Africa is a place of ledged, home of the Big Five and a land of the most awe inspiring beauty. Africa is built from tradition and tales of the bush, tribal living and fused in some areas with a taste of western influence. Southern African food and cooking is often warmly referred to as ‘rainbow cuisine”. Southern African food is a fusion inspired by many cultures combining the indigenous African and European with Asian flare.
Africa is a colourful continent made up of diverse cultures and food combinations.
Traditionally and historically the most important and indispensable elements of the Southern African diet would undoubtedly be grains, meat and milk. In the Southern African region cattle are considered to be one of the most important possessions considered a blessing and a gift of respect in many tribal traditions. When a man marries he presents his in laws with lobola, a dowry of cattle and livestock in exchange for his bride.
Once married, a man is traditionally expected to provide his wife and children with a steady supply of milk and meat from cattle, sheep and goats. With no refrigeration milk would be soured and turned into a traditional yogurt. Working men of the family who would herd and milk livestock at cattle posts long distances from their villages would send yogurt home as gifts and for food on behalf of their fathers
Local, tribal and authentic African food is fused with an awesome range of cuisine inspired by the French, British, Malay, Dutch, Portuguese and the German who settled across the continent. Each corner of the continent from South to North, East to West and central to the horn of Africa, the cradle of human kind offers an array of absolutely tantalising taste sensations.
Traditional beer was is an infamous aspect of the Southern African liquid diet with the fermentation added additional nutrients. Traditionally it is considered customary for any family to have beer on offer for visitors and guests to indulge and enjoy. The women in the village brew the beer, and in pre-colonial Southern Africa and status of a wife would depend significantly on her ability to brew the best beer.
Cuisine of Africa: Out of South Africa
Today with the growth of African industry and economy together with massive western influence, South African beer is in demand and loved worldwide reaching every corner of the globe. Merged with a strong German influence in parts of the country there is a real appreciation for beer across cultures.
Southern African’s have passionate love of barbecue, which generally called having a “braai” being how you would say it in the local language of Afrikaans, a close second to Dutch. Combined with their absolute love for Ruby, beer and braai goes hand in hand with the kick and tackle winter sport. While another German inspired Afrikaans invention, Boerwors, a local spiced and truly tasty sausage accompanies almost any braai.
In three-legged cast-iron pots, cooked over coals is a traditional Afrikaner stew made with meat and vegetables. Potjiekos is a much love and long-time favourite of the South African people adopted by the tribal nations and the visitors of this amazing country taking its delicious secret across borders and home.
Other awesome traditional South African cuisine would include roast kudu fillet, a lamb on the spit, sosaties which are marinated and grilled meat kebabs traditionally with apricots, a local dish of fish and rice called Cape Kedgeree, a delicious coconut pie served as desert called Klappertert, a baked Cape Malay beef curry dish known as Bobotie and preserved dried meat called Biltong which is a food from Africa in demand worldwide.
Cuisine of Africa: Out of Botswana
Cuisine in Botswana has massive influence from the Italians to the Chinese while the Afrikaans community, stemming from neighbouring South Africa, introduced Vetkoek to Botswana. Vetkoek is a deep fried dough, which is cut in half and filled with a curried mince. Having a braai is as popular in Botswana as it is in South Africa although South African’s coined the term.
Praised throughout Southern Africa traditional Botswana food is a staple of fresh fish, mutton and chicken with beef widely consumed around country. One of the strongest economies in Africa, Botswana has acquired a love for good food and meat dishes are preferred. The main dishes for the lower income bracket in Botswana have a base made up of millet and sorghum porridge. Dried bean leaves, peanuts and nuts are eaten on a large scale in Botswana.
Botswana has a beautiful tradition where meat dishes are prepared with absolute much care. Food from Africa and traditional dishes are based on meat and maize, Botswana’s national dish is no exception to the rule. Seswaa is made with beef or goat, onions and peppers into a stew. Served over thick polenta or maize meal, widely known throughout Africa as pap, and a spinach-like leafy green called Morogo. Seswaa is a national dish for special occasions. Adding anything else is considered an infringement.
Some of the unique local vegetarian dishes out of Botswana include what is called Morama, a tuber found in the underground that is an edible fungus. The mopane worm is prepared by cooking them on hot ashes or deep frying them, they are set in sugar to make sweets.
Cuisine of Africa: Out of Namibia
Namibia, previously known as South West Africa, borders South Africa with Botswana and Zimbabwe to the east, Zambia in the north and Angola down South. The Republic of Namibia is situated south of the Equator along the South Atlantic coast of Africa. The Namib Desert is the oldest desert in the world spanning the entire west coast of the country. The Kalahari Desert runs along the countries southern border of Botswana.
Namibian cuisine of meat or fish stews are deeply rooted in French and German tradition using elements borrowed from neighbours and from their own traditional recipes with a variety of biltong, smoked hams, Landjäger and schnitzels. Outdoor cooking is a part of the Namibian way of life with the traditional braaivleis and Potjiekos when hanging out or celebrating.
With the ocean running alongside this incredible country fish is an important part of Namibian cuisine. Pasta, maize, couscous, rice and veggies are base ingredients for many of the local dishes along with a range of beef, lamb, pork, poultry, game, goat, rabbit, frogs and bush rats.
The most common meat type used in this southern African countries cuisine is fish and Chicken. Maize, like much food from Africa, is used breads which served with shellfish and tomato-based sauces. A beans and rice dish is a popular choice served as an appetizer in some areas. Oranges, bananas, mandarins, pineapples, kiwi fruit, avos and peanuts are widely grown, sold, and consumed across cultures throughout the country.
Cuisine of Africa: Out of Mozambique
Mozambique is famous for its fantastic seafood such as crayfish, prawns, tuna, mussels, oysters, calamari, mackerel, and lobster. Portuguese wines are plentiful and local cuisine includes a range of meat hot stews including lamb, venison, grains, avocados and vegetables, cornmeal, millet, rice. The Portuguese influence, particularly with the use of wine and spices is clear both in traditional dishes and those served in westernised restaurants. Matata is clams with finely chopped peanuts cooked in port, a sweet wine, tender greens and fruits.
Chicken is another popular Portuguese inspired choice in Mozambique. Heavily rubbed down with Peri peri and roasted over charcoal is a local favourite called Frango a Calrial which means “Chicken, the African way” then there’s “Chicken, the Portuguese way,” made with tomatoes and wine. Diversity in Mozambique’s African cuisine can be seen in curries called Caril served with delicious eastern chutney known as Manga Achar while Cape Verde, Angola and Sao Tome grow and roast some of the world’s finest coffee beans while d tea from the Zambezia region is globally renowned for its quality.
Popular Mozambican Cuisine would include string bean soup called Sopa De Feijao Verde, a Mozambican bean stew called Feijoada Moçambicana and fresh pineapple in port called Ananas con Vinho Do Porto. Desserts are prepared from a variety of fruit like mangoes, bananas, papayas, oranges, peaches and apricots. Western puddings are included in the local cuisine including delicious additions such as the Portuguese inspired Cocada Amarela.
Author: Jacqueline Freer