A wooden bowl filled with vegetables of different sorts.

South African Vegetarian Recipes – Easy To Prepare Meals

Don’t get me wrong; I love my meat. But sometimes, it’s nice to change things up a bit. I’m not a vegetarian myself, but I have to admit that I do enjoy a good veggie meal every now and then.

And South Africa is the perfect place to find them – we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to amazing vegetarian dishes! In this article, I’ve collected some of my favorites for you to try. Whether you’re looking for something hearty and filling, or something light and refreshing, I’m sure you’ll find something that suits your taste buds here.

So what are you waiting for? Dig in!

South African Vegetarian Recipes

South African cuisine is known for its bold flavors and vibrant colors. While meat is often the star of the show, there are plenty of delicious vegetarian recipes to be found in this diverse country. One popular dish is Pannekoek, a type of batter bread that is often eaten as a snack or side dish.

For something a little heartier, try Sosaties, skewers of root vegetables and fruit that are grilled or roasted. Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be boring, and these South African recipes are proof of that!

1. Vegan Bobotie

A south african bobotie prepared in a casserole dish, with bay leaves spread over the top.

Bobotie is a traditional South African recipe dish that can easily be made vegan. This dish is not only delicious but it is also packed with nutrients. Bobotie is a low-fat, low-calorie meal that will leave you feeling satisfied and energized. Plus, it’s quick and easy to make! Whether you’re vegan or simply looking for a healthy, hearty meal, bobotie is the perfect dish for you.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. x olive oil
  • 1 x onion, diced
  • 4 x cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp x curry powder
  • 1 tsp x turmeric
  • 1 tsp x ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp x ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp x ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp x ground coriander
  • 1 x (15-ounce) can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp. x all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. x raisins
  • 2 tbsp. x apricot jam or preserves
  • 1 tbsp. x apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp x salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups x cooked basmati rice, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and coriander. Cook for 1 minute longer.
  3. Pour in coconut milk and whisk in flour until no lumps remain. Stir in raisins, apricot jam, apple cider vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Spread mixture into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish or individual ramekins. Bake until bubbly and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Serve over cooked basmati rice, if desired.

2. Instant Pot Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries placed in a black bowl, on a sheet of paper with a small bowl of tomato sauce on the side.

There’s nothing quite like a basket of hot, crispy French fries especially the French fries you cook from frozen. And while there’s no shortage of fast food places that will happily sell you a greasy bag of them, why not make a healthy alternative at your own at home? With the use of an Instant Pot, it’s easy to whip up a batch of delicious sweet potato fries.

Ingredients

  • 2 x large sweet potato, peeled and cut into fries
  • 2-3 tbsp. x olive oil
  • 1tsp x salt
  • ½ tsp x black pepper
  • ½ tsp x garlic powder

Instructions

  1. To start, add the sweet potato fries to the Instant Pot. Then, drizzle on the olive oil and sprinkle on the salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Give everything a good stir so that the seasoning is evenly distributed.
  2. Next, set the Instant Pot to cook on “manual” mode for 5 minutes. Once the timer goes off, carefully release the pressure and open the lid.
  3. At this point, you could stop and enjoy your sweet potato fries as is.
  4. But if you want that extra crispy finish, go ahead and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
  5. Then, place them under the broiler/oven grill for 2-3 minutes until they’re nice and golden brown.
  6. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

3. South African Pannekoek

A few south african pannekoek stacked on top of each other, with a wooden fork on its top.

South African pannekoek is a type of fried bread that is popular in South Africa [1]. It is made from flour, water, milk, sugar, and eggs, and is usually served with syrup or honey. Pannekoek is typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack and can be found at most South African supermarkets.

There are many different ways to enjoy pannekoek. Some people prefer to eat it plain, while others like to top it with fruit or savory toppings. No matter how you enjoy it, pannekoek is a delicious and unique part of South African culture.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup x all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp x baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp x salt
  • 1 x egg
  • 1/2 cup x milk
  • 3 tbsp. x butter, melted
  • Syrup or honey, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and milk.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter.
  5. Once melted, add batter to the skillet, 1/4 cup at a time. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown.
  6. Serve warm with syrup or honey, if desired.

4. South African Yellow Rice

A bowl of yellow rice with a few cashew nuts and raisons sprinkled over the top.

This rice is named for its yellow color, which is created by adding turmeric to the cooking water. South African yellow rice has a nutty flavor and a fluffy texture. In addition to being delicious, this yellow rice is also nutritious. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iron and folate. The key to making perfect yellow rice is to cook the rice in chicken broth instead of water.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp x olive oil
  • 1 x onion, diced
  • 1 x gloves, mashed garlic
  • 2 cups x long-grain rice
  • 4 cups x chicken broth
  • 1 tsp x turmeric
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until they are softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add rice and stir to coat with oil, sauté for a few minutes more.
  4. Add the chicken (or vegetable) broth, (salt & pepper to taste) and bring to a boil.
  5. Add turmeric and stir to combine.
  6. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender and cooked through.
  7. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

5. Cauliflower Wings

A plate of cauliflower wings with a few sticks of celery and a small bowl of mayonnaise.

These cauliflower wings are the perfect appetizer or main dish for any occasion. They are delicious, low-carbs alternative to traditional chicken wings. They are perfect for game day snacking or as an appetizer for a party. They are crispy, gluten-free, and full of flavor. Cauliflower wings can be enjoyed plain or with your favorite dipping sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 x head of cauliflower, cut into wing-sized pieces
  • 1 cup x all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp x garlic powder
  • 1 tsp x paprika
  • 1/2 tsp x salt
  • 1/4 tsp x black pepper
  • 1 cup x milk
  • 2 tbsp. x sauce of choice (2 tbsp. x hot sauce optional), vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pour milk into a shallow bowl.
  4. Dip cauliflower pieces in milk, then coat with the flour mixture. 
  5. Place cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together (optional: hot sauce) sauce of choice and vegetable oil.
  7. Brush the hot sauce mixture over the cauliflower wings.
  8. Serve immediately.

South African Vegetarian Curry Recipes

A fragrant, spiced South African vegetarian curry is a perfect way to spice up your meatless Monday. There are many different ways to make a curry, but the most important elements are the spices. A typical South African spice blend includes cumin, coriander, and turmeric, chili powder, and Garam masala.

To make your curry extra flavorful, try toasting the spices in a dry non-stick pan before adding them to the pot.  I also like to stir in coconut milk at the end then cook for a few minutes more then serve over rice or quinoa.

1. Sugar Beans Curry with Potatoes Recipe – Instant Pot Method

A copper bowl filled with a sugar bean curry, sprinkled with coriander.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. x oil
  • 1 x onion, chopped
  • 4 x cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp x grated ginger
  • 1 tsp x ground cumin
  • 1 tsp x ground coriander
  • 1 tsp x turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp x ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp x ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp x ground cloves
  • 3 cups x cooked sugar beans
  • 2 cups x potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 can x (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup x water
  • 1 tbsp. x honey
  • 2 tbsp. x tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup x chopped fresh cilantro leaves salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Use an Instant Pot to heat the oil on the sauté setting.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
  3. Sauté for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the sugar beans, potatoes, and diced tomatoes with their juice, water, honey, and tomato paste.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Close the lid and set the valve to sealing.
  7. Cook on the manual setting for 10 minutes.
  8. When the time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
  9. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

2. Curried Lentils with Butternut Squash Recipe

Butternut lentil soup is another one of the famous South African vegetarian recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. x olive oil
  • 1 x onion, diced
  • 4 x cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp x grated ginger
  • 1 tsp x ground cumin
  • 1 tsp x ground coriander
  • 1 tsp x turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp x ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp x ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 cups x cooked lentils
  • 2 cups x butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 can x (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup x water
  • 1 tbsp. x honey
  • 2 tbsp. x tomato paste1/4 cup x chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.
  3. Sauté for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the lentils, butternut squash, and diced tomatoes with their juice, water, honey, and tomato paste.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  7. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

South African Vegetable Side Dishes

Grain and vegetables is a staple of the South African diet. The most common grain is maize, while the most popular vegetables include squash, tomatoes, onions, and green beans. South Africans enjoy a wide variety of side dishes made with these ingredients, including roasted vegetables, grilled corn, and stewed tomatoes.

One of the most iconic South African dishes is “potjiekos,” a stew made with meat, vegetables, and spices. Potjiekos is traditionally cooked in a cast-iron pot over an open fire, giving it a smoky flavor that is unique to South Africa.

1. Roasted Butternut with Garlic

Roasted butternut with garlic.

Ingredients

  • 1 x butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 4 x cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. x olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the butternut squash, garlic, and olive oil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.

2. Maize and Tomato Salad

Maize and tomato salad with cilantro served on a light blue plate.

Ingredients

  • 4 x ears of corn, grilled or roasted
  • 3 x tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 x onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup x chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp. x olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the corn, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Vegetable Comfort Food Recipe

Comfort foods have a special place in our hearts (and stomachs). They remind us of happy times, provide us with a sense of comfort, and can be made relatively quickly and easily. While traditional South African comfort food tend to be high in calories and fat, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious vegetable-based options that can fit into any comfort-food lover’s repertoire.

Potato-based dishes like mashed potatoes and shepherd’s pie are comforting and filling, while lighter fare like roasted vegetables and salads can provide a welcome respite from heavy comfort foods. Whatever your preference, there are plenty of ways to enjoy vegetable based comfort food without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

1. Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin

Sweet potato and squash recipe, served with a dash of cream.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. x butter
  • 2 tbsp. x all purpose flour
  • 1 cup x milk
  • 1/4 tsp x nutmeg
  • 3 cups x diced squash
  • 3 cups x peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup x  chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.
  3. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Whisk in the milk and continue cooking until thickened.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add nutmeg.
  6. Spread half of the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  7. Layer with the squash, sweet potatoes, and parsley leaves. Repeat the layers.
  8. Pour the remaining milk mixture over top.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

2. Roasted Root Vegetable Salad

A mixture of root vegetables on a back plate, placed on a wooden table.

Ingredients

  • 1 x pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1x pound parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 x pound turnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp. x olive oil
  • 1/4 cup x balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup x chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the carrots, parsnips, turnips, and olive oil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are fork-tender.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and parsley leaves.
  6. Drizzle over the roasted vegetables and serve.

Wrapping up: South African Vegetarian Recipes

If you are ever feeling stuck in a rut, or like you need some new meal ideas, remember that there are so many delicious vegetarian recipes out there waiting to be discovered. And even if you’re not a vegetarian, these meat-free meals might just surprise you with how flavorful and satisfying they can be.

So next time you find yourself driving down the highway of life and feeling like you’re in a food rut, consider giving one of these mouth-watering South African vegetarian recipes a try.

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Charlene Gallant

Charlene is a lover of good food. She enjoys nothing more than cooking up a storm in the kitchen and sharing her favourite recipes with her readers. She also enjoys reading a good book.

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