authentic italian flavor in dishes

When you think about pasta, cream, truffles, cheese—the last thing that probably comes to mind is traditional South African food. But Italian cuisine and South African dishes have more in common than you think. Both have a tradition rich in vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, and dairy.

We think blending Italian and South African flavours is daring, but the payoff is worth it. Two cultures with their own unique tastes combined to make new out-of-this-world dishes? Yes, please!


Here are some classic South African foods with an Italian twist, fused to create bold flavours and new, unique dishes. You can use the below ideas to transform South Africa’s popular dishes, enhancing their flavours and bringing an Italian twist to the experience.

Cape Malay Curry

Did you know that Italian dishes start with sofrito? This is a blend of diced onions, carrots, and celery, typically mixed in a ratio of 2:1:1. Incorporating sofrito into the curry spices at the beginning will give a Cape Malay curry with yellow rice an even richer flavour than it usually has.

Milk Tart

A simple addition of fruit can add an Italian flavour to the classic South African milk tart. This could be something added to the finished product, such as figs or candied fruit, or a little fresh lemon squeezed into the dish itself, adding a hint of tartness to the sweet milky filling

Limoncello Don Pedro

A South African dessert, the Don Pedro is typically made with whiskey, vanilla ice-cream, and double cream. To give it an Italian twist, we recommend substituting the whiskey with a dash of limoncello, a typical Italian alcoholic drink.

Spaghetti Bobotie

Bobotie is a typical Cape Malay mince dish from South Africa, and it does surprisingly well with pasta instead of white rice. The meaty dish is made with a rich savoury custard that compliments pasta by enhancing the flavour of the starch, rather than drowning it out.

Biltong Potato Salad

Potato salad might not be strictly from here, but it’s a favourite among South Africans. There are numerous variations on it already, including condensed milk or boiled potato versions. But to Italianify it, you could add a few artichoke hearts or capers, giving it a healthy fat flavour profile, along with biltong, to add a salty, spicy element.

Boerewors Pizza

Traditionally, pizza is made with few but fresh ingredients, such as basil, buffalo cheese, and prosciutto, but the world has almost adopted it as its own, and there are variations all over the globe. That means we can make it our own, too, with delights such as boerewors and chakalaka added as toppings to make it South African. 

Skottel Bolognese

Cooking Bolognese on a skottel braai gives a unique smoky flavour to the mince. Add al dente pasta to the meat while it’s still on the skottel just before serving, and we promise you won’t regret it.

italian skottel bolognese

Orange Malva Pudding

Italy is well-known for its delicious, juicy oranges, and we love to bake with the acidic fruit. Adding a dash of orange juice (freshly squeezed, of course) and orange rind to one of South Africa’s favourite desserts gives a delightfully fresh flavour profile you are sure to enjoy.

Pap and Sauce

is is one of the traditional dishes enjoyed throughout South Africa, from Cape Town to Limpopo. You can spice up your pap sauce or make it creamier, depending on your taste. There are a wide range of ways to italianify your pap dish. In Italy, chili, pepper, and tomato are used frequently down South, while in Northern Italy, cuisine often contains cream, truffles, and mushrooms. All of these sound like the perfect accompaniment to pap, if you ask us.

Shisa Nyama

Does it get more South African than a braai? You can make it an Italian affair by adjusting your preparation and cooking methods. Start by marinating the meat in a traditional Italian marinade of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and fresh herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, sage, and rosemary. Let it soak in the sauce for a few hours, then cook that steak over coals just like you would on any Friday Braai Day.

Naartjie Gelato

A similar flavour to orange but sweeter, naartjie would make the perfect flavouring for gelato, the Italian-style ice-cream. Other delicious flavours that will complement this traditionally Italian food would be koeksister, milk tart, and malva pudding.

Snoek Pâté Bruschetta

The type of bread named Bruschetta is a toasted bread that is flavoured with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt. It can have various further toppings, such as tomato, red onion, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar. We recommend topping it with a snoek pâté sourced in South Africa for a local take on an Italian classic. 

Vetkoek Ragù

A quintessential South African dish accompanying a traditional Italian meat sauce makes for a heavenly vetkoek ragù. Just picture the taste of the juicy, doughy outer with the perfectly seasoned filling.

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to incorporate Italian flavours into South African cuisine, it’s time to step up your game and come to a cooking class with Bruna. Learn how to make pasta like tagliatelle, angel hair, ravioli, casunziei, tortellini, farfalle, orechiette, and gnocchi. Prices start at just R650 per person and classes are small and personalised. 

Give us a call on 083 640 5960 or email us at to book your spot today.