South African Cuisine: From Africa to Balham

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Having lived in the UK for more than 10 years and now running a traditional English pub in London, we tend to miss the comforts from home. Every so...

Having lived in the UK for more than 10 years and now running a traditional English pub in London, we tend to miss the comforts from home. Every so often we whip up a South African storm in the Nightingale kitchen to tantalise the taste buds of our customers and of course enjoy ourselves.

South African cuisine is a true reflection of the country's rainbow culture and it has something for everyone. Served with tradition and surrounded by centuries of history, every meal is a celebration.

With autumn here and the evenings becoming cooler, there is nothing more tempting than the thought of tucking into a plate of comfort food packed with flavour.

These are a few of our favourite recipes which have received the thumbs-up from our customers. We hope you agree!

Bobotie - serves: 6-8

Bobotie is a spiced mince dish which can be traced back to the Eastern influence on South African culture. In 1954 it was declared the National Dish of South Africa by the UN Women's Organisation and is still one of the most popular South African dishes.


  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 sliced onions
  • 1kg of lean minced beef
  • 2 slices of stale white bread (crusts removed)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of medium curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of malt vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of seedless raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of peach or mango chutney
  • bay leaves for garnish
  • 2 medium free range eggs


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C

2. Heat oil in a medium sauté pan. Stir in the onions and cook until brown. Add the mince and cook until lightly browned and crumbly.

3. Soak the bread in half the milk, squeeze out excess milk and mash the bread with a fork. Don't throw the squeezed out milk away!

4. Add the mashed bread to the meat mixture then add curry powder, sugar, salt, pepper, turmeric, vinegar, raisins and chutney. Mix thoroughly.

5. Spoon the mixture into a greased ovenproof dish and bake for 50-60 minutes.

6. Beat the eggs with the milk (including the leftover milk from the bread) and pour over the mince approximately 25-30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Top with bay leaves.

This dish can be served hot with yellow rice or cold with a large green salad and of course lots of extra chutney. Enjoy!

Chakalaka - serves: 6-8

Chakalaka is a spicy African vegetable relish traditionally served hot or cold with bread, stews or curries. It is also fantastic as a condiment for grilled meat. It originates from the townships of Johannesburg but is eaten all over the country and enjoyed by all cultures.


  • 45ml oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 2 chopped green peppers
  • 3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons of curry powder
  • 3 grated carrots
  • 6 large diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of baked beans in tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the oil and sauté the onions, garlic, green pepper, chillies and curry powder for five minutes.

2. Add the carrots and tomatoes and cook gently for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the beans and seasoning and cook for a further 10 minutes making sure the beans don't stick to the pot.

3. While cooking, make sure the mixture becomes smooth.

Traditional melktert - serves: 6

Few South Africans can resist a slice of delicious melktert (milk tart). This is another indigenous South African favourite evolved from the egg custard pie introduced by the Dutch settlers in the early Cape colony days.

For the pastry:

  • A quarter cup of butter
  • A quarter cup of sugar
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons iced water

For the filling:

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of cake flour


1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Work in the flour and salt. Add the water and work into a soft dough. Wrap up and chill until required.


1. Bring the milk to the boil with the cinnamon stick. Combine the sugar and flour and stir into the hot milk slowly. Return to heat and cook for 15 minutes uncovered.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. When cool, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Line a 22cm tart plate with the pastry and pour the filling mixture in. 4. Bake at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered cinnamon.

This dessert is best served chilled with either cream or custard.

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