Known for its many traditions and fabulous rainbow nation, South Africa is no stranger to the weird and wonderful. The many cultures that live on South African soil have shared and fused their colourful backgrounds and superbly unique traditions into the amazing technicolour culture many people enjoy today. That said, when cultures and traditions fuse, so do their cooking pots! While the saying may go, ‘too many cooks in the kitchen, spoil the broth,’ this isn’t true for South African food. In our case, the saying should be, ‘so many cooks in the kitchen, let’s turn that broth into a veritable feast!’
As South Africans, we certainly know the meaning of weird. Ours is the land of biltong, droëwors, and skilpadjies. While these South African recipes are delicious to us savvy locals, they can prove to be a little outlandish to our friends across the ocean.
Let’s take a look at thirteen weird South African foods you can use to pep up the mid-week family menu! Forget dull bangers and mash Mondays or left-over Thursdays enter traditional South African food with a weird but tasty twist.
South African food
Weird traditional dishes
Give you Mondays more zap, wrap lamb’s liver in caul fat and place it on the braai. Once cooked, serve with Mealie pap or toast.
Pronounced Off-fal, this dish is made from the stomach lining and trotters of lamb. The ingredients are either stewed or curried and served on a bed of rice. Tasty indeed!
- Beef tongue
Say goodbye to boring school sandwiches. Boiled beef tongue is excellent served cold on thick chunks of bread with lashings of mustard sauce.
Banish the mid-week, ‘I don’t know what to cook’ blues with a handful of caterpillars boiled in garlic and tomato sauce. Or fry them till golden and crispy and serve with a creamy dip.
- Ostrich egg omelette
This colossal bird’s egg is the equivalent of twelve hen eggs. Make a hole in the shell, drain the contents and whip up one massive omelet for everyone. Then, add lashings of butter, salt, pepper, and a dash of parsley for the perfect Saturday brunch!
- Bokkoms (dried fish)
Air-dried, salted mullet fish, this tasty delicacy can also be smoked. When eating, peel the skin off and enjoy a delicious fishy snack. Friday night, bokkoms, nuts, and crisps washed down with a cold beer are on the menu!
If you can’t find a sandwich at the deli counter, head out into the garden and find the nearest tree. Termites are full of protein and taste just like carrots! So that’s your low-carb diet sorted!
- Skaapkop (Sheep head)
While it may sound like the extreme Sunday lunch, lambs head is actually quite tasty. The whole head, including brains and eyes, is baked for hours and finally served up on a bed of parsley.
- Biltong and Droewors
South Africa is famous for its love of dried meat, otherwise called biltong. Meat is salted and dried then eaten in slices as a snack. Droewors or ‘dry sausage’ is spiced meat that is put into sausage casings and dried. This is also consumed as a snack. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘air fryer!’ and both are much healthier than chips or sweets.
Fermented milk is very popular in South Africa. Its unique flavour and texture can be enjoyed on porridge (krummelpap) or simply as a healthy drink. Note this is not sour milk.
Not for the faint-hearted but just as tasty if you are looking to satisfy your cinnamon-flavour cravings. Although they smell horrible, they are an extremely nutritious snack, high in amino acids and vitamin B. Simply remove their heads, squeeze out the juices, then cook and allow to dry in the sun. Yum!
- Kaiings (cracklings)
These are not the standard pork crackling you can find next to the cider in most shops overseas, but rather the internal fat of sheep or beef that has been fried until crispy. So, forget chomping on kaiings while drinking a beer. Instead, serve them up with maize porridge or baked bread rolls.
- Walky talky
This dish contains the heads and feet of chicken, covered in batter and deep-fried. This delicacy is a favourite amongst many locals. If heads are off the menu, simply boil the feet to remove the skin, add lashings of spice and cook until tender and there you have the perfect chicken feet recipe. Wednesday dinner sorted!
For unseasoned visitors, it may be hard to believe that these wacky meals exist. Take it from a local; they do! If you ever find yourself under the hot African sun with no idea what to cook for dinner, try one of these weird dishes. Your taste buds are in for a treat!
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