Why South Africans love using spices

South Africa is known for its vibrant culture, rich history, and diverse cuisine. One aspect of South African cuisine that stands out is the use of spices. From the iconic peri-peri to the aromatic masala, South Africans love adding spices to their food. But why do South Africans have such a love affair with spices? In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind South Africa’s obsession with spices.

Cultural Diversity

South Africa is a diverse country with a rich cultural heritage. The country’s history of colonization and immigration has led to a fusion of different cultures, and this has had a profound impact on the country’s cuisine. The use of spices in South African cuisine can be traced back to the arrival of Dutch and Indian settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over time, the use of spices became a crucial aspect of South African cuisine, and it continues to be an integral part of the country’s culinary tradition.

Flavor Enhancement

One of the primary reasons South Africans love using spices is for their flavor-enhancing properties. Spices have the ability to transform a dish and take it to the next level. For example, the use of cumin, coriander, and turmeric in a curry can bring out the flavors of the other ingredients and create a delicious and aromatic dish. Similarly, the use of peri-peri in a marinade can add a spicy kick to chicken or beef, making it more flavorful and enjoyable.

Health Benefits

Spices are not only used for their flavor but also for their health benefits. Many spices have medicinal properties and are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. For example, turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and is commonly used to treat joint pain and other inflammatory conditions. Similarly, cumin is believed to aid digestion and improve overall gut health.

Cultural Significance

Spices are also significant in South African culture. Many traditional dishes and recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, and the use of spices is a vital part of this heritage. For example, the Cape Malay curry, which is a fusion of Indian and African flavors, is made with a blend of spices such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and turmeric. This dish has become a symbol of Cape Town’s cultural heritage and is a popular dish in South Africa.


In conclusion, South Africans love using spices because of their cultural diversity, flavor-enhancing properties, health benefits, and cultural significance. Spices are an integral part of South African cuisine, and they have played a significant role in shaping the country’s culinary tradition. Whether it’s the aromatic masala or the fiery peri-peri, South Africans will continue to embrace spices and use them to create delicious and flavorful dishes for years to come.