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.
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.
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.
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.
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.