Samosas, schwarmas and sweetmeat in Fordsburg

Fordsburg lies just west of downtown Johannesburg, and is probably best known for its large bazaar-style shopping mall Oriental Plaza. But there is a lot more to this vibrant suburb. Take a stroll up Albertina Sisulu street, and you’ll be forgiven for thinking that you have ended up in another world. A world where you are surrounded by Indian deities, hijab wearing women and street vendors selling everything from green coconuts to cassette tapes. Indian restaurants lie side-by-side with shops selling oriental perfumes and the streets are lined with stalls selling everything you need for a good curry.

Fordsburg, with downtown Johannesburg in the distance

Fordsburg, with downtown Johannesburg in the distance

Oriental perfume, made with musk, spices and fragrant oils

Oriental perfume, made with musk, spices and fragrant oils

Indian deities of all shapes and sizes

Indian deities of all shapes and sizes

If you thought that there is no fashion in Muslim headscarves, think again

If you thought that there is no fashion statements in Muslim clothing, think again

Originally an Indian area, Fordsburg is now also home to a range of immigrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa most of whom are Muslim. With this vibrant and diverse community comes lots of different food, making this a perfect place for a food safari! Here are some of my favourites:

Samoosas at the market on Fordsburg Square. You can find pretty much anything Indian at the flea market on Fordsburg Square, from incense to basmati rice, but head towards the Albertina Sisulu Street side and you will find a couple of permanent stalls that sell fresh samosas. They come with every imaginable filling, so be sure to try a few different ones.

Freshly fried samosas

Freshly fried samosas

Some of the things you can find at the flea market (I have no idea what it is though)

Some of the things you can find at the flea market (I have no idea what it is though)

Chilies galore; perfect for a hot curry!

Chilies galore; perfect for a hot curry!

Schwarma at House of Schwarma. On the corner of Albertina Sisulu and Central lies a not very eye-catching fastfood restaurant. Do not be fooled by its exterior; the Lebanese crew at Schwarma House serve the best schwarma this side of Beirut! You just have to try it.

House of schwarma

House of schwarma

This is where the magic happens

This is where the magic happens

Are you salivating yet?

Are you salivating yet?

Sweetmeats at Shaheen Sweets and Refreshments. Indian sweetmeat is little cakes made with nuts, milk, ghee and mild spices and, of course, sugar. But having said that, it is the nuts and spices that dominate, and they are not as sickly sweet as you may think (although a little does go a long way). One of my favourites is the little almond treats.

Shaheen sweets and refreshments

Shaheen sweets and refreshments

Almond sweetmeat

Almond sweetmeat

Apart from the amazing food, Fordsburg is well-worth a visit just to soak up the atmosphere. It is a safe area as far as any big city is safe, but do use your common sense. If you don’t want to visit on your own, Ishvara from Ancient Secrets regularly organises guided tour to the area with a focus on food and culture.

Green coconuts are on sale in many places around Fordsburg; very nice and refreshing on a hot day

Green coconuts are on sale in many places around Fordsburg; very nice and refreshing on a hot day

Water pipes galore

Water pipes galore

Need some veggies for your curry?

Need some veggies for your curry?

Fordsburg

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