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6 Truly South African dishes to try this weekend

Us South Africans are known for our unique delicacies – which makes perfect sense because our beautiful country itself is a unique mixture various cultures and ethnicities. Each one of our dishes come from a different culture with a local twist! Take a look at our six favourite South African dishes that, if you haven’t already, should definitely try this weekend!


A smiley is a sheep’s head, unusually named for the fixed grin it has once it’s been cooked. This traditional Xhosa dish is a labour intensive meal as the sheep’s hairs are quite difficult to remove completely, and the skull also has to be chopped in half with an axe to remove the brain. The head is then boiled for at least two hours, resulting in soft, delicate slivers of meat that are removed and eaten by hand.


This stacked foot-long roll is definitely meant for sharing. And if you live in Cape Town and have never tried a Gatsby, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Be prepared to roll up your sleeves because there WILL be sauce dribble. It originated in the Cape Flats in the 1970’s as an economical meal, but today there are hundreds of variations. Most are filled with  slap tjips,  egg, sausage and a spicy sauce like atchar or peri-peri. More fancy varieties include steak while the everyday versions swop the sausage for polony. (Stick to sausage though, because you know, Listeriosis)


Considered a traditional Afrikaans dish,  skilpadjies (literally ‘little tortoises’) – minced lamb’s liver wrapped ina fatty membrane from the kidneys – were long ago prepared by the ancient Romans, and the recipe appeared in a German cookbook written in the mid-1300s.


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A distinctively Cape Malay dish, bobotie is derived from  bobotok,  an Indonesian recipe which arrived in the Cape along with the slaves of Dutch colonists from Batavia. It consists of minced lamb or beef, spiced with mild curry powder and turmeric, topped with an egg-and-milk layer and browned in the oven. YUM


Koesisters  are of Cape Malay origin, while  koeksisters  are inherited from the Dutch. Though both are deep-fried, oddly-shaped doughnuts that are saturated with syrup, they taste and look completely different. The Cape Malay version are rolled into balls and spiced with flavours like cinnamon, aniseed and ginger before being deep-fried, drizzled with syrup and rolled in coconut flakes. You can buy them for the small price of R3 at many corner cafés in the Bo-Kaap, but they’re pretty scarce in other areas. The Dutch version is braided before being fried and drenched in syrup. The more commonly known sweet treat.

Milk Tart

Milk Tart is such a huge part of the South African culture that 27 February has been declared National Milk Tart Day. The light, smooth, cinnamon-dusted tart is made with – yes – milk! The milk is usually cooked with sugar and eggs until it’s thick and custard-like, then poured into a shortcrust pastry shell. Always goes down well with a cup of Rooibos tea.

For more recipes click here!

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