Cultural heritage in Durbs

The distinctive blend of characteristic foods that makes up the rich diversity of our province serves up a few drinks that contribute to our local KZN heritage. There are two that come to mind which represent the main cultural influences of our province.

The Bombay Crush

The Bombay Crush, an exotic-sounding milky pink concoction, is not necessarily a Durban invention, but the name and version of it is unique to our East Coast and the beverage a popular one in both local Indian and Muslim communities. Inspired by a very similar drink available in South Asian countries, the one here is often made with milk whisked with vanilla ice cream, Rooh Afza (a fruity rose and cardamom syrup) and the characteristic subja (basil) seeds, also known as falooda seeds. The seeds are soaked in water prior to being added to the drink, and then become little balls of jelly. Occasionally, vermicelli noodles are added as well. It’s a fragrant, cooling drink that is especially refreshing during our humid summers, and a replenishing drink with which to break the fast during Ramadan. Almost any restaurant that serves curry in Durban will serve a Bombay Crush, so it’s easy to find.

The Bombay Crush


While fermented drinks such as kombucha tea are becoming global trends for their alleged pro-biotic health benefits, the local Zulu and Xhosa culture have been enjoying them in our province for generations. In KZN, almost any supermarket stocks amaHewu. This traditional non-alcholic South African drink is made from fermented maize meal, and sometimes mixed with pineapple juice to create amahewu ka phayinaphu. It’s available in banana, strawberry and plain flavours and tastes a little like a yoghurt drink, due to the fermentation. As for local maize drinks, we’ve got our very own centuries-old original craft beer: uMqombothi. Made with maize meal, crushed maize malt, yeast and water. Find it at Khangela Brewery in KZN, home to the most recognisable brand of umqombothi in SA.


Words & images: Shirley Berko






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