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The traditional South African 7 colours dish: A taste of culture and history

By December 14, 2023FinGlobal

The traditional South African 7 colours dish: A taste of culture and history

December 14, 2023


The cultural diversity of South Africa is reflected not only in its people, but also in its cuisine. One dish that perfectly embodies this diversity is the traditional 7 colours meal, also known as a “7 colour Sunday lunch”. This iconic meal has been enjoyed by families for generations and holds a special place in the hearts of South Africans.

The Origins of 7 Colours Meal

In many South African households, the term “seven colours” has become popular as a nickname for the meals served to guests and family members during Sunday gatherings and special occasions. This tradition involves a plate filled with a variety of colourful dishes, such as red beetroot, yellow rice, multicolored vegetables, and brown meat. It is a delicious and nutritious experience that embodies the values of wholesomeness, soul food, home, community, and togetherness.

Apart from being a visual delight, the 7 colours meal is also highly nutritious. By incorporating an array of colourful vegetables and proteins, this dish provides a balanced diet for individuals of all ages. Furthermore, it reflects the diversity and richness of South African cuisine that is rooted in traditional food practices and ingredients.

The 7 Colours Plate

The 7 Colours Plate, as the name implies, is a meal that consists of seven different dishes, each representing a unique colour. The specific components of the meal can vary depending on regional and family traditions. Here are some suggestions for dishes based on their respective colors:

  • For a white dish, you can consider pairing rice with chicken or beef.
  • To create a red dish, beetroot or a bean salad could be excellent choices.
  • For a yellow dish, you may want to include butternut or pumpkin.
  • When it comes to a green dish, creamed spinach is a delightful option.
  • To make an orange dish, carrots or sweet potatoes can add a vibrant touch.
  • If you’re aiming for a purple dish, eggplant or purple cabbage can bring rich hues.
  • To create a delectable brown dish, simmer it in a luscious, flavourful gravy.

Remember, the 7 Colours dish is a versatile and customisable meal that allows you to showcase a variety of colours and flavours on your plate.

How to Prepare a 7 Colours Meal

Creating a 7 Colours meal requires time, effort, and love. It is not only about preparing a delicious meal but also an opportunity to come together as a family and celebrate the bonds that tie us together. Here are some tips to help you prepare this iconic meal:

  1. Plan ahead: Begin by planning your menu and deciding on the dishes you want to include based on their colours.
  2. Prepare all the ingredients beforehand, including chopping vegetables, soaking beans, and marinating meats.
  3. To save time, cook some of the dishes simultaneously. For instance, while your rice is simmering, prepare your vegetables.
  4. Embrace variety: The beauty of a 7 colours meal is that you can mix and match the dishes according to your preference or dietary restrictions. Don’t be afraid to experiment and add your own personal touch to the meal.
  5. Serve with love: Finally, assemble all the dishes on a large platter or individual plates. As this is a communal meal, take the time to serve each dish with care and intention, making sure everyone gets a taste of every colour.


The 7 colours meal is more than just a dish; it is a representation of South Africa’s diversity and culinary heritage. By coming together to share in this meal, we can celebrate our differences and embrace our shared love for food. So next time you are in South Africa, be sure to try this iconic dish and experience the taste of culture and history on your plate!

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