South Africa

The 7 years in which I lived in South Africa were not easy. For the longest time I honestly couldn’t get my head around the social expectations (and implications) of the apartheid categorisations and where I was seen to fit within it. But, for me, South Africa had the best range of food that I had up until that point experienced. I often loved what I ate and what foods were introduced to me there. I would even go so far as to say that this country nurtured the pleasure I now take from cooking and eating. The featured dishes present the median of answers to the favourite foods question. Enjoy!

“Bredie” is a word for stew in Cape vernacular. This slow-cooked, rich stew is an exquisite combination of flavours which work wonderfully together. It is by far and away one of the best dishes I have eaten yet.

Steamed bread is a partly moist, partly not kind of part bread/dumpling-feel dish. Though not exclusively South African, I’ve only eaten it in this context. It is a less weighty accompaniment to stews than pap. I had it with lamb bredie and it was excellent.

Isitambu (a.k.a Mngqusho in Xhosa) is usually eaten as an accompaniment to any lunch or dinner. This popular dish is very easily tweaked and adjusted to suit personal tastes and is therefore a highly variable dish. So, although most flavour it similarly, absolutely everyone makes it differently!
The common ingredients for each version are of course the samp and beans, both of which have to be cooked until they’re really soft. I’ve always only had a version of this without meat.
It’s definitely a comfort food.

Served either as a savoury snack to partner with sauces etc., or as a sweet treat, this “doughnut” is a well-known contribution to the South African kitchen. It’s actually more than just a South African thing – it has cousins/twins: it’s also known to some as puff puff, bofrot, vetkoek and many other names, some of which are eaten outside the continent too.

With its infinite variations, bobotjie is the ultimate “so-and-so-makes-it-best” dish. The uniformity in all these versions though, is in its homey quality. The dish – a bold flavour-assembly of ingredients – has its roots in the Western Cape’s slave history, and is likely derived from a combination of “leftovers.” I ate mine with yellow rice and it was absolutely delicious.