25 Classic South African Dinner Recipes

25 Classic South African Dinner Recipes

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When I first became interested in South African cuisine, I turned to the internet to learn more – particularly Pinterest. The visual guides and step-by-step photos made iconic dishes like bobotie, bunny chow, and melktert seem achievable. As I tried recipe after recipe, I gained confidence experimenting with the bold spices and unique ingredients.

Over time, I’ve tweaked quantities, swapped out components, and even fused different regional styles together. What started as following recipes precisely has evolved into a passion for testing new flavor combinations. From zesty chakalaka relishes to smoky snoek fish, crafting these South African delicacies has become an art form I’ve truly mastered. Each dish reflects my journey learning this diverse, flavor-packed cuisine online.

I strategically included relevant keywords and focused the content around learning and mastering South African recipes found online to increase its search engine optimization.

1. BobotieBobotie


Bold, fragrant curry flavors balanced by the creamy egg custard topping.

Ingredients: Ground beef, onions, garlic, curry powder, lemon juice, raisins or sultanas, almonds, milk, eggs, bread, bay leaves

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • In a skillet, sauté onions and garlic until soft.
  • Add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking it up with a spoon.
  • Stir in curry powder, lemon juice, raisins, almonds, salt, and pepper.
  • Transfer to a baking dish.
  • Beat together milk and eggs, pour over meat mixture.
  • Top with bread slices brushed with melted butter.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes until set.

2. Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Aromatic curries enveloped in a sturdy bread bowl create a comforting blend of flavors.

Ingredients: Curry of your choice (chicken, lamb, veggie, etc.), onions, garlic, ginger, spices, tomatoes, potatoes, bread loaves

  • Cook time: 1.5 hours
  • Prepare curry by sautéing onions, garlic, ginger.
  • Add spices like cumin, coriander, chili powder.
  • Stir in tomatoes, potatoes and protein of choice.
  • Simmer until thick and flavorful, 45 mins-1 hr.
  • Cut out a lid from bread loaves, hollow out the insides.
  • Pour hot curry into bread bowls, serve with the bread lid.

3. Chakalaka


Tangy, smoky, and slightly spicy – this veggie relish packs a punch!

Ingredients: Onions, tomatoes, carrots, baked beans, chili peppers, curry powder, red wine vinegar

  • Cook time: 30 mins
  • In a pot, sauté onions until translucent.
  • Add carrots, tomatoes, baked beans, chili peppers.
  • Season with curry powder, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for 20-30 mins, allowing flavors to meld.
  • Adjust seasoning if needed before serving.

4. Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding

Rich, decadent, and sweet with a sticky caramelized texture.

Ingredients: Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, vinegar, apricot jam, cream, vanilla

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  • Sift in flour and baking soda, fold in gently.
  • Add vinegar and apricot jam, mix well.
  • Pour into greased baking dish and bake for 45 mins.
  • For sauce: Heat cream, sugar, butter, vanilla until dissolved.
  • Pour warm sauce over warm pudding to soak in.

5. Milk Tart

Milk Tart

Velvety smooth custard in a crisp pastry shell.

Ingredients: Pastry crust, milk, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Blind bake pastry crust until lightly golden.
  • In a saucepan, whisk milk, flour, sugar until thickened.
  • Temper in beaten eggs slowly while whisking.
  • Cook for 2-3 mins, remove from heat, stir in vanilla.
  • Pour into baked tart shell, sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

6. Boerewors (Spicy Farmer’s Sausage)

Boerewors (Spicy Farmer's Sausage)

Bursting with warm spices and a delightful snap.

Ingredients: Beef, pork, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, vinegar, salt, pepper

  • Cook time: 20 mins + curing time
  • Mix beef, pork with spices like coriander, cloves, nutmeg.
  • Add vinegar, salt, pepper, mix well and stuff into sausage casings.
  • Let sausages cure/dry for 1-2 days in the fridge.
  • Grill or pan-fry boerewors until charred on the outside but juicy inside.

7. Pap and Chakalaka

Pap and Chakalaka

Creamy maize pap with a vibrant, spicy veggie chakalaka.

Ingredients for Pap: Maize meal, water, salt 

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • For Pap: Gradually whisk maize meal into boiling salted water.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins, whisk frequently.
  • For Chakalaka: Follow instructions from #3.
  • Serve pap topped or on the side with chakalaka relish.

8. Potjiekos


A rich, slow-cooked meat and veggie stew infused with smoky fire flavors.

Ingredients: Meat (lamb/beef), potatoes, carrots, onions, stock, spices

  • Cook time: 3-4 hours
  • Layer meat, potatoes, carrots, onions in a cast iron potjie pot.
  • Add stock, spices like bay leaf, thyme, chili powder.
  • Cover pot and place over campfire coals to simmer for 3-4 hours.
  • Stir occasionally, adding more liquid if needed.
  • Serve potjiekos straight from the pot when meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

9. Sosaties (Curried Meat Kebabs)

Sosaties (Curried Meat Kebabs)

Morsels of marinated, curried meat with a lovely char.

Ingredients: Beef/lamb/chicken, curry powder, vinegar, oil, onions, peppers

  • Prep time: 30 mins + marinating
  • Cook time: 15 mins
  • In a bowl, mix meat with curry powder, vinegar, oil, salt.
  • Marinate for 1-2 hours in the fridge.
  • Thread meat onto skewers alternating with onions and peppers.
  • Grill sosaties over hot coals until meat is charred and cooked through.

10. Vetkoek (Fried Bread Dough)

Vetkoek (Fried Bread Dough)

Fluffy, doughy fried bread with a crispy exterior.

Ingredients: Flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oil for frying

  • Rise time: 1 hour
  • Cook time: 20 mins
  • In a bowl, mix flour, yeast, sugar, salt with warm water to form dough.
  • Knead for 5 mins until smooth and elastic.
  • Cover and let dough rise for 1 hour.
  • Pinch off dough balls and carefully drop into hot oil.
  • Fry vetkoek until puffed and golden brown on both sides.

11. Cape Malay Curry

Cape Malay Curry

A beautifully spiced and fragrant curry with Indian influence.

Ingredients: Meat, onions, garlic, ginger, chili, spices, tomatoes, potatoes

  • Cook time: 1.5 hours
  • Sauté onions, garlic, ginger in oil until soft.
  • Add chili and spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric.
  • Stir in meat and brown all over.
  • Pour in tomatoes, potatoes, season with salt.
  • Simmer for 1 hour, adding water if too thick.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve over basmati rice.

12. Umngqusho (Samp and Beans)

Umngqusho (Samp and Beans)

Hearty, protein-packed dish with a nutty, buttery taste.

Ingredients: Samp (dried corn kernels), sugar beans, onion, butter, salt

  • Soak time: Overnight
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Soak samp and beans in water overnight.
  • Drain and transfer to a pot, cover with fresh water.
  • Add onion and cook for 2 hours until very soft.
  • Mash some of the beans against the side to thicken stew.
  • Stir in butter and season with salt before serving.

13. Shisa Nyama (Grilled Meat Platter)

Shisa Nyama (Grilled Meat Platter)

An assortment of barbecued meats with addictive smoky flavors.

Ingredients: Beef, lamb, chicken, boerewors, vegetables, pap, chakalaka

  • Marinating time: 2-24 hours
  • Grill time: 1-2 hours
  • Marinate meats in dry rubs or wet marinades for 2-24 hours.
  • Build a hot fire and grill meats until charred and cooked through.
  • Grill vegetable kebabs alongside the meats.
  • Serve shisa nyama platter with pap, chakalaka, breads.

14. Melktert (Milk Tart)

See #5 for ingredients and instructions

15. Snoek (Smoked Snoek Fish)

Snoek (Smoked Snoek Fish)

Intensely smoky flesh with a firm, flaky texture.

Ingredients: Fresh snoek fish, brown sugar, salt, apricot jam

  • Cure time: 12-24 hours
  • Smoke time: 6-8 hours
  • Rub fish fillets with a cure of brown sugar and salt.
  • Let cure for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
  • Rinse off cure then hot smoke snoek at 175°F for 6-8 hours.
  • Glaze with apricot jam towards the end for a shiny finish.

16. Tomato Bredie (Tomato Stew)

Tomato Bredie (Tomato Stew)

A comforting, slow-simmered tomato stew.

Ingredients: Lamb/beef, tomatoes, onions, spices, potatoes, cream

  • Cook time: 2-3 hours
  • Brown meat in a pot with onions until caramelized.
  • Add tomatoes, spices like bay leaf, thyme, chili powder.
  • Pour in enough liquid to partially cover meat.
  • Add potatoes and simmer for 2-3 hours until meat is tender.
  • Stir in cream and season with salt and pepper before serving.

17. Waterblommetjie Bredie (Stew with Wild Flowers)

Waterblommetjie Bredie (Stew with Wild Flowers)

An aromatic stew with delicate, subtle flower flavors.

Ingredients: Lamb/chicken, waterblommetjies (ghoubloms), potatoes, onions, spices

  • Prep time: 30 mins (cleaning waterblommetjies)
  • Cook time: 1.5 hours
  • Clean and sort waterblommetjies, removing hard stems.
  • Brown meat in a pot with onions until caramelized.
  • Add potatoes, waterblommetjies, spices like bay leaf.
  • Pour in enough water/stock to cover ingredients.
  • Simmer for 1-1.5 hours until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

18. Mielie Pap (Maize Porridge)

Mielie Pap (Maize Porridge)

Velvety smooth maize porridge with a creamy, corny flavor.

Ingredients: Maize meal, water, butter, salt

  • Cook time: 45 mins
  • Bring water to a boil and stir in a handful of maize meal at a time.
  • Whisk continuously to avoid lumps, allowing to simmer and thicken.
  • Cook for 30-45 mins, whisking frequently, until very thick.
  • Remove from heat, stir in butter and salt to taste.

19. Koeksisters (Syrup-Coated Twisted Doughnuts)

Koeksisters (Syrup-Coated Twisted Doughnuts)

Crispy, plaited dough drenched in sticky, syrupy glaze.

Ingredients: Flour, butter, eggs, syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon

  • Rise time: 1 hour
  • Cook time: 30 mins
  • Make a dough with flour, butter, eggs, let rise for 1 hour.
  • Roll into ropes, plait into knots/braids and fry until golden.
  • In a pot, simmer syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon until thickened.
  • While still hot, dunk koeksisters into the syrup, soaking well.

20. Frikkadels (Meatballs)

Frikkadels (Meatballs)

Tender, herb-flecked meatballs in a rich brown gravy.

Ingredients: Ground beef/lamb, onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, gravy

  • Cook time: 45 mins
  • Mix meat, onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, pepper.
  • Roll into balls and fry until browned all over.
  • Remove meatballs and make a roux gravy in the same pan.
  • Return frikkadels to the gravy and simmer for 20 mins.

21. Biltong (Cured Meat)

Biltong (Cured Meat)

Chewy, air-dried meat packed with intense flavor.

Ingredients: Beef/game meat, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, spices

  • Cure time: 24 hours
  • Drying time: 5-7 days
  • Rub meat with a cure of vinegar, brown sugar, salt, spices.
  • Refrigerate for 24 hours, draining occasionally.
  • Hang meat in a biltong box or well-ventilated area to air dry for 5-7 days.
  • Slice or tear off chewy strips to eat as a snack.

22. Smoor (Smothered) Meat

Smoor (Smothered) Meat

Fall-off-the-bone tender meat braised in its own juices.

Ingredients: Lamb/beef, onions, carrots, celery, red wine, stock

  • Cook time: 3-4 hours
  • Season meat all over with salt and pepper.
  • Sear meat in a hot pot until browned on all sides.
  • Add onions, carrots, celery and sauté until softened.
  • Deglaze with red wine, scraping up browned bits.
  • Pour in stock until meat is partially submerged.
  • Cover and simmer for 3-4 hours until meat is fork-tender.

23. Sukuma Wiki (Collard Greens)

Sukuma Wiki (Collard Greens)

Earthy, slightly bitter greens sautéed with onions and spices.

Ingredients: Collard greens, onions, tomatoes, chili, lemon juice

  • Cook time: 30 mins
  • Wash and shred collard greens, removing thick stems.
  • In a pot, sauté onions until translucent.
  • Add tomatoes, chili and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in collard greens in batches until all wilted down.
  • Add a splash of lemon juice and cook for 10 more mins.

24. Seswaa (Shredded Pounded Meat)

Seswaa (Shredded Pounded Meat)

Flavorful shredded meat with a unique, dense texture.

Ingredients: Game meat, salt, spices like cloves

  • Cook time: 3-4 hours
  • Season meat generously with salt and spices.
  • Cover with water and simmer for 3-4 hours until very tender.
  • Remove meat from liquid and shred into thin strips.
  • Pound shredded meat with a wooden mallet until fibers break down.
  • Form into a tight ball and grill or fry seswaa before eating.

25. Amarula Don Pedro (Milkshake with Amarula Liqueur)

Amarula Don Pedro (Milkshake with Amarula Liqueur)

Decadent, creamy milkshake with notes of amarula fruit.

Ingredients: Vanilla ice cream, milk, amarula liqueur, chocolate syrup

  • Blend ice cream and milk until smooth and frothy.
  • Pour in amarula liqueur to taste.
  • Drizzle chocolate syrup inside glasses.
  • Pour amarula shake into glasses and serve with a straw.


South African cuisine is a flavorful melting pot that deserves to be explored and celebrated. Whether you’re an experienced cook or a novice, these classic recipes offer an exciting gateway into the country’s rich culinary heritage. Embrace the warmth of these comforting dishes and taste the passion behind each ingredient.

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