26.01.2013 - 31.03.2013 25 °C
After passing through 10 countries and eating our way through each one a little bit at a time, here’s a quick recap of what each country had to offer. Don’t get me wrong, it may not be as exotic as you would hope but seriously this is some of the best and or more interesting tasting food we have experienced along the way.
Lake Navaisha – Fried Tilapia topped with maranara-esque sauce, with wilted spinach and chips
The fish was fried to almost tough but I’ve now realized that this is how most fish will be served from any vendor. Mind you I was surprised enough to see a vegetable included when it came with spinach, let alone the chips. The sauce wasn’t spicy but more tangy and somehow brought it all together.
Lake Bunyoni – Crayfish Massala with rice and sweet potato
We literally stumbled upon this little makeshift restaurant in a little village market by the lake. We were going stall to stall then John (the owner of the kitchen) invited us in to take a seat. There were only 2 items on the menu – crayfish massala and a beef stew. For $2 we enjoyed the huge serving of this gooey sweetly spiced massala. It tasted so fresh that John even told us he had caught the crayfish that morning from the lake. Delicious!
We were told that you can get some of the best seafood on this small island extension of Tanzania. However this is only partly true. When it’s done right, it’s good....when it’s overcooked, it’s bad! There were of course a couple exceptions to this.
We tried this when were staying at a hostel in the north part of the island. The calzone arrived pleasantly plump, brimming with calamari, prawns, fish and mussels, all smothered in tomato sauce and cheese. The perfect afternoon snack by the sea!
Fish Biriyani and Fried Fish Curry with Ugali
We were brought to this local restaurant by our guide. It didn’t look like much but there were loads of locals filling the tables. There were 3 menu items for each chicken, beef and fish dish. We decided on two of the fish options – Fish Biriyani and Fried Fish curry with Ugali.
The fish biriyani had nice flavour running through it, tender fish but a bit on the bony side. The rice made up for it though as it was the fluffiest rice we had to date. The fried fish curry on the other hand was a bit confusing. It was more a spicy-ish soup sauce than a curry. And the fish pieces were fried beyond death.
Zanzibar Pizza (Nightime fish market)
This small little dish is not like your regular pizza. We were told by whoever went to the Forodhani night market to try one. The guy beats this small ball of dough until stretching it paper thin. He then spreads this cheese paste across the bottom, fills it in with any toppings you like (we opted for the prawn and calamari) then tops it with an egg. It is then closed up like a parcel, brushed with ghee and placed to cook on the grill. Five minutes later the creamy ooze of egg and cheese exit the pastry into our bellies. One of the best little snacks we’ve ever had!
This little golden ball of dough might not seem like much but it sure is tasty. I happened to try this doughnut whilst I was doing the boat-walk-donkey beer run in a small village near the Okavango delta. This baseball size doughnut was moist, sweet and so easy to bite into. And it only cost 20cents!
Zimbabwe – Alligator bunny-chow
We weren’t really sure what this was when we first ordered it as our server couldn’t explain it very well. All we understood that it was something local. When it arrived on the plate it looked like not much else than a torn out piece of bread with grey pieces in an orange sauce. Looks can be deceiving, and the curry type sauce smothered the tender pieces of crocodile with all the sauce soaking into the bread. A rare bite of spice which did the trick!
Johannesburg – Kota with Achtar
This was pretty much identical to the bunny-chow served before only this had its true South African identity attached. Our kota was bought from a small vendor during our tour of Soweto and had a couple additions to make it their own. Instead of the usual curry filling soaking into the bread...chips, sausage and cheese filled it in then topped with Atchar. Atchar is similar to a mango chutney but completely different in it’s sweet-tangy-spicy taste and fine texture. Now what makes this snack so interesting it the fact it was actually inspired by the Indian community during the apartheid regime, as they were not allowed in certain shops and cafes and so the shop owners found a way of serving the people through back windows, etc. This was an easiest and most effective way to serve the workers.
Durban – Mozambique Chilli Prawns
Prawns-smawns! You would think that anybody can cook up a decent batch...well these were some of the best shelled pink crustaceans we’ve ever tasted. The prawns were cooked to such tender perfection. Then the buttery beer sauce coated each one with the right amount of smokey chilli intensity. The best part was that it came with a few pieces of pita to soak up the leftover spicy goodness!
Durban – Carpaccio of Beef and Smoked Ostrich
This is quite a tasty dish when made with the right ingredients. And this was only done half right! This dish usually consists of raw meat, fish or veg which is thinly sliced or pounded thin. Natalie ordered this as neither of us had ever tried Ostrich Carpaccio before. Sadly, the ostrich wasn’t smokey or as flavourful as expected. On the other hand, the beef was tender, juicy and very tasty.
Durban – Trio of salmon: ceviche, fried, smoked
A trio of champions! What’s not better than salmon 3 ways...a bit of citrus, butter and smoked makes for one amazing meal! Enough said.
Durban – Tikka Klipklip wrapped in filo pastry
Another first...this time trying the South African Kingklip. A distant relative of the eel family, this thick meaty white fish can be somewhat compared to cod. Only this dish was anything from ordinary. The fish was wrapped in thin filo pastry, the topped with creamy tikka sauce. It was just missing a few vegetables to make it all come together. Succulent is the only word that can describe it!
Cape Town – Largest oyster ever!
I heart oysters! And this one topped them all combined. We stumbled upon this stall in the “Victoria & Alfred” waterfront in Cape Town. This 12cm long slimy sea tasting shellfish took about a minute to open and all but 10 seconds to devour. No oyster would be complete without a bit of tabasco, lemon or red wine and shallot vinaigrette. If you are ever in SA make sure to go to the docks or to the source in the Western Cape. Best oyster ever!
Stellenbosch – Bobotie with rice and veg
The national dish of South Africa is a delicious mixture of curried mince meat and dried fruit with a creamy golden egg mixture topping. It may sound a bit odd but I was told on our wine tasting tour day that this was a traditional Afrikaans dish. And it didn’t disappoint! I broke through the soft but slightly crispy top with ease before reaching the fruity meat mixture down below. What surprising mix of flavours!
Kalk Baai – Snoek and chips
It would seem like any other fish and chips except that the snoek is only found in the waters of the southern hemisphere. It can grow up to 200cm long, weigh up to 6kg and has 2inch bones. Ouch! Luckily enough, the one you see was cut down to size to fit on my plate. When I first crunched down on the crust the fish just fell off the bone. That first bite then reminded me of the oily flavour of mackerel. Plus, you had the option of dipping the fish and chips in 3 different sauces including tartare, aioli and achtar. Thanks Dee and Errol for sharing this local gem!
Kalk Baai – Chocolate vodka martini
This is not your normal martini you get in bar...it’s a guilty sinful pleasure you will need to repeat once you tried it once! It’s everything you want but shouldn’t have. A buttery chocolate mix with vodka then topped with swirls of cream. There’s not much more to say...just drink it!
Cape Town – Amarula Ultimate Gold Chocolate Cake (Charley’s Bakery)
This was the special of the day when we went. Amarula the South African cream liqueur was mixed in instead of the usual Baileys. A dense but moist chocolate cake topped with a caramel icing then topped with gold leafing and a few rose petals. Divine is one way to describe it, disgustingly good is another!
Cape Town – Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake (Charley’s Bakery)
Now if you thought that martini was chocolate enough then be prepared for the most indulgent cake ever tasted. This chocoholics dream has 3 layers each of angel cake, mousse and ganache. What!? Exactly. It should come with a sugar induced coma warning. I can't even put a few words together to say how mouth-watering good it was.
This was some of Africa’s food in a nutshell. Obviously, there are probably quite a few dishes you have tried or tasted before only some of these have been changed to satisfy the tastes and flavours of the different regions. This of course is only a handful of the mostly amazing delicious food we tasted along the way. Sadly, we also stuffed down other foods into the deeps of our bellies before we could even take a picture. That’s enough food talk....maybe a South American blog is needed...yes that’s it!