The best way to get to experience a culture and know a place is through its local cuisine.
South Africa is culturally diverse and offers food lovers a variety of culinary experiences.
Here are six local townships to visit and taste their signature dishes.
Cape Malay Food
If you’re a gourmand and happen to be touring the Cape Flats around Cape Town, then Cape Malay food is definitely worth a try.
Cape Malay is an important part of Capetonian culture. It’s a spicy, aromatic and a full-bodied fusion of flavours from the Malaysian, Indonesian and East African slaves brought to the Cape in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The food is also a cultural aspect shared by the community. When you’re there, you will spot a queue of people lining up in front of someone’s garage or kitchen, or by a mama at a corner.
Capetonians have a Sunday tradition of buying fresh koeksisters, samoosas, roti-filled food and different curries from households who sell.
If you want a proper gatsby, then Athlone is the place to go. Super Fisheries, Wembley Roadhouse and Golden Plate in the area specialise in this dish.
According to Wikipedia, a gatsby is a South African submarine sandwich consisting of a bread roll filled with chips and a choice of fillings, grilled meat, sausage, eggs, tomato, lettuce, cheese, and sauces.
It originated in Cape Town and is popular throughout the Western Cape. The best way to enjoy this local dish is to share it between two or four people while served on the bonnet of someone’s car.
A growing trend, monster freakshakes, are definitely worth a try for those with a sweet tooth.
Skeem Corner in the semi-township of Tickyline at Tzaneen in Limpopo serves some of the most creative treats around. Tzaneen offers tourists a variety of sites and activities, including the Hans Merensky Game Reserve, Glencoe Baobab, Agatha Crocodile Ranch and hiking trails.
A monster freakshake is made of a jugful of ice cream, cake, wafer, cookies and other dainty treats that may tickle your fancy.
So after a hiking trail why not get your glucose up with a monster shake?
Soweto is home of kota. You can buy this quick meal on almost every corner. Although it originated in Johannesburg, it’s known by different names depending on which part of the country you are from.
Durban has it’s own version, the bunny chow, topped with curry while those from the north know it as sphathlo and those in the Vaal triangle call it skhambane.
A kota is made out of a quarter loaf of bread and variety of meat fillings, fruit, vegetables, relishes, achaar, your favourite condiments, eggs and mopani worms.
Don’t miss the Blue Ribbon Soweto Kota Festival, which will take place in Soweto from September 3 to 4.
Ox liver with a kick
Basically, Soweto is the home of kasi food. It is the oldest township in the country so it’s a no-brainer that if you want the township experience, its the best place to go.
Sphanda-by-Day opposite Protea Gardens Mall in Soweto serves one of the best pre-fried ox-liver with bell peppers and a special in-house sweet and tangy sauce.
Beef offal is also a local favourite commonly served in townships around Mzansi. Offal is the internal organs, the stomach, intestines, liver or kidneys of animals. The dish is prepared in a way that combines these ingredients with a variety of flavours.
Each township has its own braai culture and signature taste when it comes to braaied meat and chicken dust. However, if you want a lekker jol and some meat, then take a trip to eMlazi.
Just so you know, chicken dust is spicy chicken, quarter, half or full, which is flame-grilled, and actual dust.
South Africans love braaied meat and many ‘chisa nyamas’ double as clubs or taverns. You have Max’s Lifestyle, Metro Gents and eYadini Lounge who specialise in braaied meat.
You find chicken dust on the streets and almost every corner or turn of the township. If you’re ever in Moruleng in Rustenburg, Kasi Chicken Dust, just opposite Moruleng Mall, serves up food that is top tier.
Find yourself in East London and in the mood for a hearty traditional meal? Then head to Gama La Magama African Cuisine in Mdantsane.
The restaurant sells traditional isiXhosa dishes serving trusted meals like sheep trotters, sheep head, steam bread and traditional salads.
With travel now fully open in South Africa, take advantage and explore townships and improve your knowledge of Mzansi. Also check out the online booking platform, Jurni, to see what other wonderful travel and food experiences Mzansi has to offer.