South African cuisine is influenced by Dutch, African, Indian and English dishes. Some, are classed as fine-dining dishes, and others are more traditional and simple recipes.
From braaivleis and koeksisters and Samoosas and Gatsby’s, the scope of truly South African dishes stretches far and wide.
Roasted Goats Head
Something that you may not find in your average restaurant, but is still wholly South African, is a fire-roasted goat’s head, or smiley. Also known by its Zulu name of “inhloko isigqokweni”, which translates to “head-on-a-plate”, the dish is known throughout the world for its unique flavours and macabre looks.
Given the name smiley for how the cooked skull resembles a smiling animal, the dish is closest to offal. The only difference is that it is first parboiled in a vat and then roasted over a fire before eating, whereas offal is usually served raw.
If you’re a tourist visiting South Africa and are daring enough to dry this exotic dish, you’d need to enlist the services of a tour guide to tell you where the best smileys are served. Traditionally a township food, they are often sold alongside other South African dishes such as roasted corncob, braaivleis or pap.
How To Eat A Smiley
Usually, the eyeballs and brain are also served, giving the smiley even more exotic flavours and reputation. Each vendor usually incorporates their own blend of spices when preparing the smiley, some preferring to use hot chilli while others use lemons to add a slight zest to the dish.
But smileys aren’t all about being a daring dish to consume, they are also high in protein, especially when choosing to eat the eyeballs of the goat. So, if you’re planning on visiting South Africa or are a local who wants to try something new in your own backyard, be sure to track down a smiley and see if it puts a smile on your face!