Baked in Africa: Four traditional breads to try on safari

discoverafrica 24 November 2017
Part of the South Africa Safari Collection
Back to the Our Blog

There is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread, hot out of the oven with creamy butter on standby. Maybe it’s just us, but bread reminds us of home, the smell of our grandmothers or a lazy Sunday breakfast at a local patisserie in the city.  

On safari, the last thing we think about is what we’re going to eat. The excitement of seeing wildlife and birdlife can be so overwhelming to the senses that we lose track of the old sentiments that bind us to our homes.

Perhaps if you’re lucky, your safari chef will share her secret recipe with you

Whether ‘glamping’ or enjoying a five-star lodge in the wilderness, one thing is for sure; your African hosts know how to appreciate great bread and each destination has a unique way of preparing and enjoying this staple food.

Much of African food is based on grains. These grains include millet, sorghum, corn, rice and wheat; imports from both the New and Old World as people began colonising and exploring the vast earth. It is no wonder then, that African bread bears the influence of foreign cultures. We take a look at four delicious, authentic breads that certain countries have honed over centuries and can now confidently claim as their own.

1. Diphaphata from Botswana

Botswana is a country of contradictions. From the marshlands of the Okavango and Chobe, to the Kalahari desert, wheat is not always readily available. Diphaphata however, is a bread made from imported wheat that has somehow found itself as a staple of Botswana’s cuisine. Diphaphata, though prepared in a manner similar to the English muffin, is different in that it does not have the tangy taste that the English muffin does. The Diphaphata also has a denser texture and is much faster to prepare. The bread is charred on a griddle to give it a slightly smokey flavour. The Diphaphata is dipped into a delicious stew with beans. Modern interpretations include fillings such as jams and savoury relishes.

Similar to an English muffin, the Diphaphata is a great breakfast food

2. The South African Roosterkoek

Roosterkoek is a bread that is traditionally an accompaniment to a South African barbeque (fondly referred to as a braai). In fact, many South Africans consider a ‘braai’ incomplete with a good Roosterkoek. The bread is prepared by cooking balls of bread dough on a grill over an open flame. This results in a heavy bread with a doughy centre and a smooth crust. They are best eaten hot straight off the grill with a smattering of garlic butter and cheese.


Roosterkoek is an authentic South African favourite | Credit: Yellow Papaya

3. Mozambican Pao

The Mozambican Pao is the African version of Portuguese bread rolls and are made by local village bakers. Mozambique was a colony of Portugal and the Pao was introduced into local cuisine as a result. Many visitors to Mozambique return home with happy memories of the Pao which can be bought early in the morning by the roadsides or in markets. Pao is baked by preparing a dough made of a mixture of water, yeast, sugar, flour and wheat which is placed in an oven and dusting with a generous helping of raw flour. The best way to eat this colonially influenced bread is with a generous filling of peri-peri beef or chicken.

The Pao has a crispy exterior with a soft inside | Credit: i cook different

4. Kenyan Chapati

During the colonization of Kenya, the British constructed a railway line spanning most of the country. To complete the line, the British brought in Indian laborers to assist in the effort. These Indian laborers then settled into the region and they brought with them their culture and food. Chapati is a hallmark of Indian cuisine that found new roots in Kenya.

To prepare Kenyan chapati, wheat flour is mixed into water to make dough. The dough is then made into small balls which are then spread out using roller pins to come up with the flat chapati shape and fried in a flat pan. The chapatis can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. The best Chapati is filled with spicy and aromatic curry.

The Chapati is strongly influenced by Indian roti bread

Wherever you are on safari, you can be certain that you will get to taste a variety of traditional and ethnic foods. There can’t be anything better than waking up on a crisp morning in the bushveld with a mug of hot coffee and steaming baked bread.

Some related info

Five remote places to see game in Africa

Game parks during certain times of year can become inundated with tourists itching to get a glimpse of the Big Five or a herd of migrating wildebeest. With that said there are still a host of areas which ensure the true frontier experience you are looking for is guaranteed. This might be hard to achieve but not impossible, here are five remote destinations and game lodges to enjoy a…

Go fly-fishing in the Dullstroom

For all those wonderful men and women whose passion for trout fly-fishing is fed by spending countless days in the outdoors patiently waiting for the fish to bite, Dullstroom in Mpumalanga is the fly-fishing Mecca of South Africa. Comprised of many man-made dams, stocked with both Brown and Rainbow trout species, Dullstroom offers camping facilities and affordable South African getaway…

10 reasons why you should explore the Panorama Route

One of the most popular add-on’s for travellers who have just completed a Kruger National Park safari is to explore the Panorama Route in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. Known as one of South Africa’s most scenic paths, the Panorama Route ventures through the Mpumalanga highlands, or the north-eastern section of the Great Escarpment of the Drakensberg. The Panorama Route is…

What are the most romantic destinations in Africa?

Hogsback - South Africa   Tracy Thomas Travel writer  Instagram: @trac_lee Hogsback in the Eastern Cape of South Africa is one of the most romantic destinations in Africa. We stayed at Away with the Fairies in a little cabin in the forest. Our days were spent hiking in the mountains, exploring the forests, discovering waterfalls and enjoying…

Five South African national parks to explore in 2018

South Africa is one of the most desirable travel destinations for those who are looking for something a little different in a safari. With world-class cities, a rich history spanning centuries and some of the most beautiful wildlife destinations on the planet, a safari in South Africa should inspire you to explore the differing landscape of our most valued assets; our national…

Three Famous South African Shipwrecks

Once people believed that the world was flat and it took a few brave and intrepid souls on ships with billowing sails to educate those back home about the vastness of our earth. As technology and the resulting pressures of an emerging economy began to impact our ancestors’ lives, so too did the need to expand empires and seek greener pastures. Over time, the great explorers of the time…

You Might Also Like

 | Kruger to the Mozambican coast

Kruger to the Mozambican coast

Combining the bush and the wildlife found in the famous Sabi Sand in the Kruger National Park with a tropical stay in one of the sublime lodges of Mozambique's Ponta Mamoli...

 | Luxury South Africa to Zimbabwe safari

Luxury South Africa to Zimbabwe safari

Spot the Big Five in Thornybush Private Game Reserve and enjoy the majesty of Zimbabwe's roaring Victoria Falls ...

 | Blissful 4-day Kruger Safari

Blissful 4-day Kruger Safari

Experience luxury in the Kruger Park ...

 | Luxury Cape Town and Kruger Safari

Luxury Cape Town and Kruger Safari

Explore two of South Africa's most desirable locations in this whirlwind safari tour...