Plenty of things bring us together as a nation and food will always be at the top of the list. Food allows us to share our culture and heritage while keeping hunger at bay. South African foods are as rich in flavour, texture and aroma as our nation itself. With 11 official languages and influences as far afield as Malaysia and Europe, South African cuisine is certainly not short on variety.
If we had to limit them to a handful, we’d go with those that make us most proud; the intense homegrown taste and colour we grew up with and which simply feel like home. Here are our fabulous four:
1. Hearty, soft tripe
2. Nourishing morogo
3. Delectable ditlhakwana
4. Bold and spicy bobotie
Hearty, Soft Tripe
Popularly known as usu or mogodu, it’s easy to see why this South African food is a much-loved favourite. Tripe, the edible lining of a cow’s stomach, has a unique mild flavour and a soft, fine texture when cooked. It’s also a good source of vitamin B-12, which is important for healthy blood and nerve cells.
Tripe takes around two hours to prepare but it’s certainly worth the wait. If you’d like to try a great no-fuss tripe recipe, this Traditional Usu is ideal. But if you want something with a bit more spice next time you have umcimbi, try out this Spicy Tripe Curry recipe. Served with samp or dombolo, there won’t be a soul at the table questioning your local roots.
Morogo is the perfect side for any traditional meal. Also known as wild or African spinach, it is tasty, nutritious and has a flavour that’s slightly sweet. Morogo refers to a minimum of three dark green leafy vegetables found in Southern Africa, rich in vitamins and nutrients.
Pair morogo with this Ox Liver and Pap recipe made with soya mince. Not only is this saucy dish cost effective and bursting with flavour, but the addition of iron-rich ox or sheep liver gives your loved ones the nourishing boost their bodies need to thrive.
Cow heels, also known as trotters or amanqina, are popular in many African homes, even though they don’t contain any meat or muscle. This simple meal has incredible health benefits – high in protein, rich in gelatin, nutrients, minerals and amino acids - and have become mainstream from London to New York as part of the growing nose-to-toes food movement which promotes the eating of the whole animal, discouraging food waste.
Ditlhakwana mainly consist of skin and cartilage, but if cooked properly, they taste and look amazing. If you want to give this delectable South African dish a try at home, follow our step-by-step guide to cooking cow heels. They go well with pap and soup. And a Knorrox Beef Stock Cube instantly makes the sauce thicker and tastier!
Bold And Spicy Bobotie
With a strong Malaysian influence, bobotie is a unique dish of beef mince, spiced with curry powder, and baked with an egg-based topping. The mince is typically infused with sweetness – variations include raisins, apricot jam and hot chutney – and can also include other herbs and spices like ginger, cumin and paprika. There are versions with almonds and even lemon juice and apple, but if you want to stick to the original, you won’t go wrong with this traditional Bobotie recipe.
Try out one of these amazing recipes this week and bring back special memories of childhood. If you find yourself craving more local cuisine, check out these traditional South African food recipes.