Simba chutney chip rolls!”

Yudhika Sujanani

Food blogger, TV presenter, owner of Holi Cow

“There are so many dishes that make me travel back in time, celebrating humble beginnings and my heritage… An old-fashioned lamb breyani, curried pilchards and soft flour roti, masala fried fish with rice and dhal, and rich, buttery soji.”

Underrated SA dish:

“South African Indian dishes are different from the ones found in India. The South African Gulab Jamun, for example, is quite unique. I’m not sure how the recipe came about – the original Indian jamuns are round and served in a bowl of syrup, while the ones here are shaped like mini logs, dunked in syrup and dusted with coconut. Some say they’re the Indian version of a koesister. However they came about, I am thankful – they’re moreishly decadent.”



Jess Spiro

Food writer

“My father is Jewish, so we grew up eating a lot of Jewish food. One of my faves would have to be chopped herring (not to be confused with rollmops). It sounds weird to anyone who hasn’t had it – chopped herring and boiled egg is served on a sugared biscuit-type thing called kichel. This takes me back to many a Jewish holiday.”

Underrated SA dish:

“The rest of SA is probably 100% on board with this, but I feel like bobotie doesn’t get the attention it deserves. You rarely see it on menus. There’s really nothing better than a perfectly spiced bobotie served with a blob of Mrs Balls.”

Ingrid Jones’ BobotieView the recipe here.

Dr Tracy Nelwamondo,

Owner of Modern Traditions and Malie’s Ice Cream

“Hands down, creamed pumpkin leaf and flowers with a bit of chilli, served with yellow fermented maize pap.”

Underrated SA dish:
“Mbambara nuts. Not only are they tasty as a snack, in soups or in good old tshidzimba, they are a nutritional powerhouse – rich in carbohydrates, fats and protein – making them a complete food on their own.”


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READ MORE: The indigenous South African ingredients you really need to know about

Mogau Seshoene aka The Lazy Makoti

Chef, best-selling author, contributing food editor at TASTE

“My favourite heritage dish is umngqusho – samp and beans.”

Underrated SA dish:

“Mopane worms. Delicious in a peanut sauce!”


Khanya Mzongwana

Contributing food editor at TASTE

“Umngqusho cooked with lots of split peas when it’s cold, umphokoqo namasi (phutu and maas) when it’s hot – WITH SUGAR! Side note: people who have umphokoqo with sugar are shamed so badly; I am here to say it doesn’t matter!”


TASTE Article by: TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.

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