Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Durban, South Africa
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Durban's very cosmopolitan population is reflected in its food. Denizens of KZN are called 'banana boys' and although bananas are grown here, many more are grown in other parts of South Africa. The food that Durban is most famous for is that which has been inherited from its Indian people.
Most Indians arrived as indentured labourers to the sugar cane fields in the 1860s. Others arrived to set up business in the province and many of those who had finished their term in the cane fields also set up shop. Of course, all their spices were brought with them and the climate was conducive to year round growing and thus the cuisine of India (mainly South India) was maintained.
So, if you like curries, birianis and other spicy delicacies, then come to Durban. This short list shows some commonly available foods and their local names.
This dish was invented in Durban and remains very popular with a large sector of the population. In the 1940s in the Grey St. (Indian) area of Durban, there was a dining establishment that went by the ornate name of Kapitan's Vegetarian Eating House.
Apartheid prevented Africans from entering the restaurant and so they were served onto the pavement through a serving hatch. The usual staple was a pennorth' of bread and beans but there was no such thing as styrofoam and so instead, a half loaf was hollowed out and filled with bean curry - which was extremely nourishing.
Bunny chow is typically made of white bread and bean curry but nowadays it comes with a variety of curried fillings at a price of around 80p. Whilst a half loaf would be filled with curry, it is now more common to see a quarter loaf. One also has to make sure that enough bread is scooped out to give a good filling.
It is also possible to buy the ultimate - a full hollowed out loaf filled with curry - the coffin bunny! The bread of course has to be fresh and the wrapping of the bunny is quite an art in itself. The curry has to be really juicy otherwise the last part of the bunny is very dry.
You cannot just eat a bunny - there is a distinct protocol. Simply sticking it up against your face is just not on. First, the bread plug on top has to be eaten, dunking in the gravy and then the bread shell is slowly broken and eaten with the filling using the hands.
These are a favorite pavement treats along with samoosas (below). They are small balls of deep fried chick pea flour with pieces of chillie. They don't have too much taste but they can be very hot!
Identical to the English version - 'samosas'. Triangular thin pastry packets containing either spicy mince or potato. Cheese and chicken versions are also available. Price around 10p.
Again, similar to the English breyani. Rice with lentils, potatoes and a little meat. Often served in its vegetarian form at Indian weddings with yoghurt/cucumber.
Boerewors sausage (lit: Farmer's Sausage) in a long roll with some sauce on top. Purveyors are often smelt before being seen - mostly on Saturdays although they may be encountered in shopping centre car parks. Boerwors comes in different flavours - curry, garlic, spicy, cheese etc.
Found most times as a topping for the boerie roll. There are as many versions as there are Indian mothers in Durban. They range from the fruity, to the bitter, to the no taste at all. But beware, they may be very hot and you will be paying for it long after your visit has finished. Stay away from those that are overly red with artificial colour.
The usual chillie found in Durban is the Cayenne type which is medium hot on the chillie Richter scale. However, others have been appearing lately from the long pale green mild hot wax pepper to the blistering habanero. Beware the very tiny 'bird peppers' - they're gunpowder.
The great South African institution (short for braaivleis - Afrikaans: roast meat). The time when the women get together to complain about the hired help/the babies/the family or whatever and the men get the chance to male bond and complain about the rugby and boast about their cars.
Essentially its a barbecue with boerewors, steaks, chops, fish or even meat balls. South African males each have their own way of braaing and do not brook criticism lightly. Not only does the right wood have to be used but some afficionados have been known to choose the right beast to be slaughtered for the weekend braai. Other things thrown into the coals are potatoes and onions. Served with garlic bread and salads.
Afrikaans for 'little pot food' (poykie kos), this has become popular over recent years. A 'potjie' consists largely of a casserole whose ingredients have been carefully chosen and layered in a three legged cast iron pot and slowly cooked over an open fire.
The beauty of curries is that they are so full of the nuances of subtle flavours that no two are alike. The curries of South Africa are very different to those eaten overseas and should not be avoided simply because they are called curries. Served with sambals - lime/mango/brinjal pickle, chutney, coconut etc. but almost always including a tomato/onion/chillie (beware) sambal.
Dhania and Curry Leaves
Dhania is more commonly known as coriander/cilantro but is much stronger in South Africa than either the US or Europe. It is used often as a garnish on curry, as part of mint chutney or mixed with mince as kebabs (meat balls). Curry leaves have a strong musky fragrance and are used as an integral part of the curry.
An innocuous green paste eaten with curries as a sambal (side pickle). Beware, it may well end up reaming your colon.
Little known in Europe and the US, periperi is a Portuguese/Moçambican chilli sauce that may be fruity and spicy or will be guaranteed to take your tonsils down with it. It is usually combined with chicken/prawns to make a tasty meal.
Pronounced "Pootoo", this is a dry maize porridge eaten with meat and stews.
Puri and Patha
A delicious sandwich made from rolled up, spiced, fried madumbe leaves (patha) between two purris (thin, fried pastry discs). Try them at Govinda's at the Temple of Understanding in Chatsworth.
The fishing is excellent around Durban with specialities including shad and grunter. The annual sardine run in July yields large numbers of game fish such as barracuda.
Chicken heads and chicken feet - very popular in the townships.
A wide variety of fruits is available most of the year - avocados, mangoes, grenadillas, pineapples and the delicious litchis.