6 December 2021
Cape Town is a melting pot of cultures and with that comes an eclectic, yet delicious mixture of traditional food experiences. The country’s rich heritage is evident when families gather to share their favourite meals together. From township-style shisanyama barbeques to Cape Malay bobotie and the Afrikaner sweet treat, koeksisters, Cape Town has the best food.
Cape Malay cuisine, with its Asian, African and Dutch influences, is completely unique. It originated in the 1600s when Indonesian and African slaves brought Islam to the Cape. The Mother City is obviously the most appropriate place to try out Malay food such as bredies (stews) and pickled atchars and sambals.
Bobotie is a well-known Malay dish made from mild curried mince and topped with a layer of baked savoury custard. It is served with yellow rice and chutney sauce. Sweet treats include the milk drink, boeber, and hertzoggies – a biscuit filled with jam and coconut.
This is where you can experience traditional Cape Malay food in Cape Town:
The Gatsby is another quintessential Cape Town food. This long sandwich filled with several ingredients, usually including meat and hot chips, was invented by accident and is a popular way to use up left-over food. The Gatsby is made to be shared!
The Gatsby is served at:
A braai (similar to a barbeque) is a favourite South African activity. It’s done by cooking meats such as chops, boerewors (spiced sausage) and chicken over hot coals. Friends and family gather to enjoy this social activity when the weather is good. They usually enjoy cold beers and salads such as potato and bean salads and cheesy braai broodjies (barbecued sandwiches).
Shisanyama (meaning to ‘burn meat’ in Zulu) is similar to a braai. It originated in the townships as a way for butchers to entice more customers over weekends.
To try traditional South African shisanyama in Cape Town, visit:
The bunny chow is an Indian food that originates in Durban, on South Africa’s east coast. Fortunately, it doesn’t involve bunnies, but rather consists of a hollowed-out loaf of white bread filled with a delicious curry. This messy meal is served with some of the hollowed-out bread for dipping and is often referred to as a bunny.
Find some bunny chow at:
Melktert (milk tart) is a traditional Afrikaans dessert that is enjoyed in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa. Similar to the British custard tart, it consists of a pastry crust filled with a smooth, creamy, milk-based filling. The top is dusted with cinnamon.
Melktert is sold in most bakeries where you’ll probably also find another Afrikaner sweet treat, koeksisters. These golden, crunchy, braided doughs – with Dutch heritage – are drenched in a super sweet syrup.
Enjoy melktert at:
Biltong and droëwors is another food (more like a snack) to try while in Cape Town. Biltong is cured, dried meat with spices added. It is served sliced or left as a solid stick. Similarly, droëwors, is essentially dried sausage. Most South Africans enjoy this snack at home, bars or on road-trips. It’s sold in butcheries, most supermarkets, and at some bars, pubs, and restaurants.
Pap is an African staple consisting of cooked maize meal. Enjoy the thick, solid putu pap or the light and crumbly krummelpap. Pap is usually eaten by hand and used to mop up the sauce leftover by stews, braai meat and curries.
Chakalaka is a spicy vegetable dish made from onions, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and beans. It can be eaten hot or cold and is often served alongside pap and braai meat. You will find pap and chakalaka at most restaurants that serve shisanyama.
For other phenomenal food experiences in Cape Town, visit: