Top 20 Foods to Savour in South Africa

“Take milk with your rooibos? Fancy some pap with your wors? Brave enough to try some skop or mashonzha?” ask the ladies and gents at The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort.

If you’ve ever considered yourself an explorer of food, a gastronomic libertine, take a look at our glossary of South African cuisine below. Some dishes might sound a little more enticing than others…

“South Africa is home to myriad ethnic and racial groups, many of them migrant communities, all of whom have contributed to the country’s rich cultural mix. The resultant kaleidoscope – the famous ‘rainbow’ – applies not only to the people but to the food, for one finds in South Africa the most extraordinary range of cuisines.”

The Greenhouse

Top 20 Foods to Savour in South Africa

Brush up on your culinary vocabulary with our quick list of indigenous South African food terms. The glossary represents ethnic dishes of particular groups, many since adopted by other groups and no longer the preserve of the group of origin. It is far from exhaustive, representing only a sample of the full South African menu, but here are our top 20:

  1. Achaar – Imported to South Africa by migrant Indians, achaar is a salad made of mango and oil – comes spiced.
  2. Amanqina – A hoof of a cow, pig or sheep. It is boiled, then spiced for taste. It is very delicious but sticky.
  3. Biltong – Dried and salted raw meat similar to the beef jerky made in the USA. An older Afrikaner delicacy, can be made of ostrich, beef, kudu or any other red meat.
  4. Bobotie – Of Malay origin, made with minced meat and curried spices. An egg sauce is poured on top of this and it is then baked.
  5. Boerewors – A traditional spicy South African sausage made of beef or lamb. Popular at open-air braais (barbecues), where it is grilled over charcoal.
  6. Chakalaka – A salad of Indian/Malay origin made of onion, garlic, ginger, green pepper, carrots and cauliflower, spiced with chillies and curry.
  7. Chotlo – A delicacy of the Tswana people, this is meat cut into extremely small pieces with the bones removed. The meat is first boiled, then ground before being put back into the pot and stirred until it becomes very fine.
  8. Frikkadel – Traditional South African meat balls. Made from tomatoes, onion, minced beef and other ingredients, and shaped into round balls.
  9. Koeksusters – Traditional Afrikaner, plaited dough cakes. They are syrupy, sweet but sticky.
  10. Mala – Intestines, especially those of chicken. They are thoroughly cleaned, cooked in boiled water, then fried. Eaten with pap (see below).
  11. Mashonzha – Worms, similar to caterpillars in appearance. These establish their habitat in and around mopani trees found in the Lowveld areas of Mpumalanga and the Northern Province. Popular with the Shangaans, Vendas and Bapedi of the Northern Province.
  12. Mogodu – Tripe, thoroughly cleaned then boiled for two to three hours. Once softened, allowed to simmer before being served with pap (see below).
  13. Morogo – Wild spinach, the most popular being thepe; delicious when boiled, softened and served with stiff porridge.
  14. Pap – Boiled corn meal, often served with sous – a sauce, usually featuring tomato and onions.
  15. Samoosa – A small, spicy, triangular-shaped pie that has been deep-fried in oil. Made by the Indian and Malay communities, samoosas are popular with South Africans in general.
  16. Serobe – A dish of the Tswana people. Thoroughly washed, then boiled mixture of tripe, intestines and lungs. They are cut into small pieces with a pair of scissors before being spiced to add taste.
  17. Snoek – This is a popular and tasty fish, caught off the Cape coast and often eaten smoked. If you’re lucky, you may get to experience a snoek braai – a real South African treat.
  18. Skop – Head of a cow, sheep or goat. The head is first scrubbed with a sharp instrument like a razor to remove skin and unwanted parts like ears and the nose are then cut out. The head is then boiled and allowed to simmer. Favoured by African men.
  19. Ting – A sour porridge made of sorghum – great for breakfast and favoured by the Tswanas in South Africa and Botswana.
  20. Umngqusho – A delicacy among the Xhosa people, this is samp (maize kernels) mixed with beans. It is boiled over three hours then mixed with beans. Salt and oil are added and the dish allowed to simmer.

The Plettenberg

When it comes to drinks, be sure to try Rooibos tea, a popular South African herbal tea made in the Cape from the Cyclopia genistoides bush. Rooibos (Afrikaans for “red bush”) has no caffeine and less tannin than regular tea.

Discover More

Go on your own gastronomic journey through Africa with us and watch our interview with Executive Chef for Liz McGrath’s The Collection, Peter Tempelhoff, as he explains South Africa’s local ingredients.

What are your favourite dishes from the list above?

Madagascar Through Native Eyes

Why does someone leave life in the city of love for a hotel on the remote coast of Madagascar, the land where evolution ran wild?

Cédric de Foucault, General Manager at Anjajavy l’Hôtel, explains his journey here, his visions of hope for the Indian Ocean island and his love for the Relais & Châteaux family.

“Ever since I can remember, I have been the nature lover of my family. When I was a kid I wanted to be a bush veterinarian, probably because of my early contact with Madagascar’s marvelous nature. My family has been in Madagascar for the past 120 years. I was a bit of an exception being born in Paris and raised near Versailles in France. At age 15, I followed my father back to Madagascar and was profoundly touched by the beauty of the country, the kindness in spite of the poverty of the people.”
“After my Baccalaureate, I left for elite classes in Paris, with the wish to come back one day. I did military service in the alpine troopers of Chamonix in the French Alps and Management Studies in Montreal, Canada.”
“Next, I returned home, to Madagascar. Lodge management was the best way for me to simultaneously help preserve the nature, develop the local villages and share the joys of the island with guests.”
“Years later, I met the owner of the first hotel group in Madagascar, Amirali Rajabali, and his son, Sameer. I knew right away that we would be embarking on a long road together. After managing four of their hotels on Sainte-Marie island, I was offered a position as Manager at Anjajavy l’Hôtel, by Dominique Prat, founder and owner of the hotel. I was enchanted and grabbed the opportunity. Eventually the Rajabali family acquired the hotel from Prat… and we reunited.”
“For me, Relais & Châteaux represents French hospitality at its best. It is a brilliant way to express your love for a destination. Since the lodge was far from any towns or roads, there were many challenges at first, such as transport, quality management, forest conservation and social development. But we acquired two Cessna Caravan airplanes to help us along.”
“In 2011, the BBC series, ‘Madagascar: The land where evolution ran wild,’ with David Attenborough, brought us much deserved exposure, as it showed off our beaches and baobab trees. Since then we have welcomed several celebrated nature enthusiasts, such as Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson, whose son, Sam proposed on one of our private inlets.”
“Anjajavy l’Hôtel has many ongoing projects on the peninsula – such as the replanting of millions of indigenous trees, increasing the reserve to cover 1 000 hectares, developing a research centre and building new social infrastructures for the villages, like a secondary school.”
“Because of an urgent need for resources, our dry deciduous forests are disappearing very fast. Seeing the happy villages of the peninsula, with wells, clinics, solar stations, the children going to school and an sustainable economic and social environment is not only blissful to behold, it is a necessity.”
“Anjajavy’s forests possess exceptional rare and endemic species. New animals and plants are regularly discovered here; the biodiversity is an exceptional treasure, and, for me, a keystone of the future of mankind.”
“We live in nature here. We care for the destiny of the wildlife of Madagascar and its people and want to share it with visitors.”
“Sometimes I imagine people gathered and praying around an ancient tree of a beautiful and endemic forest like the one we have here in Anjajavy and my heart beams with hope…”

Discover Cedric’s dream for Anjajavy l’Hôtel and Madagascar, the land where evolution ran wild, for yourself…

Top 10 Tips for a Memorable Safari

Camp Jabulani

We have often said that what distinguishes Camp Jabulani from other safari lodges is not the presence of the Big 5, nor the thousands of hectares of African wilderness that surround it in the Kapama Private Game Reserve. For us, what has and continues to make Camp Jabulani stand out is its compassion. You’ll find evidence of this compassion in their history – how they came to be – and in their conservation efforts to this day. You’ll discover it in the passion that owner, Lente Roode shares in her innkeeper video.

But, to make it all about you, the safarigoer, for a second, this compassion is evident in the camp’s care for their guests. It is vital to them that you have an indelible safari experience. To help this along, we gathered these top tips from Camp Jabulani Ranger, Ruan Reynek, a man who harboured a wealth of safari wisdom, a man who passed away too soon this month. In honour of Ruan, we bring you…

Top 10 Tips for a Memorable Safari

1. Look after yourself.
Wear sunblock and drink plenty of water. Do not underestimate the power of the African sun! You will not be able to enjoy your adventure if you’re suffering from sunstroke.

2. Bring along your binoculars.
Many of the interesting things on safari are not as obvious to the naked eye – such as colourful birds in their nests, or animals that are further away.

3. Make sure you wear the right clothing.
When participating on bush walks, consider wearing lightweight long pants so you are not exposed to ticks and sharp branches, and wear comfortable closed shoes. Dress in layers to ensure that you don’t get too hot or too cold, and always consider comfort first.

4. Pay attention.
Bring along a notebook if you are interested in learning about your surroundings. Rangers can teach you a lot of fascinating things about the animals, trees, birds, and even insects.

5. Try and be quiet when on a game drive.
You will pick up on a lot of things that you would otherwise miss, like the roar of a lion, the warning call from a baboon, or other animal sounds that could lead you to a great sighting. When at a sighting, keep as quiet as possible. Whistling/ calling to the animals will not bring them any closer, and may only serve to agitate them. This is also in consideration of others who may share your safari vehicle.

Camp Jabulani

Camp Jabulani

6. Bring along a camera.
Take as many pictures as possible, but don’t forget to also enjoy the moment. Being too obsessed with capturing photographs often means that you don’t make actual memories, and if something happens to those pictures, you will be left with nothing.

7. The best time for game viewing is in the early morning and mid-afternoon.
But also remember that the midday heat draws animals to waterholes, and this time can be a great one to see lots of animals together. The best months for game viewing are September/ October, when the grass is still dry and the bush is thinned out. Refer to point one above.

8. Use all of your senses.
You can get a lot more out of your safari experience if you not only look at your surroundings, but also listen to the beautiful sounds of the bushveld, touch nature such as leaves and bark when you are on a bushwalk, and inhale the distinctive and unique fragrances of the bush.

9. Keep calm and trust your ranger.
At a sighting on safari, remember that your ranger knows what they are doing, and will not put you in harm’s way.

10. Enjoy every moment.
It’s often the smaller, simpler moments that stay with us the longest.

Camp Jabulani

Tell us your great safari tips in the comments section below, whether from your travels to Camp Jabulani or elsewhere in Africa.