Cultural cooking: Traditional South African recipes made easy

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By Tiyani Rikhotso

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 10 of VARSITY News.


Coming out of September which celebrated diverse cultures and the importance of paying homage to our heritage, many of us might be craving and longing for well-loved and traditional South African meals.

Here are three recipes inspired by traditional favourites that are simple enough to recreate as a student. These recipes are also satisfying enough to fill cravings such as the longing for grandmothers cooking or meals that you enjoy at home and during festive seasons.


Chakalaka and chicken pasta


  • 2 chicken breasts cut into strips
  • 200g durum wheat spaghetti
  • 15ml sunflower oil
  • 10ml crushed garlic
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, grated
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 410g tin baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 350ml water
  • 1 x KNORR Mild Durban Curry Dry Cook-in-Sauce


  1. Season chicken strips generously with Robertsons Chicken Spice fry in a pan until golden brown.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water (1.2 lt water with 7.5 ml salt) to the boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente (cooked but firm to the bite) then drain and set aside
  3. Heat oil in a large pot or deep pan and fry the garlic, onion and green pepper until soft
  4. Add the tomatoes, carrots, baked beans and water and stir in the contents of the sachet of KNORR Mild Durban Curry Dry Cook-in-Sauce
  5. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat stirring frequently to prevent the chakalaka from sticking
  6. Combine the sauce with the cooked spaghetti and transfer to a serving dish. Top with chicken pieces and serve immediately


Simple butternut soup


  • 15ml margarine
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5ml Robertsons Cinnamon
  • 1kg butternut, peeled and diced
  • 750ml water
  • 1 x KNORR Vegetable Stock Pot
  • 250ml fat free yoghurt


  1. Melt margarine in a deep pot then add the onion and garlic and fry until tender
  2. Add the cinnamon and fry for 2 minutes to release the flavour and aroma then add the cubed butternut, water and KNORR Vegetable Stock Pot and stir well
  3. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the butternut is tender
  4. Remove from the heat and blend using a stick blender until smooth then stir in the yoghurt and season (to taste)
  5. If you don’t have access to a blender you can simmer the butternut for longer, adding water and then mix the softened butternut by hand for a more textured soup.
  6. Tip – for a richer, creamier taste use cream instead of yoghurt.


Phuthu and Amasi


  • 1 cup of water
  • 2-3 cups of maize meal
  • Sour milk
  • Optional: Sugar to taste if you like it sweet


  1. Bring the water to the boil in the pot and add the maize milk, stirring thoroughly with a fork until you get crumbly yet moist clumps.
  2. Leave on low heat for 15 – 20 minutes, checking on the pot and mixing briefly (make sure the stove is on low so that it doesn’t burn)
  3. Allow to cool and then mix in Amasi


Quick and easy crunchie


  • 180g margarine
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp syrup
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda


  1. Melt butter and syrup together.
  2. Add bicarbonate and stir until it froths.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in.
  4. Flatten the mixture out on a greased baking tray.
  5. Bake at 180 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool and then slice into squares
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