Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
3 minute read
23 Sep 2021
3:54 pm

Heritage Day dishes close to the heart

Sandisiwe Mbhele

We share some of SA's favourite Heritage Day dishes that bring a sense of nostalgia.

Heritage Day dishes close to the heart. Picture: iStock

There is something special about celebrating your roots in the kitchen. For many people Heritage Day is not just about the cultural celebrations but how food enhances our heritage.

What better way to mark Heritage Day celebrations with some of The Citizen journalists and South Africans sharing their favourite local dishes that have beautiful memories attached to them.

Our versatile dough

Kaunda Selisho says her favourite Heritage Day dish has to be dough.

“That is because it is very versatile – it can be bread, it can be dumplings, it can become vetkoeks or ujeqe (steamed bread) and a range of other yummy things that South Africans and other people from Africa enjoy.

Dumplings are African loved home steamed bread. Picture: iStock

“It can be paired with a range of delicious dishes from regions around the world, such as stew or curry, and it always gives the taste of ‘home’,” she says.

Grandma’s samp and beans

Journalist Anastasi Mokgobu says the South African staple of samp and beans is rooted in her upbringing.

“Growing up, my granny used to work at a bean farm and we literally had a bunch of them at home, meaning we had to learn various ways of cooking them without feeling like we are eating the same thing every day.

“And we found different recipes, so these days, eating beans and samp is the closest thing to home, since I am far away from my parents. So because of beans, I started to love all kinds of legumes when I stopped eating meat.”

ALSO READ: 15 delicious Heritage Day recipe ideas that will impress

Due to this, Mokgobu eats beans at least once a week. “Either in a soup, in a salad, in a sandwich, grilled, baked or even traditionally boiled. On the weekends, when I am not working, that’s when I have time to cook beans and more beans,” she says.

Journalist Anastasi Mokgobu’s samp and beans. Picture: Anastasi Mokgobu

Fellow journalist Lerato Maimela is also a fan of this beloved local dish. “My aunt has been making it for years. It’s very comforting. It reminds me of her love and her warmth.”

Sorghum sour porridge

South Africans generally like to start their days right and breakfasts are more on the savoury side. Traditional breakfasts in SA include pap porridge, sour sorghum porridge (Mabele), fried eggs on toast and much more. Refentse Makgamatha loves sour sorghum porridge with slow-cooked beef stew – shotlo.

“The sourness from the porridge together with the lightly-salted beef stew which falls off the bone just creates magic in my mouth,” she said.

Many recipes are available online and the porridge is quite versatile.

Ouma’s sweet pumpkin pie

Chantelle van Wyk loves anything sweet and says her grandmother’s pumpkin pie is “simply the best”.

“What makes it special is the amount of love you can taste in it. It’s so sweet and so smooth. The colour is appetising and the texture is perfect. I can never recreate her recipe, she just has a special touch. It’s a true Ouma’s special pumpkin situation.”

She adds that the dish warms her heart and brings much happiness to her stomach.

ALSO READ: Biryani – ‘The dish’ to serve on all best and auspicious occasions


Personally, a local dish that brings me the most joy, is uphuthu, also known as ugali. It is made with maize meal, has a fluffy, crumbly like texture, and can be eaten from early in the morning to the evening. It’s great with any stews, beans, or side salads but my favourite way to eat it is with amasi – sour milk.

No sugar or cream necessary!