Which language do you want to learn?

Which language do you want to learn?

Traditional Afrikaans Cuisine: Key Terms

Student practicing Swedish language basics via app.

Exploring the flavors of a country’s traditional cuisine can be one of the most exciting aspects of learning a new language and culture. When it comes to South Africa, Afrikaans cuisine offers a rich array of dishes that reflect both the country’s indigenous heritage and the influences from Dutch, French, and other European settlers. Here are some key terms to familiarize yourself with the traditional Afrikaans cuisine.

Braai
Braai is perhaps one of the most quintessential South African culinary traditions. It refers to a barbecue, where meats like boerewors, steaks, and chicken are grilled over hot coals. This social event is about more than just food; it’s a chance to gather with friends and family.
On National Braai Day, every household in the neighborhood fired up their grills to participate in the celebration.

Boerewors
Boerewors is a type of South African sausage made from a mix of minced beef and either pork or lamb, spiced with a blend that often includes coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. It’s a staple at any braai.
We made sure to buy an extra coil of boerewors for our weekend braai as it’s always the first to run out.

Biltong
Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat that varies widely across South Africa. Commonly compared to American jerky, biltong is typically prepared from beef or game meats and flavored with vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander, and other spices.
As a snack during the rugby match, he offered me a piece of spicy biltong, which was surprisingly tender.

Bobotie
Bobotie is a savory custard-topped minced meat casserole with Malay influences, including the incorporation of curry spices, fruit, and nuts. It’s often served with yellow rice and represents a hearty example of comfort food in Afrikaans cuisine.
For dinner, my host mother prepared a delicious bobotie that filled the house with warm, spicy aromas.

Koeksisters
Koeksisters are a traditional Afrikaans confectionery treat. They are braided pastries that are deep-fried and then soaked in a sweet, sticky syrup. There is also a Cape Malay version that includes a dusting of coconut.
Every Sunday morning, Ouma would fry up koeksisters, and the kids would crowd the kitchen waiting for them to cool down just enough to eat.

Melktert
Melktert, which translates to “milk tart,” is a classic South African dessert. It consists of a sweet pastry crust filled with a creamy custard made from milk, flour, sugar, and eggs, typically topped with a dusting of cinnamon.
I always look forward to teatime because I know there will be a slice of melktert, my favorite South African dessert.

Potjiekos
Potjiekos means “small-pot food” and is a type of stew that is slow-cooked in a three-legged cast-iron pot over an open fire. This dish often includes meat, vegetables, starches like potatoes or rice, and sometimes even fruit, all layered and left to simmer for hours.
Gathering around the fire to watch the potjiekos cook, we all shared stories and anticipated the delicious meal.

Sosaties
Sosaties are South African skewers of marinated, curried meat cubes, often lamb, with dried apricots or other fruits. The name comes from “sate” (skewered meat) and “saus” (spicy sauce).
We prepped the sosaties the night before, so they had plenty of time to marinade before we grilled them.

Understanding these terms can deeply enhance your appreciation of Afrikaans culture and open up an exciting world of culinary adventure. Whether you’re ordering from a menu in Cape Town, cooking an authentic South African dish at home, or simply looking to expand your food vocabulary, these key terms offer a savory glimpse into the heart of Afrikaans cuisine.

Talkpal is AI-powered language tutor. Learn 57+ languages 5x faster with revolutionary technology.