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9 uniquely South African street foods

Brought to you by the Visa Street Food Festival

There are many things South Africans do right, and near the top of the list is affordable street food. Found at your local spaza or the little tent at the end of the block, these foods are easy on your pocket, satisfying to your taste buds and inherently nostalgic. Here are nine street foods only South Africans do well.

Amagwinya (vetkoek)

It could be argued that you haven’t fully experienced life until you’ve had a freshly fried golden vetkoek. A simple dough is kneaded and left to rise before being broken off into balls and deep fried. You could buy these little dumplings filled with a mince-and-veggie curry, bobotie-spiced mince, polony or just spread with some good butter. You can thank us later.

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Boerewors roll

Affectionately known as boerie rolls, these South African sausages in buns tend to be tastiest when served out of impossibly tiny trucks or tents. A fresh hotdog roll encases a perfectly braaied boerewors and is further crammed full of caramelised onions (or smoor, if you’re extra lucky). Top with a sauce of your choice (dhania, chutney and artificial tomato sauce being among the favourites) and enjoy.

Braaied mielie

It’s difficult to improve on a mielie: They’re already sweet and perfectly ready to eat. But if there’s a limit to what can be thrown on the braai, South Africans haven’t yet discovered it, so on the grill they go. The result is beautifully caramelised corn, usually with a glob of glowing butter sliding off. Yum.

Bunny chow

It’s not difficult to understand why we love bunny chows. A carb lover’s dream, this hollowed-out loaf of bread is filled with fragrant curry and served with salad or pickles on the side. You probably won’t want to eat this while roaming around, though – not because it’s not suited for it, but because you’ll want to be elbow-deep enjoying this Durban classic.

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Gatsby

If it’s not clear by now, South Africans find any type of filled bread hard to resist – especially when there are slap chips involved. This foot-long sandwich is made for sharing and is generally divided into four or three parts. Or, for two very brave souls, just cut in half. The protein is up to you; options include chicken, steak, Viennas and calamari. Paired with smatterings of salad, plenty of sauce and even more chips, this is a street food for the ages. How did this genius creation come about? We’ll leave it to Mr Pandy to explain.

Kota

The slightly less ubiquitous cousin of the bunny chow, the kota is a quarter loaf of bread (hence the name) hollowed out and filled again with a combination of additions like polony, cheese, egg, Russian sausage, atchar, slap chips and your choice of sauce. It’s low-fuss and wrapped up specifically to make it easy to eat while on the move.

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Salomie

Few things can beat a buttery flaky roti. Add a saliva-inducing curry tucked securely inside and you have a winner. Eat your salomie piping hot when you have loads of room available in your stomach.

Smiley

To be faced with an entire sheep’s head could be daunting to some, but any initial stage fright is soon gone once you get to the juicy cheek meat. Don’t be shy to dig into it with your hands and fully embrace the nose-to-tail trend.

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Walkie-talkie

A tongue-in-cheek nickname for the feet and head of a chicken, the walkie-talkie is beloved of South Africans. Well-seasoned and boiled or braaied, this delicacy can be polarising, but its fans know the crispy skin is worth it.

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Brought to you by the Visa Street Food Festival

The festivals will be taking over Side Street Studios in Woodstock, Cape Town, and Common Ground in Maboneng, Johannesburg. The night market in Cape Town will begin at 5pm on Saturday 2 September, and both Sunday markets (3 September in Woodstock and 10 September in Maboneng) will go from 9am to 4pm. Get tickets via Webtickets or win them with Eat Out.

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