From markets to wineries to the best restaurants in the city, here are a few must-try dishes in local townships around Cape Town. These dishes typically involve creative twists on South African dishes with indigenous ingredients that you just don’t see anywhere else. The best way to explore a place is to experience the local cuisine and chat with residents about a tasty meal unique to their area. If you’re a food lover, the Mother City’s townships are rich in culinary diversity, each bringing the spices and flavours of different cultures to the table.
For a foodie adventure, add these six must-try dishes to your foodie bucket list:
Boerewors is a favourite, which is handmade from ground meat. It is immensely popular, so much so that it’s practically a staple food. While strolling past township street vendors you are likely to see this coiled sausage roasting on the hot coals of a braai (barbecue), which is also known as shisa nyama.
The Kota experience
For those who may not know, Kota is usually a white loaf of bread cut into four quarters, some of the inside parts are cut out and filled with different fillings such as potato chips, viennas, russians, atchaar (a spicy condiment), sliced polony and even fried egg. When filled with curry it is known as a bunny chow. It is quite filling and one thing for sure is that local residents in Langa love Kotas – also called a sphatlo or skhambani in the townships. If you’re craving one then try a mouth-watering one at Kota Vibes, located in Winnie Mandela Drive, Langa.
Chakalaka and pap
Chakalaka is a traditional South African spicy vegetable relish. It is usually served with pap (maize porridge) and is most commonly found in townships. It has become so popular that one can now buy it in cans in supermarkets. However, chakalaka from a local eatery is different – you will never taste two that taste the same. It can range from mild to searing hot.
Deep-fried chicken head and feet
You have most probably not tried these yet, but the ‘walkies’ or chicken feet, also known as ‘runaways’ and ‘talkies’ known as chicken heads are eaten all across townships. It mainly consists of skin and tendons so its crunchy texture and flavour are different from the rest of the chicken. They can also be enjoyed as a meal with “pap” (a kind of firm Maize mash) and are best eaten by hand.
People in the township of Langa make the most out of butchers’ leftovers. Usually, the head of a sheep or goat is cleaned, sometimes halved, and stewed or grilled with or without the brain and tongue. Affectionately dubbed “smiley” this township speciality gets its signature look from the process of singeing the hair from the sheep’s head with a searing-hot metal rod.
Vetkoek / Amagwinya
When translated from Afrikaans, vetkoek means fat or fatty cake. In the Xhosa language, it is known as Amagwinya. Yeast dough is rolled into golf-ball-sized portions and deep-fried. Best enjoyed hot, they taste a little like doughnuts and can be eaten as is or with butter, jam, cheese or a hot vegetable or meaty filling. Come hungry and grab a great Amagwina in Khayelitsha at Vetkoek Den.
Capetonians love making, eating, and sharing food. There are so many unique tastes and flavours in the different parts of our city, and only by travelling to an area and making the effort to seek out local cuisines, will you be able to indulge in authentic dishes loved by the people who live there. What are you waiting for?
Now, all that’s left to do is pack up your appetite and start exploring local eateries in different townships and treat your taste buds to these six mouth-watering dishes to bust your hunger.