If you’ve ever been to South Africa, you know how amazing the country’s food. The diverse and robust culinary landscape inspires me to try new things every day. So when I’m cooking at home, I often turn to my favorite dish from back home: biltong!
Biltong is a cured meat that can be made from beef, but also venison and ostrich. Traditionally, it is air dried for 3 days, then soaked in vinegar and spices. It’s traditionally eaten as a snack or with bread.
Biltong is popular throughout Africa because of its long shelf life–it can last up to six months if stored properly! This makes biltong ideal food for travelers who are on the go all day long while they’re exploring different parts of Africa (or even just your average person who wants something convenient).
Braai is a South African barbecue, but it’s much more than that. It’s a social event and way of life, as well as a cooking method and way of eating.
The word braai comes from the Dutch word “braden”, which means broil or roast. Braais were originally used by Dutch settlers in South Africa who brought along their traditions when they settled on the Cape Colony in 1652. As time went on, they integrated with local tribes (such as Xhosa) and adopted some customs from them such as cooking meat over an open fire rather than using stoves like Europeans did back home.
Cajeta is a caramel sauce made from goat’s milk. It has a sweet, rich flavor and can be used as a spread or drizzled over desserts. Cajeta is similar to dulce de leche (another popular Mexican dessert), except it has more of an earthy taste that comes from using goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. The process for making cajeta involves heating up the goat’s milk until it boils, then adding sugar and letting it simmer until you get your desired consistency–either thick enough to coat bread or thin enough to pour over ice cream!
Coconut Curry Stew
This recipe is a South African dish that is traditionally made with chicken and served with rice or pap. The coconut milk gives it a rich, creamy flavor that’s complemented by the curry powder. If you want to make this dish vegan, omit the chicken and substitute cooked chickpeas for beans.
Bobotie and Mieliepap
Bobotie is a traditional South African dish that’s made with beef, but can also be made with chicken or lamb. It’s traditionally baked in an oven and served with a spicy tomato sauce.
Mieliepap is another South African staple food that’s traditionally served for breakfast or dinner. Mieliepap is made from white cornmeal and milk, which makes it similar to grits in the United States–but much tastier!
I love food.
I love food. And I am not talking about the kind of love that makes you go on a diet, but the kind that makes you want to eat until your stomach hurts and then some more if there’s anything left over.
In Africa, food is an integral part of the culture and experience. It’s like everywhere else in the world except it feels like more people are eating together at meal times (and sometimes during). In fact, many Africans will tell you that they don’t get enough time to sit down with their families or friends because they’re too busy working or studying–but when they do get together for dinner? Watch out! It could last hours…and still not be enough!
I’m glad I took the time to explore my African roots and discover some of the amazing food that my ancestors used to eat. It has been a great experience, and I hope that you also get a chance to try some of these dishes yourself!