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A delicious South African sweet potato salad

By April 6, 2023December 27th, 2023FinGlobal

A delicious South African sweet potato salad

April 6, 2023


If it’s braai time, it’s ultimately slaai time! As every Saffa knows, no matter how much meat or braai-broodies you may have, a braai isn’t a braai without a lekker helping of sweet potato slaai. Furthermore, when it comes to the South African sweet potato salad it certainly has a plethora of recipes to choose from, which makes sense seeing as this root vegetable has been around since the early 1600s!

Originally from South America, the sun-loving sweet potato happily immigrated to our shores via Portuguese traders entering our ports. As luck would have it, our warm and temperate climate is ideal for growing this root vegetable, allowing it to be cultivated in vast quantities and quickly become one of Africa’s staple crops. As a result, the humble South African potato salad recipe had been enjoying a swift revamp, and so was born the plate-licking sweet potato salad that has continued to enjoy for the last few hundred years. You could say the sweet potato is part of our rainbow nation heritage!

Sweet potatoes vs. regular potatoes

It’s a common misconception that the regular potato (Irish potato) and the sweet potato are in some way related. Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While both are delectable in salads or drenched in butter and topped with cheese, each belongs to a very different plant genus!

Sweet potatoes or Ipomoea batatas belong to the morning glory family, the world’s largest genus of flowering plants. This plant produces the tuberous edible roots used to make the tasty sweet potato salad from South Africa. They also come in several colours, but the most common variety in South Africa is white. However, in other parts of the world, this tasty root vegetable can range from white to purple to orange.

In contrast, the common potato tuber (Solanum tuberosum) is part of the nightshade family. But don’t panic; your favourite spud isn’t as poisonous as it sounds! While all potatoes contain trace amounts of Solanine, the levels aren’t high enough to be toxic. Unless you happen to eat the leafy stalk of the potato plant or enjoy a green potato, you’re pretty safe! The common potato is also used to make the traditional South African potato salad recipe that braai masters are familiar with! Unfortunately, the common spud only comes in one colour, cream, and is quite bland when compared to the sweet and earthy flavours of the sweet potato.

Are sweet potatoes more nutritious than the spud?

The sweet potato far outstrips the regular potato in terms of micronutrients. For example, boiled sweet potatoes contain more key vitamins that act as antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C, than regular potatoes. These antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress, which has been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer!

In addition, the sweet potato has a lower GI (glycemic index) than the regular potato, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar and can help to manage your weight.

The best sweet potato salad recipe in South Africa

Who can say they don’t start to salivate at the thought of making a gorgeous creamy potato salad recipe South African style?

Of course, it must have lashings of mayonnaise, peach chutney, egg, mustard powder, and raisins, say the traditionalists! The Germans disagree and insist on a dash of sauerkraut to liven up the taste buds, while the French prefer a smidge of ‘may-yoe-nayz’! The truth is, we all have our preferred way of making sweet potato salad. While some prefer a simple South African potato salad recipe goes all out and, as usual, has a decadent take on things.

Roasted sweet potato salad South African style with chilli mayo and chorizo

Check out this tempting sweet potato salad recipe from South Africa batatas connoisseurs!

What you need

  • 3 large sweet potatoes sliced into thick wedges
  • ½ cup mayonnaise (preferred brand)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 smoked chorizo sliced (skin removed)
  • 2 tbsp chilli paste/chilli jam
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 2 cups watercress
  • Zest & juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

What to do

  • Line a large baking tray with baking paper and preheat your oven to 200 C.
  • Place the sweet potato wedges on the tray in a single layer, spaced evenly apart. Season with salt and pepper, and roast for approximately 25 minutes. The sweet potato is cooked when each wedge is tender and slightly caramelised on its edges.
  • Next, cook the chorizo slices in a non-stick skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until crispy.
  • You will need a food processor for this next step because it’s time to whizz up the chilli mayonnaise! Place the mayonnaise, lime juice, zest, chilli paste, or chilli jam (if using) into the food processor and blitz for a few seconds. Remember to add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  • Then, arrange the roasted sweet potato wedges on a large serving platter and scatter pumpkin seeds and crispy chorizo slices over the top. Finally, sprinkle the salad with fresh coriander and watercress and drizzle with lashings of chilli mayonnaise when ready to serve.

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