Given that the first “barbecue” might well have taken place in Africa, this is a continent that can arguably claim to have invented cooking.But African dishes — especially those south of the Sahara — are still woefully under-represented on the world culinary scene.From the humble maize/grain porridges and root vegetables that form the basis of so many diets, to grand feasting dishes such as breyanis, tagines, stews and aromatic curries, Africa’s favorite foods offer something for every palate.Barbecued meat and maize porridge is a combination dearly beloved across many cultures in Southern Africa, and particularly in South Africa, where the braaivleis is a treasured institution and practically a national sport. “Pap en vleis” (literally, “maize porridge and meat”) is a colorful umbrella of a term that encompasses virtually any combination of starch and braaied or stewed meat, with an obligatory side-serving of spicy gravy, relish or chakalaka. Shisa nyama, meaning “burn the meat” in Zulu, has come to refer to a festive “bring-and-braai” gathering; Shisa nyama restaurants are often located next to butchers’ shops so patrons can select their own meats and have them cooked to order over fiercely hot wood fires. Chops, steak, chicken, kebabs and boerewors — a spicy farmer’s sausage — are accompanied by maize porridges in many different forms including phuthu and stywe pap, krummelpap (crumbly porridge), and suurpap (soured pap). Add a local beer, and there you have South Africa on a plate.
This article focuses on regional dishes that you might enjoy in the some of the more popular tourist destinations.