7 South African Dishes You’d Want To Be A Traveller For


Having just celebrated Heritage Day, our minds are still focused on so many elements of the rich cultural heritage that characterises South Africa.

One feature is our food. Food has historically been a catalyst for human connection, bringing people together through the universal language of taste and flavour.

And South Africa’s culinary heritage is an incredible story of different cultures that stepped onto our shores, bringing their own gastronomic traditions with them – and creating new, blended ones in the Bowl Of Africa.

To fully experience the breadth of SA’s culinary heritage, travel search website Cheapflights.co.za recommends enjoying the traditional dishes in the places they were originally created. So, take a  culinary journey around the country and make sure you visit the places listed below.


Chakalaka is a spicy stewed vegetable relish most often made from a combination of tomatoes, carrots, peas and/or peppers – with a lot of spices! Often served over mielie pap (maize meal porridge) – the starch accompaniment to a meal – different varieties of chakalaka now add zing to a broad selection of meats and dishes.

Where to try this dish: Although this tangy side dish can be found throughout the country – even in jars or cans in supermarkets – it is most popular in the north of the country.

You’ll find it on the menu in any of the popular food outlets in Johannesburg’s townships. A visit to Soweto, for instance, will allow you to immerse yourself in some of the country’s most important recent history – and to enjoy the traditional township fare.

Average return economy flight price to Johannesburg in spring: R2 200


This dish is a blend of maize kernels and sugar beans that are cooked over a long period of time until soft, and is a delicious starch component of a meal.

It was actually SA’s beloved Nelson Mandela’s favourite dish – so when enjoying umngqusho with shisa nyama (meat braaied over an open fire), you can feel even closer to SA’s history.

Where to try this dish: You’ll find this hearty dish at many restaurants that serve traditional African food. Try it at one of the many African food destinations in Pretoria or at Marco’s Place or The Africa Cafe in Cape Town.

Average return economy flight price to Pretoria in spring: R2 300

Shisa Nyama

This braai concept originated in the townships of SA, when butcheries tried to increase their sales over weekends by selling meat, then braaing it on-site for their customers.

Shisa Nyama – Zulu slang for “buy and braai” – took off, and has grown to become a community experience where diners come not only to choose and have their meat braaied, but to enjoy local music, socialise, and even use the venue as a vibey remote working spot.

Where to try this dish: Try it out at Moja’s Cafe in Soweto, or in Bloemfontein at Chesa Nyama Lemo Mall.

Average return economy flight price to Bloemfontein in spring: R2 800

Bunny chow

This dish, which is basically a delicious curry filling stuffed into a hollowed-out portion of a loaf of bread, was actually designed in the 1940s as a means for the Indian labourers to carry their meals for the day, as the traditional roti wasn’t able to do so.

The concept spread like spicy wildfire, and today bunny chow is enjoyed as a hearty and very filling meal across SA, but particularly in Durban.

Where to try this dish: Cross the country to its east coast, and you’ll find the culinary crown jewel of Durban: bunny chow. It’s well worth the journey to Durban to enjoy an authentic bunny chow in the place where it originated.

Average return economy flight price to Durban in spring: R2 000


Melktert is a baked tart made from milk and eggs, infused with cinnamon and almonds, and baked in a delicious crust. It is similar to the Portuguese custard tart, but with a more milky flavour due to the higher ratio of milk to eggs.

Being a great favourite means that fans have established a dedicated day in February every year to focus on this sweet cake. Try to bake your own in celebration of this unique pastry – or pop into Ouma se Kombuis in Paarl in the Western Cape.

Known by locals for the quality melktert available to buy, you’re well advised to order in advance to avoid disappointment!

And, while you’re in this historic and beautiful country town, spend the day meandering along its main road, the longest in the country; and enjoy wine-tasting when visiting one of the many scenic wine farms in the area.

Where to try this dish: You’ll find melktert at most home baking stores anywhere in the country but definitely consider trying the one from Ouma se Kombuis in Paarl.

Average return economy flight price to Cape Town this spring: R2 800


For many, this mildly spiced dish could be considered South Africa’s national dish. The core ingredient is minced meat, and it is topped with a creamy egg custard. It’s served with yellow rice and sambals.

Where to try this dish: This and the next dish are particularly popular in an area of Cape Town called the Bo Kaap, a quaint suburb which is home to the Cape Malay community.

Average return economy flight price to Cape Town this spring: R2 800

Tomato bredie

This tomato and meat stew was brought to SA by the Malay people. It is usually made of mutton but beef can also be used.

Where to try this dish: Bo Kaap Kitchen or Biesmiellah Restaurant in the Bo Kaap area of Cape Town.

Average return economy flight price to Cape Town this spring : R2 800



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