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TThe food terroir of KwaZulu-Natal reflects the subtropical bounty of land and sea with yields of sugar cane, citrus, bananas, mangoes, and other tropical fruit; and seafood platters piled high with east coast rock lobster, crab, king fish, mackerel, shad, kob, yellow fin tuna, and in season, sardines.
African, Indian and European food genres have all had an influence on the province’s palate, and the essence of KwaZulu-Natal food is to be found on the province’s plates in a meeting between east and west.
In the 1860s, migrants from India arrived as indentured labourers to work in the province’s sugar cane fields, and their influence can be tasted in the spices and snacks of Durban’s Victoria Street Market, and the vegetarian profusion of its Hindu temples.
The profound influence of the Indian community on the region’s food is apparent in the province’s ubiquitous Durban curry, and its most famous street food - half a loaf of bread filled with curry, known as a Bunny Chow.
Those seeking a Zulu perspective on KwaZulu-Natal's food terroir should head for Zululand, where village tours include a lunch laden with amasi (soured milk), grilled meats and dombolo (dumplings).
If it’s modern Euro-Zulu food you're after, Fordoun Spa incorporates a range of Zulu indigenous vegetables into their fine dining restaurant dishes; and their resident herbalist, and Dr Elliot Ndlovu can explain their medicinal and spiritual uses before you eat them.
Those in search of KwaZulu-Natal's colonial heritage will find it in the Midlands
a tranquil inland valley, embraced by the Drakensburg mountains. Foodie finesse reigns on the region’s English-style tea tables, and its Rhone-style wines. Here, too, at the Saturday morning Shongweni farmers’ and craft market, eat your way through the agricultural abundance of KwaZulu-Natal’s food terroir.
The Midlands, is also the heartland of KwaZulu-Natal's trout fishing industry, and a craft beer route, that sees hops lovers in pursuit of the perfect pint.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)31 366 7500
How to get here
All the main local and international airlines service Durban International Airport which is 16km from the city centre. Metrorail offers a regular train service between Durban, Johannesburg (daily) and Cape Town (weekly). Greyhound and Translux long distance coaches offer daily services to, and from, all the main cities in South Africa. The Baz Bus covers all the major cities in KwaZulu-Natal.
Best time to visit
Early autumn, winter and spring are ideal. Summers can be very hot and humid on the coast. The Indian Ocean is warm enough to swim in all year round.
Things to do
Dr Elliot Ndlovu offers a rural village tour complete with an explanation of traditional healing and dietary practices at Kwa-Malulekoes Indigenous Herb Garden and Cultural Centre. The Midlands Meander features cheese makers, micro-breweries, organic farmers, and 2 wine estates. African Hopper Tours offer a 6-day combined Clarens (Free State) and Midlands Meander tour with visits to local breweries, cheese makers and other gastronomic delights.
Buy a bunny chow and eat it in the street, and try wines from the Midlands.
What to pack
Sun protection is essential. KwaZulu-Natal is sunny virtually all year round.
Where to stay
Accommodation ranges from boutique hotels, country lodges, B&Bs, backpackers lodges, and self-catering, beach front, and farm cottages.
What to eat
A bunny chow or Durban curry is not to be missed.