Warwick #4: Eating Well at the Bovine Head Cookers Market

If you live in Glenwood and you don’t visit the Markets of Warwick regularly you’re not living your best Durban life. Period. From a haircut, to fruit and veg, and great food, there’s nothing you can’t buy there and at the cheapest prices in town. Around a million people pass through the area each day, shouldn’t you too? Shed your suburban fear and become an urban explorer.

This is the fourth in a weekly series of Warwick profiles; chronicling the best spots, services, and stories in the area. Check back each week to learn about a different way to save time and money through a new relationship with Durban’s busy and vibrant transport hub.


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Warwick Junction doesn’t have a reputation as a culinary hotspot, however, if you look, there is truly great food be found. For those unaccustomed to the area the Bovine Head Cookers Market, located next to the early morning market, normally only warrants a passing glance or even a sneer. But, this is a mistake. It is home to delicious food, prepared daily by some amazing women. This week the Glenwood Collective had lunch with Slindile, one of the wonderful cooks at the market, to learn all about how to order and eat cow’s head like a pro.

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GC: So, can you walk us through a bit on how the cow head is prepared?

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Sli: Everyday I come early in the morning to start cooking. We cook on wood fires here, so the fires have been built and started. When we are ready to cook we prepare the cow’s head [For Sli, a whole cow’s head costs R180 from the butcher, FYI] by cutting it into two pieces so that it can fit into our pots. That’s what you see the women doing here with the axes.

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GC: And how is it cooked?

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Sli: The pieces of the head are boiled in water and salt for around two hours. After the meat is ready, we take it off and cut off the best pieces to serve to our customers. We use the water left in the pot to steam the jeqe [steamed bread].

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GC: What parts of the cow’s head do you serve?

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Sli: We serve the entire20161128_215217 head in different ways- you can order any part. However, the best piece of meat to order is the cheek, imbovu in isiZulu. It has the most tender meat with very little fat. A platter of imbovu with jeqe, salt, and chili is R45, and that will serve 2-3 hungry people. Traditionally it was just the men who ate here at the market and ordered the imbovu, but now I encourage everybody to try it.

GC: When is the best time to visit?

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Sli: We are busiest in the mornings and on the weekends. This is a great place to come for lunch on a Saturday [it is the best pre-drinking meal ever].

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GC: Are there other food options for those who might be a bit too nervous to try cow’s head?

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Sli: Yes, there is a couple women here who sell traditional zulu foods- phutu and beans, curries, stews, and different veg dishes for R25 a plate.

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GC: Thank you Slindile!

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Practical info: Parking is a bit of a mission for the market. Rather walk down via Berea or Lancers Road. If you drive there is parking underneath the Victoria Street Market, and you can walk over via the Brook Street Market and the Muthi Bridge.
Expect big changes to the market in the following year, as the Municipality is upgrading facilities in order to make things easier for both customers and cooks. In the future, preparation will be in a separate building, which seems like a good thing. But, go now to experience the traditional atmosphere before it changes.

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