Unique South African Christmas Meals


Christmas is just around the corner now, and with that comes the usual mad rush for turkey, gammon and all the usual delicacies of the traditional Christmas lunch or dinner. While it is a scrumptious affair once all the cooking is done, the preparation beforehand is a chore – including thawing out, stuffing and roasting the bird for hours on end. With Christmas occurring in the hot, summer months for those living in the southern hemisphere, why not mix things up a bit by celebrating your special day poolside with these none-too-traditional, uniquely South African dishes and recipes.

Kalahari Biltong Salad

To compensate for all the hearty meat slices, greasy roasted potatoes and rich desserts, a healthy salad is in order. No, we are not talking about a boring greek or garden with all the usual trimmings, but a proudly South African Kalahari Biltong Salad.

To feed six people here’s what you’ll need:

For the vinaigrette:

  • 30 ml chopped spring onion
  • 30 ml fresh oregano
  • 250 ml sugar
  • 200 ml olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 30 ml fresh parsley
  • 5 ml mustard powder
  • 100 ml vinegar (white balsamic preferably)

Salad ingredients:
250-grams very moist,thinly sliced biltong or smoked beef
125-grams feta cheese,cubed
Two firm, ripe avocadoes, sliced
One frilly lettuce
One papaya, sliced
100-grams bean sprouts
One bunch of rocket


Liquidize your ingredients for the vinaigrette and mix well.

Cover your biltong slices with half the vinaigrette and refrigerate until required

Compile your salad in any artful way that you see fit and lightly sprinkle with the dressing

Place your marinated biltong pieces on top, and your salad is ready to be enjoyed!

Roasted potatoes with biltong
roast potatoes

Even if you’re the strictest banter, you can’t decline a roasted potato when it’s handed to you. Furthermore, as a South African, it’s a travesty to not enjoy a few pieces of dried meat while watching a game of rugby or at a social event. So imagine what a roasted potatoes dusted in biltong may taste like.

Here’s what you need to make this delightful South African dish:

  • Ten medium size potatoes
  • 150ml cooking oil
  • 100-grams butter
  • 55-grams brown onion soup packet
  • 100-grams grated or powdered biltong


Peel and par-boil your potatoes, or until they’re half-cooked. While boiling, melt butter and mix in with oil and brown onion soup powder. Sprinkle half of the powdered biltong into the mixture, and set the other half to the side.

Grease a medium-sized glass or pyrex baking dish and place the potatoes inside. Make small pricks all over the potatoes with a fork, and then douse them with the biltong and oil mixture.

Roast your potatoes for about an hour, or until they appear golden brown. Halfway through cooking time, re-baste the potatoes if so desired.

Dust the remaining biltong on your potatoes, and tuck in!

Crayfish on the Weber

If you’re a lover of shellfish and looking to stray away from meat, then why not fry them up on the old weber? You’ll get to enjoy a fancy, festive treat while relaxing on a deck chair by the water’s edge.

For a feast that serves eight people, here’s what you’ll need ingredients-wise:

  • Four whole crayfish (about 600g each)
  • The juice of six limes (roughly 80ml), and the zest of two limes
  • 120-grams of treacle sugar
  • two teaspoons of fish sauce
  • 100ml soy sauce
  • Two red chillies, de-seeded and chopped finely
    A handful of basil leaves


First blend the lime juice, zest, treacle sugar and fish and soy sauce together, and place the mixture on medium heat (this is all the kitchen work that you’ll be doing).

Allow the sauce to boil before taking it off the heat, and start preparing the crayfish. The crayfish should be dead before they’re placed on the weber to prevent the meat from toughening and it is a more humane means of killing.

Halve each crayfish with a sharp knife – cutting from the back of the head right through to the tail. Remove the innards, rinse, and pat dry.

Get your braai to a medium heat, before placing the crayfish flesh side down on the grid. Cook the flesh for approximately five minutes before turning it over to cook the other side – cover it with some of the fish basting sauce.

Once done, remove the crayfish from the braai and smother it in the remaining fish sauce. To add seasoning and spice to your meal, sprinkle the basil leaves and chillies over.

Brandy and coke glazed gammon

While gammon is not an unusual meal to cook for a Christmas day meal, what makes it different is its glazing. In true South African fashion, the gammon is basted with klippies and coke, or for our international readers, brandy and coca cola. Being a popular drink enjoyed year-round, especially during the festive season, the combination of the much-loved meat and drink is incredibly tantalising.
Coca-Cola makes an excellent glazing liquid because of its molten stickiness and its cinnamon aroma and taste. While the brandy gives the dish a bit of a boozy kick!

This festive feast will feed between eight to ten hungry mouths, here’s what you’ll need to prepare this punchy meal.

For the gammon:

  • A large gammon, weighing between 2.5 kg and 3 kg
  • One can (330 ml) ginger ale or beer
  • One bottle (330 ml) of your favourite beer
  • Two whole star anise
  • Three bay leaves
  • Three whole cloves
  • One large onion, peeled and quartered
  • One thumb-length quill of cinnamon
  • A quarter of a grated nutmeg
  • One teaspoon (5 ml) whole black peppercorns
  • Water, to cover
  • Whole cloves, to stud the gammon

For the glaze:

  • One can (330 ml) Coca-Cola
  • Four teaspoons of (20 ml) Dijon mustard
  • One teaspoon of (5 ml) hot English mustard powder
  • 100 ml brown sugar
  • One teaspoon (5 ml) good instant coffee
  • One tablespoon of (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Three tablespoons (45 ml) brandy (Klipdrift, if you want to be authentic)


Throw together your gammon, ginger ale, beer, star anise, bay leaves, cloves, onion, cinnamon, mace and peppercorns into a large, deep-set pot. Add just enough water to cover the meat, and bring to the boil. Let the dish simmer for a time frame of 30-55 minutes.

Leave the gammon submerged in the water to cool down completely – for optimum results boil the meat the day before, and leave it overnight.

For the basting, pour the coca cola into a shallow pan or wok and allow the liquid to bubble briskly until its quantity has been reduced by half. While whisking in your Dijon mustard, the mustard powder, the sugar and the coffee, increase your heat and swiftly stir for about 5-7 minutes, or until your liquid becomes syrupy in consistency. Then, add your lemon juice and brandy.

After de-rinding your gammon, place it in a roasting pan while lathering the meat in the basting. Place the pan in an oven and cook for approximately 20-30 minutes (at a temperature of 220 degrees Celsius, or as hot as your oven can go). Every four to five  minutes trickle the basting sauce over the meat for maximum flavour. Over time the glaze will thicken to a mahogany-brown sticky crust – don’t overcook as the glaze will burn. Once you see that crust, take your pan out of the oven and allow for the meat to cool for ten minutes before serving.

Chocolate and Amarula trifle

Amarula is another popular drink among the locals, to be savoured after a long day at work. Switch up the usual Christmas treat of soggy swiss roll and custard with some rich chocolate and the creamy-goodness that serves as Amarula.

To make this decadent delight, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 20 x 20cm square of chocolate cake(the better quality the cake, the nicer the trifle)
  • Two flake pieces (or more if you’re a chocolate lover!)
  • 500 ml whipped cream
  • A varied assortment or nuts – recommended are walnuts or flaked almonds
  • two tots of Amarula
  • cherries, if  desired
  • One litre of chilled custard


Cut the cake into small-sized chunks and place them in a glass bowl, forming the first layer.

Slather the cake in oozing dollops of custards and one tot of Amarula – forming the second layer of the trifle.

Add your solid whipped cream on top of the custard in blobs. To ensure that your layers are well defined, work from the outside in. Sprinkle a handful of roughly chopped nuts over the cream as well as crumbly pieces of flake.

Repeat the layers, starting with the chopped-up cake, and ending off with sprinklings of nuts and flake.

If you know of any unique South African recipes  that you’d like to share, please comment below.

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