Aisle Spy

Biltong, braai and boerewors

South African food is beefing up its UK presence.

14 September 2018

Biltong has overrun the supermarkets. The cured strips of lean meat have infiltrated all the major retailers through brands like Cruga, Ember and Kings. Tesco even has an own-brand version, while category leader Meatsnacks Group recently expanded on its existing offering by adding a new range, Krave, to give the South African staple a healthier halo.

But could this interest expand into other national specialities, riding the rising wave of interest in African cuisines in the same way biltong has become mainstream thanks to an interest in protein-rich snacks?

Newcomer K’s Wors certainly hopes so. Founded by Delight Mapasure, the Manchester-based start-up specialises in boerewors, South Africa’s version of the sausage.

“We know there’s a growing appetite for international cuisine, and I know that when people think of African, at the minute people are mostly thinking of East African, Nigerian and Ghanaian,” says Mapasure. “So we thought, let’s bring it down to South Africa and introduce these flavours on a global stage.”

What’s in a name?

So how are boerewors different from British bangers? While consumed in similar ways, traditional boerewors are much longer and contain a different blend of spices, such as coriander, cloves and nutmeg. The South African government also enforces strict regulations regarding what can be labelled a boerewors: it must contain no less than 90% meat, no more than 30% fat, and include no offal (casing excluded) or mechanically recovered meat.

While K’s Wors product is manufactured in the UK, the brand follows those guidelines to create a more authentic product, according to Mapasure, who is preparing for a brand reveal on October 1.

“The texture is a lot more meaty, it’s got a lot of bite,” she says of boerewors compared to other sausages. “One of its strongest characteristics is that when you cut through it, it falls apart.

Boerewors normally contain beef, often mixed with lamb, pork and goat – the only four meats permissible by SA law.

While we’ve noted elsewhere that there’s been a growing interest in goat, K’s Wors sausages are made from a more conservative combo of beef, pork and lamb.

Boerewors literally means ‘farmer sausage’ in English, which is why the classic flavour in K’s Wors four-strong range has been dubbed Countrystyle. Other options include Chilli and Mapasure’s personal favourite, Chilli & Garlic.

The Chakalaka, meanwhile, draws its flavours from the South African dish of the same name, which is a spicy relish that usually contains onions, tomatoes, baked beans and chillies.

“We call [the Chakalaka] mild, but when we’ve gone for tasting sessions, a few people have said that it’s a bit more than mild!” laughs Mapasure, who aims to distribute in Mancunian outlets first before exploring her options nationwide. If K’s Wors is successful, she plans to diversify into South African sauces, oils and snacks.

It’s time for Africa

South African speciality shops are not uncommon in major UK cities, particularly London, where The Savannah has seven locations. The chain has recently jumped on the meal box trend by offering a braai-inspired package of flatties, steak and boerewors.

Braai, a South African style of barbecuing, also influenced Peckham restaurant Kudu earlier this year. Putting a modern spin on SA favourites, chef Patrick Williams told Food Spark he was looking to incorporate meat offcuts on the menu as part of his mission to take his cuisine to a wider British audience.

Sparkie has noted elsewhere that there’s a real interest in international cuisine gripping the nation, and thanks to the significant South African population already suffusing Britain’s metropolises, the country’s culinary culture may already have a head start.

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