Through our food services, we’re always encouraging families to get creative and try new recipes that promote healthy eating or inspire them to try new ingredients and recipes. Here FOOD Club Assistant Megan shares her favourite dishes from her home country of South Africa, along with explaining what she loves most about it.
For many of us, going home not only means spending time with friends and family – it also means indulging in home-cooked family or traditional meals. For me this is especially true, and I always look forward to enjoying my favourite South African meals when I travel back to my home country to visit my family.
South Africa (sometimes known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’) is an extremely culturally diverse country, and this is expressed through the variety of traditional foods available. To me, when I think of South African food, I think of a braai (an open wood-fire BBQ) with mielies/mealies (corn), boerewors (traditional sausage, presented in a coil), garlic bread (cooked wrapped in tinfoil on the braai) and malva pudding.
I also think of local Cape Malay-style curries (like butter chicken) or rotis with curried mince and banana. Others might think of Samp and Beans (a maize-meal porridge with a tomato and bean relish), or Babotie – a curried mince dish flavoured with turmeric, topped with egg and milk, baked in the oven.
While visiting, I was also fortunate enough to enjoy some of my favourite desserts and snacks. Most mornings, I drank my cup of coffee alongside a muesli or buttermilk rusk – this is one which often raises an eyebrow among my friends in the UK. Although it is a bit like the hard, dry rusk eaten by teething children here, this is different, and it’s a treat I would be sad to give up as I aged!. My sister and I also baked Malva pudding, while we reminisced about our childhood and debated about whether a store-bought version could ever compare.
A Potijie (pronounced ‘poy-key’, which is short for ‘potjiekos’ and directly translates to ‘little pot of food’), is another popular meal. This is a REALLY time-consuming meal to prepare, as it requires a few hours of slow cooking over a fire before it is ready. A potjie’s flavour and ingredients can vary depending on the cook but it’s typically made up of lamb, a mix of vegetables (marrow, mushrooms, onion etc.) and spices such as coriander, garlic, cumin, paprika, rosemary, and salt and pepper.
I think it’s impossible to make a broad statement about South African food as there are so many different types of cultural delicacies, but I think that what makes the food there special is that it’s all made with love and people take their time. I find it amazing that certain tastes and smells have the power to transport you back to a time and place and I hope that, armed with a collection of family favourite recipes, I will be able to carry on the tradition in some way and share the flavours and memories of my childhood with friends and family the UK – my “other” home.