A trip to Soweto is incomplete without a taste of its mouth watering street food, or street food. Of all the kasi treats to try, the kota remains the unrivaled reigning queen of street food in Soweto.What is a kota you ask? Pronounced ‘Ko-Ta’, it is a stuffed quarter loaf sandwich. The staple ingredients include…
A trip to Soweto is incomplete without a taste of its mouth watering street food, or street food. Of all the kasi treats to try, the kota remains the unrivaled reigning queen of street food in Soweto.
What is a kota you ask? Pronounced ‘Ko-Ta’, it is a stuffed quarter loaf sandwich. The staple ingredients include a generous serving of slap chips and condiments.
Menus at local stores of extra stuffing’s are generally available which allows buyers to build their desired sandwiches.
The street food you find in the township is much like the street food you find in, say, Singapore, Sydney, or Sevilla. It’s quick, inexpensive, mobile, and very much of-its-place. It’s also a reliable favorite of students, young workers, and tourists looking for local flavor (quite literally).
Soweto’s best-known street food, the kota sandwich, has been a student favorite for generations. “Kota” is an approximation of the word “quarter,” for the quarter of the loaf of bread that is the base of the sandwich.The bread is hollowed out, filled first with a layer of seasoned french fries, then topped with optional layers of sauce, cheese, egg, and meat.
The multi-layered sandwich is packed into an instantly-recognizable white plastic sack.Tip: compress the sandwich together while it’s still inside the bag; otherwise you’ve got a mess of food that you couldn’t get either your hands or your mouth around.Below are snapshots of how a typical kota sandwich is prepared, in this case at the TNP Fastfood street vendor located in the Vilakazi Street neighborhood.
Vilakazi is anchored by the Mandela House Museum, a residence of Desmond Tutu, and the memorial to Hector Pieterson. Pieterson was killed in 1976 at age 13 when police opened fire on protesting students; the photograph of his wounded body being carried to a nearby clinic became an iconic symbol of resistance to the apartheid government.
TNP Fastfood is a typical street vendor of kota sandwiches and other snacks.The kota menu shows optional sandwich toppings.“Quarters” (or kotas) of bread are prepared as the base of the sandwiches.Obakeng, whose name means Praise Him, prepares the french fries in hot oil.The french fries, or chips, are first seasoned with BBQ powder.The chips form the base, or the first layer, of the kota sandwich.
A choice of sauces are the next layer of flavor on top of the chips.Cheese slices are the next layer of flavor that can be added to the kota sandwiches.A few chickens wander from yard to the vendor’s shack and back. Their eggs are a menu option.
The finished sandwich is packed in white plastic bags and ready to transport.Obakeng’s nieces hover curiously around the vendor shack.
The neighborhood around Vilakazi Street is home to the Mandela House museum, the residence of… [+]Located at 8115 Orlando West, Soweto, the home of Nelson Mandela and his family from 1946