South African cuisine represents a variety of flavours and influences from all over the world. Trying traditional fast food dishes will become a unique culinary experience for anyone, as it offers several options catering to various tastes. Let’s explore the diverse world of South African fast food: a fusion of local ingredients and international influences. Here’s our top10!
Fried chicken in South Africa holds a special place in the nation’s culinary landscape. While globally known chains like KFC have a significant presence, the country also boasts its own array of beloved fried chicken establishments, each offering a unique take on this crispy, flavourful delight. Chicken Licken is a popular fast-food chain in South Africa known for its affordable menu prices and delicious options.
Long story short: The Gatsby is a true feast on bread. It’s typically made with a long bread roll filled with various fillings such as steak, chicken, polony (a soft-textured sausage typically made of pork and beef) or fish and topped with French fries, vegetables, sauces and other accompaniments. The Gatsby is best enjoyed at local takeaways and casual eateries.
One of South Africa’s most iconic fast foods, Bunny Chow is a flavourful and satisfying dish that originated in Durban. It consists of a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry, typically chicken, beef, or vegetable. The curry seeps into the bread, creating a delicious meal. For an authentic experience, head to the streets of Durban, where local eateries and food stalls serve this beloved dish.
Boerewors, a traditional South African sausage made with a blend of spices and beef, is an absolute favourite across the nation. Boerewors roll (or “boerie roll”) is usually a hot dog bun served with the delicious sausage that is grilled and topped with tomato and onion relish (salsa). Head to local markets, food trucks, or even braais (barbecues) to savour this popular fast food delight.
Vetkoek, meaning “fat cake,” is a fried dough bread popular in South Africa. It can be served sweet or savoury, with fillings like minced curry, cheese, or jam. This delicious treat is widely available at roadside stalls, markets, and even some fast-food outlets.
Similar to a Bunny Chow, the Kota is a quarter loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with various ingredients like polony, chips, and atchar (spicy condiment, often eaten with curry). This fast food option is a staple in townships and can be found at local kota vendors.
A chip roll in South Africa is a simple yet beloved street food classic. It’s a soft, white bread roll stuffed with hot, crispy slap-chips (french fries), often served with a variety of condiments and sauces. The chip roll is a popular go-to meal, especially among locals seeking a quick and satisfying snack on the go.
Fish and chips
Fish and chips is a quintessential and much-loved dish in South Africa, just as it is in many other parts of the world. It typically consists of crispy, battered or breaded fish served alongside chunky potato chips, often accompanied by condiments such as tartar sauce or vinegar.
A samoosa, also spelled as samosa, is a popular snack in South Africa. This savoury treat has its origins in Indian cuisine but has been embraced and adapted with local flavours, becoming an integral part of South African cuisine. The samoosa consists of a crispy, triangular-shaped pastry shell filled with various savoury ingredients and spices, making it a versatile and flavoursome snack.
Pastry pies in South Africa are a big part of the nation’s culinary scene, offering a delightful array of savoury and sweet flavours in a flaky, buttery crust. South African pastry pies come with a variety of fillings. Savory options might include minced meat, steak and kidney, chicken, curried vegetables, or even cheese and onion. Sweet fillings could feature fruits like apples, pears, or even a milk tart-inspired custard.
South African fast food offers a unique journey through the nation’s rich culinary heritage. Whether you’re searching for a quick, delicious meal or hoping to explore traditional flavours, these dishes provide a wonderful introduction to South Africa’s diverse fast food culture.