When visiting Namibia, Namibian cuisine is most likely a second thought. I personally do not know of anyone that has traveled to Namibia purely for the food. That’s not saying the food isn’t good, it’s actually quite great in fact, but the natural beauty of this country drives so many people to it that the food often becomes a rather tasty surprise. To make it an even tastier surprise, you’re going to want to look for a few things. Let’s look at what to eat in Namibia.
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When it comes to Namibian food, you’ll be spoilt for choice if you’re not a vegetarian. Whilst you will find options for vegetarians in most restaurants, the population as a whole is more meat orientated.
The cattle in Namibia graze on the grass found in the wide-open savannahs. This leaves them free from antibiotics, hormones & other harmful substances that could be found in other more populated countries. It’s not just the cows though, the same can be said for lamb, goats & the plentiful game found in Namibia.
Now whilst Namibia is a meat-eaters paradise, lodges & restaurants usually have at least one vegetarian option on the menu. Normally a pasta of some sort, but be sure to check with them when you make a reservation.
A braai is like a BBQ, but it isn’t… and don’t you dare call it a BBQ in Namibia. Namibians do not BBQ; they braai… and they braai as often as possible.
Namibian *braais tend to be long, and usually feature lots of the Namibian award-winning beers, along with plenty of meat and a sprinkling of salad, mostly for roughage.
The same can be said about braais in South Africa. There was a stage where we were braaing 5 times a week, we even tried braaing a pizza! Let’s just say we won’t be trying that again anytime soon. 😉
*Braai – Can be referred to as the grid & fireplace used to cook meat usually outside, or the social gathering when you ‘have a braai’.
Things you will typically find with and by a braai
- Lamb Chops
- Boerewors (Sausage)
- Mielies (Grilled Corn)
- Skilpadjies/Pofadders – Lamb Livers, sometimes wrapped in bacon.
- Garlic Bread, ofcourse.
- Some kind of salad, like a green salad or potato salad.
- Braaid and stuffed Portabella mushrooms.
- Biltong & Droëwors – Typical Namibian Padkos, travel food. The dried meat and sausage is a must have for every Namibian. It serves basically as an apetizer or starter at a braai. I’ve yet to meet a Namibian that would choose chips over Biltong. 😉
One of my favorite foods to eat outdoors is definitely Potjiekos. This is a stew that is made in a large three-legged cast-iron pot, the Potjie. Heated with wood and charcoal & left to cook.
A good potjiekos has to cook the whole day and is made with meat, peaches, potato, other vegetables, chutney, wine, etc. It is truly delicious. At the end of the day you enjoy the Potjie with rice, cous-cous, Mielie pap (porridge from maize) or simply potatoes.
Every family tends to have their own secret potjiekos recipe.
Now, this is a must for everyone with a sweet tooth. Or as my mom would say, ‘suikerbekkies‘ (a sunbird that eats honey).
It is a very sweet pastry that is fried in oil and covered in syrup.
You can then either freeze them, and eat them ice-cold, or enjoy them warm.
Caution: It can be more addictive than coffee! 😉
This grilled meat can be enjoyed at the local street markets. It is typically thin, spicy & cooked on an open flame.
It might be for everyone, but it is for sure another interesting food to try at the local markets.
Does it taste like chicken? Hmmm, not so sure myself, what do you think? 😉
These mushrooms are huge! Seriously, some can even be over a kilogram in weight… and you thought the meat dishes in Namibia are big!
You’ll only find Omajovas during the rainy season though, around the end of February onwards. It is a good dish to try for vegetarians.
Head north of Okahandja and keep your eyes peeled to the bottom of the giant termite hills.
You may have more luck finding them at stands along the sides of the roads towards Karibib or Tsumeb though. Many locals harvest these massive mushrooms and sell them at roadside stalls to generate some income for their families.
One of the harder-to-find delicacies would be the Kalahari truffle. Much like the name suggests, this is a truffle found in the desert sands of the Kalahari.
Whilst they may be quite hard to find on your own, if you’re in the northeastern parts of the country in April-May, you may be in luck.
Check the roadside stalls for these truffles and you’ll be shocked at how cheap they can be if you compare it to the truffles in Europe. 😉
A Bushman Fondue is basically a regular fondue but on steroids!
Using a Potjie as a fondue pot, over an open fire with large pieces of meat. Usually, game, like giraffe, crocodile, gemsbok but also beef can be fondued.
This delicious bread is made with over-ripened bananas and can be eaten as breakfast but also as a cake with an afternoon cup of coffee.
Beskuit is the Afrikaans version of Rusks. Also enjoyed as breakfast or as a late afternoon snack to a cup of tea.
In other cultures it might be bad manners to dunk your biscuit into your coffee, but if you are in Namibia feel free to dip your beskuit into your coffee or Rooibos tea.
What to drink with your food
- Rock Shandy – Lemonade, soda water & bitters. It is so good and refreshing.
- Beer Shandy – Beer & lemonade.
- Brandy Coke – Coca Cola & brandy.
- Rooibos Tea – Tea made from South African fynbos. You can enjoy it with milk and sugar or just like that.
- Dom Pedro – Ice Cream & Kahlua. It is usually ordered as a dessert after you enjoyed you main meal. (You can also make it with Amarula or Frangelico instead of Kahlua.)
Make your own Dom Pedro with this recipe.
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Have you tried any of these Namibian delicacies? Let us know how you liked them in the comments down below. 😊