13 Weird Traditional Dishes in South Africa | ExpatWomanFood.com

13 Weird Traditional Dishes in South Africa

People really eat that?

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7 November 2017

13 Weird Traditional Dishes in South Africa

When people think about South Africa, they generally think about Cape Town, the Kruger National Park, wild life and absolutely breath-taking natural landscapes. South Africa does however have a weird side to it…their food!

Here are 13 of the weirdest traditional dishes that you can find in South Africa:


Also known as muise, vlermuise or pofadder, this dish is lamb’s liver wrapped in caul fat (the fatty membrane surrounding the kidneys) that is barbecued. It is known as little toroise (skilpadjie), mice (muise) and puf adder (pofadder) because of its appearance. Skilpadjies are best served with mealie pap or toasted bread.

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These are nutritious, crunchy but tasty dried out caterpillars. The worms are harvested from trees and bushes, squeezed to get rid of their guts and then boiled with tomatoes and garlic. The worms can also be fried. This dish is actually originally from Zimbabwe but became very popular as a snack in South Africa.

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Walky Talky

We don’t blame you if you don’t want to try this. Walky talky’s are chicken heads (walky) and feet (talky) that is covered in batter and deep-fried. They can also be grilled and is eaten mainly in townships. The feet can also be boiled to remove the skin then spiced and cooked.

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Biltong & Droëwors

Biltong is similar to jerky in America except that it tastes a lot better! It is dried meat that has been salted and left to dry. Similarly, droëwors (directly translated to dry sausage) is spiced meat that is stuffed as a sausage and then left to dry. This is a definite MUST try if you are in the country.

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Feeling hungry but you’re in the middle of the bush with no shops around? Why not walk over to your closest tree and have a look for termites? Famous in rural areas, those who have tried it said termites taste just like carrots! They are a great source of protein and can be eaten raw or roasted or fried in oil.

13 Weird Traditional Dishes in South Africa

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Don’t let the name scare you away! Even though the bugs smell horrible while alive, they are beheaded and squeezed empty before being cooked and sundried. The end result? A cinnamon and iodine infused snack that is rich in Vitamin B. These little critters are also high in amino acids and help with cholesterol – who would’ve thought? As most of the bugs on this list, stinkbugs are eaten as snacks in rural areas in South Africa.

13 Weird Traditional Dishes in South Africa

Image Credit: kwayedza.co.zw

Ostrich Egg Omelette

This one might not be as weird as some of the items on the list, but it made the list purely for its size. One ostrich egg is the equivalent of 12 normal eggs and is usually served with butter, salt, pepper and parsley. If you want to make it extra tasty, you can also sprinkle some grated cheese over it.

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Depending who you talk to in South Africa, people will either tell you they absolutely love afval or that it is the most disgusting thing that you will ever eat! Afval means ‘waste’ and is made from the stomach lining and trotters of lamb. It is actually a very flavoursome dish that is either curried or stewed and served with rice. It is usually just the picky eaters who complain about the dish.

Beef Tongue

This might sound weird, but beef tongue is actually really delicious! Especially on sandwiches or as cold meat on your dinner table. The tongue is usually cooked and served with a mustard sauce. This one is finger lickin’ good!

Bokkoms (also known as harders)

Remember how we mentioned biltong above? Well consider bokkoms the West Coast version of biltong. Bokkoms are whole mullet fish that is salted and then dried in the open air. Bokkoms can sometimes also be smoked but the skin is always peeled off before eating it. The idea might sound unappetizing, but this is actually a well-known delicacy in the West Coast.

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Amasi or Dikmelk

Amasi or dikmelk is fermented milk. No, it isn’t sour milk, just fermented and is seen as a unique local treat. It has a very weird texture but pairs well with krummelpap and is easily accessible at most local stores. You can also ferment the milk yourself, just don’t forget about it!

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Kaiings, or cracklings in English, is the internal fat of a cow or sheep that is fried until it becomes crispy. This dish is extremely fatty but well enjoyed warm with freshly baked bread or maize porridge.

Smileys or Skaapkop

This one definitely isn’t for the sensitive eaters… Skaapkop in English means lambs head. Looking at the meal, it isn’t difficult to realise where the other name, ‘smileys,’ comes from. The head of a lamb is spiced and baked for several hours. The end result is a head that looks like it’s smiling at you with succulent meat that is literally falling off the bone. To answer that question lingering in your head, yes – you eat the brains and eyes as well as part of the head. Those who were brave enough to try it, and managed to look past the head staring at them, said that this is a definite must try!

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