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South African Cuisine: Do’s And Don’ts When Preparing a True South African Feast

by Olivera Galevski

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As South Africans, we’re quite an easy bunch to please. All we need are a few pieces of meat on the braai (more commonly known as a BBQ), a simple braaibroodjie, and a few refreshments to get us through a delicious meal and social get-together.

However, as with any one way of doing things, there are simple do’s and don’ts which need to be followed if you plan on attempting traditional South African food recipes. Remember, when figuring out how to cook South African meals, always do a little bit of the following and never attempt the don’ts:




Add Mrs. Balls Chutney to everything


Mrs. Balls Chutney

Not only is Mrs. Balls Chutney a delicious blend of fruits and spices, it also adds a unique taste to South African meals. Of course, you can’t prepare a meal without adding a dollop or two to the mix – ensuring that you’re able to reminisce mouth-watering South African flavors and nostalgic memories of hearty South African meals. As South Africans, we tend to add Mrs. Balls Chutney to everything, and so should you! 


Make a famous braaibroodjie


Using just two slices of bread, tomato, onion, and cheese, you’re able to prepare a true South African cuisine in a whim. As South Africans, we simply can’t think of having a braai without a few braaibroodjies to accompany our main meal. It’s simple to make, delicious, and only requires a little bit of braai time in a grid over the fire to become a South African favorite.


Take forever to prepare the meal



Perhaps this doesn’t apply to every traditional South African food recipe, but it sure does pertain to the average braai. Never expect to eat dinner before 10 pm. While preparing a meal may not necessarily take as long, the long waits are a common custom. In which case, it may be a good idea to eat a light snack before dinner in order to keep you going until the main meal arrives. If not, you may end up starving.


Add cream to everything


We love anything and everything creamy. Thus, if we’re able to add cream to South African cuisine, we will. We understand that it may not be the healthiest ingredient to add to every meal, but it definitely makes for delicious flavors and an added richness that you may not find otherwise.


Remember to socialize more than you eat


socialising at meals

Food is important, but it is a common South African custom to socialize more than we eat when hosting a dinner party. Very rarely will the conversation be quiet. If it is, then chances are something is very wrong. South Africans tend to socialize by incorporating food into the mix – ensuring that our stomachs are full and our hearts are happy.




Skip on the salt/seasoning


herbs and seasonings

Before attempting South African food preparation, we ensure that the pieces of meat have been seasoned thoroughly in order to create a delicious end result. We don’t skimp on seasoning salts when it comes to having a braai, and neither should you. Of course, we don't braai every day, which makes it socially acceptable to enjoy an abundance of salt once a week.


Hesitate to try everything once



With so many unique and wonderful traditional South African food recipes to choose from, it’s no wonder that you may find a few unusual choices to choose from, ranging from oxtail to shark meat. Thus, you need to be able to try everything at least once before making up your mind about the cuisine in general. You never know what you may like or dislike, but it’s a great feeling to be able to say that you’ve tried everything once!


Refer to a braai as a BBQ



It’s absolutely crucial that you never refer to a braai as a BBQ. Not only will you receive a few awkward stares, you may have also offended the host and be asked to join someone else’s braai instead. Of course, most cases are not as extreme as South African hosts are nothing but polite and courteous, but you should definitely keep that in mind if you ever do plan on learning how to cook South African meals over a fire.

At the end of the braai, you’re going to need to store all the leftovers (if there are any) in plastic storage containers in order to keep it fresh and edible for the next day – especially if you plan on making a meat sandwich (which is another favorite means of using the meaty leftovers for an additional meal).


At the end of the day, it’s all about how you approach South African cuisine – ensuring that you have a great time whilst attempting a little bit of South African food preparation. Remember, most things take place in ‘African time.’ No need to rush the important things in life: good food and enjoyable company!


Love South African traditions at the dinner table? Try out another South African tradition too when you go on a classic safari in South Africa!

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