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South African Recipes


The cooking of South Africa, often called "rainbow cuisine," is a mixture of indigenous African dishes, the cooking of Dutch and English settlers and the well spiced foods of Malays, Indians and Indonesians who were brought to South Africa as slaves and servants in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Using these tasty South African recipes, you can use the kitchen as part of your children’s learning experiences as they live in and learn about South Africa. These South African recipes are also just great food for company and comfort times.

Oxtail Potjie recipe

A Potjie Kos is a meal cooked in an iron pot over the fire. The way to cook a potjie is usually very slow. Many types of meat can be used for a potjie but here we have chosen one of the favorites - oxtail.


2 large oxtails, cut into joints
1/3 cup cooking oil
2 large onions, sliced into fairly thick rounds
6 bay leaves
4 chopped cloves of garlic
4 large carrots, scraped and cut into chunky wheels
the juice of one lemon
6 cloves
a good grind of black pepper
a dash of Worcester sauce
6 potatoes, peeled and halved
1/3 cup of brandy
water to cover

Instructions on how to make it

Heat the oil in the potjie, then brown the meat quickly over high heat with the onion. Add bay leaves, garlic, cloves, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and carrots. Add enough water barely to cover.

Let it simmer away very slowly for four hours, then add the potatoes and the brandy and let it simmer until the potatoes are done and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

Serve with rice, crispy fresh bread and green salad.


Boerewors recipe

Boerewors or Farmers Sausage is a traditional BBQ sausage. There are many secret recipes on how to make boerewors but here we provide you with the traditional recipe.


2 kg of chuck beef (fat and gristle removed)
750 de-boned thick rib of pork
200 g of pork fat (spek)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons salt
a good pinch of nutmeg
½ cup vinegar
About 90g of pork casings (ask your butcher for some or ask him where you can buy it)

Instructions on how to make it

Cut the meat and spek into small cubes. Sprinkle the seasoning over the meat (not the vinegar Penny), mix well and then mince together. Add the vinegar and mix lightly, but thoroughly. Stuff into casing and refrigerate for 24 hours in a covered, non-metal container.

(Optional: You can experiment by adding additional ingredients. For a lovely curry flavour add a tablespoon of curry powder to the above recipe. For a great garlic flavour add finely crushed and chopped garlic and for a sharper taste add more vinegar).

Do not overcook sausage. About 12-15 minutes over slow coals should do well. Serve with other BBQ dishes like Mealie Bread.



Bobotie recipe

The origins of Bobotie can be traced back to the eastern influence on South African culture. The Cape Malay society are famous for cooking this dish and it is usually served with yellow rice.


1 kg minced lamb
125ml milk
1 thick slice of white bread, crust removed and soaked in milk
2 roughly chopped onions butter
1 tablespoon of curry powder (mix the hot and the Cape Malay versions for a good flavour)
1 chili, finely chopped (optional and only if you like your food quite hot)
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of chutney
8 -10 crushed almonds (optional)
3 eggs
1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
6 bay leaves
1 orange, sliced in wheels
1 lemon, sliced in wheels
Oil for cooking

Instructions on how to make it

Heat the oil in frying pan and add the garlic, onion and curry power. Cook over medium heat for three minutes, then add the mince meat. Fry until the meat is almost done, then using your hands, squeeze the milk from the bread. Discard the milk and add the bread, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and chutney to the mince. Fry for a minute or so and then remove from heat.
Take a pie dish and place three bay leaves, two wheels of orange and two wheels of lemon at the bottom. Now scoop the mince mixture into the dish. Decorate the sides of the dish with the rest of the lemon and orange wheels, wedging them between the mince and the sides of the dish so that only a third protrudes. If you are using almonds, push them into the mince. Beat the eggs and 125ml milk, and pour over the meat. Put three bay leaves on top of dish. Place the dish uncovered in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes at 160 deg Celsius.

Serve with a plain green salad or chopped tomato and onion, sprinkled with a little vinegar. Make sure you have some chutney near at hand. Serve piping hot with the yellow rice.


Chicken Curry Potjie recipe

Chicken Curry Potjie (pot) is a great way to be able to entertain and still enjoy a great meal by simply adding all the ingredients into a huge pot over the fire place and leaving to simmer.


2kg skinless chicken thighs or breasts
3 large grated onions
5 skinless tomatoes
1 large tin tomato paste
4 heaped teaspoons masala
3 bay leaves
2 dessert spoons crushed garlic
1 table spoon coriander
1 teaspoon fennel
2 large sticks cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 litre red wine
6 Large potatoes cut in half

Instructions on how to make it

Sauté your onions and garlic until soft, then add the spices and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato paste together with some red wine – simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add chicken pieces and potatoes with a little more wine. Place the lid on your potjie, simmer on a low heat for about 45 minutes, checking the liquid level regularly, adding more red wine when needed. About 15 minutes before you are ready to eat add sugar to taste.

Serve on a bed of rice, cooked together with mustard seeds, turmeric and onion flakes for added flavor.



Koeksisters recipe

The sweet taste of these plaited dough cakes makes them a great favorite in South Africa. The secret of their success, is in preparing the syrup a day ahead and chilling it before dipping the koeksisters.


For the syrup:
1kg sugar
500ml (2 cups) water
2 pieces fresh green ginger (each 5cm), peeled and crushed
2ml (½ teaspoon) cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
Grated rind and juice of ½ lemon

For the dough:
500g flour
2ml (½ teaspoon) salt
30ml (2 tablespoons) baking powder
55g butter, grated
1 egg
250-375ml (1-1½ cups) milk or water

Instructions on how to make it

To make the syrup, put all the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat (stirring) until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cover the mixture and boil for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan lid and boil the syrup for a further 5 minutes, but do not stir it. Remove the syrup from the stove and allow it to cool for at least 2 hours in a refrigerator, or overnight.

To make the dough, sieve together the dry ingredients and rub in the grated butter with your fingertips, or cut it in with a pastry cutter. Beat the egg, add 250ml (1 cup) of the milk or water and mix lightly with the dry ingredients to a soft dough. Add more milk or water if the dough is too stiff. Knead well until small bubbles form under the surface of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to stand for 30 minutes –1 hour.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1 cm, then form koeksisters in either of the following ways:
Cut strips 1 cm wide and twist 2 strips together, or plait 3 strips together, cutting the twisted, or plaited lengths at 8cm intervals and pinching the ends together.

Alternatively, cut the dough into 8cm x 4cm pieces. Cut 2 vertical slits in each piece, reaching to 1cm from the end. Plait the 3 strips that have been formed and pinch together the loose ends.

Heat 7-8cm deep oil to 180-190°C – a cube of bread should turn golden-brown in a minute. Fry the koeksisters for 1-2 minutes, or until golden-brown, then turn them over with a fork and fry until golden-brown on the other side.

Remove the koeksisters with a lifter or slotted spoon, drain them for a moment on paper towel and then plunge them into the cold syrup for 1-2 minutes. Stand the container of syrup in a bowel of ice so that the syrup will stay cold. Remove the koeksisters from the syrup with a lifter or slotted spoon, allowing the excess syrup to flow back into the basin, then drain them slightly on a wire rack.



Vetkoek recipe

The English have Yorkshire Pudding and the South Africans have Vetkoek! Fill it with mincemeat, cheese or any thing else that comes to hand.


250ml (1cup) cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
125 milk
125 ml oil for frying

Instructions on how to make it

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. beat egg separately and add to flour. Add milk and mix until smooth heat oil in frying pan and drop a tablespoon of the mixture into oil.

Don't make more than four at a time.

Fry for two to three minutes on one side, then turn and fry for one minute on other side. Serve hot.


Yellow Rice recipe

Yellow rice is eaten with the Cape Malay dish called Bobotie.


2 cups of rice
¾ cup raisins, soaked in water for 20 minutes, then drained
1 teaspoon of turmeric
a dash of salt
2 sticks of cinnamon

Instructions on how to make it

Place all the ingredients, including the raisins in about 750ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. If there is still excess water in the pot when the rice is tender, pour it out carefully.
Dot the rice with a few blobs of butter and give it a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar (come on Penny, a little sugar and a little cinnamon powder, mixed together).

Cover and keep warm.



Mealie or Sweatcorn bread recipe

This is also known as Sweetcorn bread and goes down a treat at any BBQ or as they call it in South Africa - a Braai.


2 cups biscuit mix
1 cup creamed sweetcorn
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup whole milk
2 ounces butter, melted

Instructions on how to make it

In a large bowl, place the biscuit mix, creamed corn, and sugar. Add the egg and milk, and stir just until combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9" baking pan. Place the mealie mixture into the pan, and coat with the melted butter.

Bake for 20 minutes.



Mild lamb curry potjie recipe

Lamb curry potjie is a real favourite of mine, particulary easy to do in the winter time and when you want to entertain large crowds without having to spend hours in the kitchen. The recipe serves six. Thank you from the RainbowNation team for posting this recipe on the forum for all to share.


750g x 2 cubed lamb ( you can use half beef and half lamb, but it is nicer if you use only lamb)
4-5 sweet potatoes peeled and cut in large chunks
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon chillie jam
2 teaspoons garam masala
1cm ginger peeled and grated
6 garlic cloves crushed
2 bay leaves
1/4 ground turmeric
1 tablespoon oil
2 onions chopped
800g tin peeled tomatoes

Instructions on how to make it

Liquidize the tin peeled tomatoes in the food processor. Fry the onions in the oil remove the onions. Use the same pot to dry fry the herbs and spices for a moment. Add the onions and the liquidized tomatoes. Add the meat bring to boil. Cook for 1 hour on the stove top with the lid on the pot. If to dry you can add half a cup of water. Add sweet potatoes cook for another hour or till sweet potatoes are tender. The sweet potato thickens the sauce. Eat and enjoy. The mild curry freezes well.



Hot Rice Salad recipe

There are many variations to the way rice is prepared and served in South Africa. This variation can be served with almost any meat dish.


400g rice (2 c)
875 ml boiling water (3½ c)
2 chicken stock cubes
3 onions
1 clove garlic
1 medium green pepper
30 ml sunflower oil (2 T)
250 g mushrooms
250 g bacon
1 large tomato
5 ml salt (1 t)
pinch of black pepper

Instructions on how to make it

Cook the rice in the boiling water to which the chicken stock cubes have been added, until it is soft but not mushy. Peel the onions and garlic and chop and cut into strips. Braise these vegetables in the sunflower oil until soft.

Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth. Cut up the mushrooms and bacon. Peel the tomato and chop roughly. Add the mushrooms, bacon and tomato to the onion mixture and braise till just done. Season with the salt and black pepper. Mix the vegetable mixture and the rice lightly together with a large fork. Serve the rice salad hot.

Makes about 16 servings.




Biltong is South African dried meat, a delicacy a bit similar to "beef jerky". Here are three different recipes:



BILTONG - Recipe 1


What you need:

  • an electric fan
  • a light
  • 1 kg meat - many different meats can be used. If you do not have access to ostrich or game etc then try a cut of beef like eye of the round or flank.
  • some vinegar
  • less than a table spoon of course salt (or Kosher salt)
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of coriander (whole)(get it at a bulk food store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • string

You also need a good knife, fridge, electricity, scissors, a couple of bowls, some nails or hooks, a hammer and someone to make fun of you for trying to maintain your South African heritage. A couple other ingredients that I have never used but you may wish to use include bicarbonate of soda (apparently to prevent mould setting in) and saltpetre which acts as a preservative and gives the biltong a bright red colour.




  • Wash the meat.
  • Cut the meat at an angle against the grain into about one inch strips.
  • Sprinkle vinegar over the meat
  • Place the coriander in a bag and lightly crush the whole coriander so that the effect of the coriander will be greater.
  • Make the "biltong mix" by combining the course salt, brown sugar, coriander, black pepper.
  • Dip the meat into the "biltong mix" until all the mix is used up.
  • Place the meat in a tray for a few hours, or over night, in the fridge.
  • After a few hours dump any blood that has seeped out of the meat.
  • Dip the biltong quickly into a water/vinegar mixture to remove surface salt.
  • Hang the biltong by making a very small incision through the slice of meat with a knife about an inch from the end of the meat.
  • Cut the string into about 10 inch strips which are placed through the meat and tied to form a loop.
  • Hang the biltong in a place not to far from an electrical outlet by taking the loop of string and place it on the hook or nail or hangar or whatever device you have created to suspend the meat.
  • To dry the meat turn on the light(regular light bulb) and the fan and leave for about 4-7 days depending on humidity, temperature and taste.


Serves 1 hungry South African

Storage directions

Ha! If you have any biltong left after a couple days then you are either a very lucky person or have added too much salt! Biltong can be frozen. It can be grated and used in such dishes as Biltong Frittata or Biltong and Cheese Quiche, which I personally thinks sounds gross!




BILTONG - Recipe 2


Serves 30

10 pounds venison
8 ounces Salt
2 ounces Mixed Spices
1/4 tablespoon Chilli peppers
1 teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper, Optional
1 ounce Prague Powder No 2.

  • Using the dry-cure method, mix all the salts and spices.
  • Cut the meat into 1 inch thin strips and lay a layer in a curing pan.
  • Sprinkle the salt mixture over the layer and then place another layer on top, repeating the process.
  • Continue to layer the meat untill all the strips are laid out and salted.
  • Cure for 24 hours then remove from the cure and scrub all the salt off.
  • Pre heat the smoker to 100 degrees and smoke for about 8 hours.
  • Cool rapidly
  • Keep in a cool dry place until you're really hungry, then tuck in.



BILTONG - Recipe 3


Beef (Preferably Silverside/London Broil)
Rock Salt
Coarse Ground Black Pepper
Coarse Ground Coriander
Vinegar (preferably Apple-Cider vinegar)

First, be sure to sterilize all your hooks, knives, and working surfaces by washing well in hot water and soap.

Get some half-inch thick strips of beef (silverside - called London Broil in the US). Make sure it's cut with the grain. The pieces should be about 6 inches long. Liberally sprinkle rock-salt on each side of the pieces of meat and let them stand for an hour. The longer you let it stand the saltier it will become.

After the hour, scrape off all the excess salt with a knife (don't soak it in water!). Then get some vinegar, preferably apple-cider vinegar, but any vinegar will do. Put some vinegar in a bowl and dip the strips of meat in the vinegar for a second or so, just so that the meat is covered in the vinegar. Hold the biltong up so that the excess vinegar drips off. Then sprinkle ground pepper and ground coriander over the meat on all sides.

Once you have done this, the meat is ready to dry. There are several methods of drying. One is to hang it up on a line in a cool place and have a fan blow on it. This method is a bit difficult because if the air is humid the meat can spoil. The method I use is a home-made 'Biltong Box'. This is basically a sealed wooden box (you can use cardboard if you like) about 40cm across and 1m high, with holes in the sides and a 60w lightbulb inside. Just hang the meat at the top of the box, and leave the lightbulb on at the bottom. The heat from the lightbulb helps dry the meat (even in humid weather) in about 3-4 days. Remember, the box must be closed on all 6 sides except for a few holes. The whole theory behind this method is that hot dry air rises thus drying the biltong. The holes are quite important as they promote good air circulation in the box.

You'll know when the biltong is ready when it is quite hard, but still a bit moist inside. Of course, some people like it 'wet' and others like it 'dry'. It's all a matter of taste. Most South Africans I know like it in between - basically just a bit red inside. If it has gone green, then the meat has spoiled (i.e. don't eat it).

Variations include the above recipe, but add flavours like Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce, tabasco sauce, soy sauce, etc. Just brush these sauces on after applying the vinegar using a basting brush.






4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 cup butter
2 beaten eggs
Deep hot oil for frying


4 cups sugar and
3 cups water


Sift flour, salt and baking powder into bowl, rub in butter. Add beaten eggs and little milk to form stiff dough. Chill for 1/2 hour.

Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into strips 2 1/2 x 1 inch. Cut strips into 3 tails, leaving one end joined. Plait strips and join end of plait.

Fry a few at a time in hot oil. Lift out, drain and drop into chilled syrup.







2 medium onions sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 lb (1 kg) mince
1 thick slice bread
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs

Fry onions in butter; sprinkle curry powder on onions, add salt, sugar, vinegar, meat and mix well.

Soak bread in milk, drain, mash with a fork and add to meat, together with 1 egg. Put in a pie dish. Stand dish in another dish of water. Beat remaining egg, add to milk and pour on top of meat. Bake at 3500F for 30/40 minutes. Take out of oven and sprinkle with cheese if desired.





1 Pie crust (pre-baked)
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon butter (or margarine)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup flour

Boil together milk, sugar, butter and cinnamon. Mix flour with cold water to pouring consistency. Add flour mixture to boiling milk, stirring all the time. Cool slightly. Beat eggs well and add to milk mixture. Cook mixture again for a few minutes.

Pour mixture into pie crust, sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Bake at 180 C (375 F) for 20 minutes.

(Serve cold, keep in fridge if possible.)





Biltong Recipes


Biltong Spread


  • 125 g smooth cream cheese with chives
  • 30 ml mayonnaise
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 60 g grated biltong (125 ml)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Spread on bread canapes - cut slices of bread into rounds or fingers, fry in cooking oil until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack then spread with biltong mixture and garnish with sliced olives or gherkins.


Spread on slices of wholewheat bread and garnished with thin slices of lemon or cucumber.




Biltong Muffins


  • 120 g Wholewheat flour (250 ml)
  • 120 g Cake flour (250 ml)
  • 200 g Biltong - finely chopped (500 ml)
  • 50 g Cheddar Cheese (125 ml)
  • 30 ml Baking powder
  • 3 Eggs
  • 200 ml Milk
  • 100 ml Cooking oil
  • 5 ml Salt
  • 15 ml Lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients and mix lightly. Spoon into greased muffin pans and bake at 220° C for 11 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before removing and serving with butter.




Biltong Potbread



  • 240 g Cake flour (500 ml)
  • 20 ml Baking Powder
  • 2 ml Salt
  • 5 ml Mustard powder
  • 100 g Butter
  • Approximately 100 ml Milk
  • 1 Egg - beaten
  • 120 g Ground Biltong (250 ml)
  • 200 g Smooth cottage cheese
  • 30 ml Chopped parsley
  • Freshly gound pepper to taste
  • Mayonnaise to moisten
  • 15 ml Lemon juice
To make the dough sift tohether the dry ingredients. Cut butter into the flour with a knife and then rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles dried breadcrumbs.
Beat the milk and egg together. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the liquid gradually. Mix quickly to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly until smooth. Roll out into a square approximately 10mm thick.

 To make the filling mix all ingredients together and spread over the dough keepin 25mm clear along the edges. Roll up dough like a Swiss roll and seal the edges with beaten egg and water. Wrap lightly in greaseproof paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Carefully cut the dough into 25mm slices and arrange them - cut side down - on the bottom of a greased No.3 cast iron pot. Begin in the centre and arrange the remaining slices in a circle. Leave the sides of the pot clear to allow the dough to rise. Grease the inside of the lid with cooking oil or butter and cover the pot. Put the pot over a small fire - put a few small hot coals on the lid and bake for 20 - 30 minutes until the bread is golden brown and cooked. Turn out - cool slightly - and then serve with crisp vegetable sticks and lettuce leaves. 

Serves 6





Peri-Peri Chicken Livers recipe

Peri-Peri Chicken Livers come from the Port



1 large onion -- chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or peri-peri powder
250 grams chicken livers, cleaned and halved
1 tablespoon brandy
salt and pepper


Instructions on how to make it

Saute the onion in the oil. Add the cayenne pepper or peri-peri.
Add the chicken livers and stir-fry over high heat until just cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Add the brandy to deglaze the pan.

Slice soft fresh rolls in half and open butterfly-style. Butter lightly and spoon the liver onto the rolls.
Serve with a fresh green salad dressed with a tangy garlic dressing.



Boerewors recipe

Boerewors or Farmers Sausage is a traditional BBQ sausage. There are many secret recipes on how to make boerewors but here we provide you with the traditional recipe.


2 kg of chuck beef (fat and gristle removed)
750 de-boned thick rib of pork
200 g of pork fat (spek)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons salt
a good pinch of nutmeg
½ cup vinegar
About 90g of pork casings (ask your butcher for some or ask him where you can buy it)

Instructions on how to make it

Cut the meat and spek into small cubes. Sprinkle the seasoning over the meat (not the vinegar Penny), mix well and then mince together. Add the vinegar and mix lightly, but thoroughly. Stuff into casing and refrigerate for 24 hours in a covered, non-metal container.

(Optional: You can experiment by adding additional ingredients. For a lovely curry flavour add a tablespoon of curry powder to the above recipe. For a great garlic flavour add finely crushed and chopped garlic and for a sharper taste add more vinegar).

Do not overcook sausage. About 12-15 minutes over slow coals should do well. Serve with other BBQ dishes like Mealie Bread.



Buttermilk Rusks recipe

This is a traditional yeast-baked rusk - great for dunking in your tea or coffee early in the morning when you watch the sun rise as the boer trekkers did every morning when they traveled from the Cape to the Transavaal. If the rusks are to be kept for a long time, do not substitute margarine for the butter.


375g butter
500g sugar
2 extra large eggs
1,5kg self-raising flour
30ml (2 tablespoons) baking powder
500ml (2 cups) buttermilk or plain drinking yogurt

Instructions on how to make it

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cream the butter and sugar together very well. Add the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and add this to the creamed mixture, using a fork to mix. Add the buttermilk or yogurt, using a little milk to rinse out the carton. Mix well with a fork and then knead lightly. Pack lightly rolled, golf ball sized buns of the dough into the greased bread pans close together, and bake for 45-55 minutes. Place the pans in the middle of the oven, with a sheet of brown paper on the top shelf to protect the buns from becoming browned too quickly.

Remove the paper after the buns are well risen and cooked through, to brown the tops. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Turn out the buns on to cake racks, cool them and separate them, using 2 forks. Pack them on wire racks or on cooled oven racks – air must circulate. Place them in the cool oven, leaving the door ajar, for 4-5 hours, or overnight, to dry out.

If no buttermilk or yogurt is available, use fresh milk curdled with lemon juice or white vinegar.




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