South African
cuisine history

info you can trust


South African
cuisine history
influences in brief

South African cuisine as we know it today evolved over many centuries.


Before the Europeans arrived, the main sources of food for the indigenous peoples were hunting and gathering, shellfish retrieving, and basic herding.

Dutch and French

In the 1650s, Dutch settlers created farms and infused their homeland's cooking traditions into the culinary pot. So did the French Huguenots about a generation later.

Cape Malays

In the late 1600s, the Cape Malays became another major culinary influence - and some say the biggest of all. They were slaves brought by the Europeans from the Malaysian peninsula area to toil on the farms. The Cape Malays introduced spicy foods to the previously bland South African diet.


In the early 1800s, the British wrenched control of the land and, to some degree, added their input to the culinary mix.


Soon thereafter, the British imported Indians as indentured workers to tend sugarcane plantations. Indian cooking - which is richly complex like the Malays' but even spicier - became one of the crown jewels of South African cuisine.

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