Slaai Recipe: A Vegan Avocado, Spinach & Quinoa Salad from Eswatini

This slaai recipe made with avocado, spinach, and quinoa is an amalgamation of common Eswatini flavors and ingredients combined into a fresh, tasty dish. Avocado is marinated and tossed with quinoa, peanuts, coconut and spinach for a perfect summer side.

Country Number 58: Eswatini (previously Swaziland)

Eswatini is a small, landlocked kingdom in Southern Africa. The country has a varying landscape and rolling hills, and is bordered by Mozambique to the northeast and South Africa to the north, west, and south. The majority of the population consists of ethnic Swati (Emaswati), and the main language is siSwati. The country was formed into a kingdom in the mid-18th century, and the name is drawn from the 19th century king Mswati II, under whose leadership the territory was expanded and consolidated. After the Second Boer War, the kingdom was a British protectorate from 1903 until it won its independence in 1968. In 2018, as well as celebrating 50 years of independence and the 50th birthday of the king, the nation shed its colonial name, Swaziland, and re-adopted its Swati name, Eswatini.

Eswatini is quite unusual in that it is one of the last few absolute monarchies in the world: this means that its monarch has supreme authority over all forms of law; both written legislation and customary laws. By tradition, the king (referred to as Ingwenyama or lion) reigns alongside his mother (referred to as Indlovukazi or she-elephant). As such, it is theoretically a shared power which keeps the checks and balances in place. One final fact which really means that dance queen Nicola will really need to visit Eswatini one day: dancing is key to Eswatini identity, and is a common activity undertaken in cultural celebrations.

History of Eswatini Cuisine

Swati cuisine is largely seasonal and geographical. A lot of Swazis are subsistence farmers with supplementary food from markets. The Eswatini diet is based on tinhlavu (grains), with staples such as sorghum, maize, and rice, as well as tibhidvo (vegetables). Inyama (meat), particularly goat, beef, and chicken, are served on special occasions. There is now a lot of South African and Portuguese influence on Swazi cuisine, however there are many traditional dishes still consumed.

Popular Eswatini Vegetarian Dishes

  • Emasi – a fermented milk delicacy.
  • Sishwala – a thick porridge served with a meat or vege stew.
  • Incwancwa – sour porridge made with fermented mealie
  • Umbidvo wetintsanga – pumpkin leaves cooked with ground nuts
  • Sidvudvu – pumpkin porridge with mealie

Vegetarian rating of Eswantini Cuisine:

Making Avocado, Spinach & Quinoa Vegan Salad (Slaai)

The dish we are making is not a traditional Eswatini salad. Rather, it utilises common Eswatini ingredients, particularly avocados, peanuts, ginger, and a grain, to make slaai. We love making light, fresh salads at lunchtimes, so we thought we’d combine the elements of slaai with a more substantial salad, bulked up with quinoa and spinach.

Just a few things to note when making this salad. It’s best to let the avocados marinate for 20 minutes or so to absorb more of the flavour of the ginger and lemon. The quinoa takes 20 minutes to cook as well, so you can have the avocado sit while the quinoa cooks, and you can prepare the rest of the ingredients and whatever else you want to have alongside at the same time.

How to make Avocado Salad (Slaai)

While the marinating step and quinoa cooking time mean this salad takes a little longer than 5 minutes of just throwing things together, it is incredibly simple to make and only takes a few fresh ingredients to create a delightful, light and summery dish:

  1. Combine lemon, ginger and salt. Add in avocados, toss, and marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Cook quinoa by adding to pot with stock, bringing to a boil, reducing to simmer, and cooking for 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Grill corn on a griddle pan until slightly charred, and then toast coconut until lightly browned.
  4. Toss all ingredients together, sprinkle with crushed peanuts, and serve.

Ingredient notes for Avocado, Spinach & Quinoa Vegan Salad

  • Lemon- Replace with lime if it is in season.
  • Peanuts – substitute for another nut or alternatively toasted buckwheat groats if you have an aversion/peanut allergy.
  • Fresh ginger – substitute with dried ginger if you do not have access to fresh.
  • Quinoa – you can substitute with another grain, e.g. couscous or Israeli couscous, if you prefer.

Serving suggestions for Slaai

Serve this fresh vegan salad at a summer bbq alongside vege skewers or with our black bean cakes.

Avocado, Spinach & Quinoa Vegan Salad (Slaai)

Avocado, Spinach & Quinoa Vegan Salad (Slaai)

Yield: 3
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This vegan avocado, spinach and quinoa salad (or slaii in Afrikaans) is an amalgamation of common Swati flavours and ingredients combined into a fresh, tasty dish. Avocado is marinated and tossed, with quinoa, peanuts, and coconut for a perfect summer side.


  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large avocados, ripe, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of spinach


  1. Combine lemon juice, ginger and salt.
  2. Add the avocado and toss gently to coat. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes.
  3. As it is marinating, cook the quinoa by adding it to a pot, covering the quinoa with vege stock, bringing to a boil, reducing to simmer, and letting it cook for 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Grill corn on a griddle pan until slightly charred, and toast coconut until lightly browned.
  5. Toss together avocados with corn, coconut, quinoa, and spinach.
  6. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts and serve.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment & review above or share a photo on Instagram tagging @polkadotpassport so I can reshare your creations!

Other healthy dishes to try

Liked this vegan slaai recipe. Pin it for later!

Nicola Easterby Bio Image

Hey, I'm Nicola!

I am a travel + food blogger on a mission to discover the best destinations & dishes in the world. Thanks for joining the adventure!


5 Ways to Monetize as a Travel Content Creator in 2024

5 Ways to Monetize as a Travel Content Creator in 2024

Want to turn your passion for travel into a profitable business? This step-by-step guide will show you exactly how to monetize as a travel content creator in 2023! This post was kindly sponsored by Travelpayouts. However, as always, all opinions expressed are my own....

read more
12 BEST Cenotes to Visit in Riviera Maya

12 BEST Cenotes to Visit in Riviera Maya

Explore the crystal-clear waters, mystical caves, and vibrant marine life of the 12 most beautiful cenotes in Riviera Maya. Welcome to the enchanting world of Riviera Maya, a tropical paradise located on the East Coast of Mexico. Hidden under the surface of the Mayan...

read more
Pönnukökur: Icelandic Pancakes Recipe

Pönnukökur: Icelandic Pancakes Recipe

Pönnukökur, or Icelandic pancakes, are thin, crepe-like pancakes filled with thick, creamy skyr yogurt and topped with fresh berries. You need to try this healthy & delicious breakfast from Iceland! Almost every country in the world seems to have a version of...

read more


A Guide to Sailing in the Ionian Sea

A Guide to Sailing in the Ionian Sea

Find out why the Ionian Sea in Greece is one of the most spectacular places in the world to go sailing! Image source Imagine traveling in a blue sea of calm waters and cool winds on the Western Coast of Greece. The waters lead to a paradise of islands with white sandy...

read more

Turkish Airlines Food: Economy Class Review

Ever wondered what Turkish Airlines food is like in Economy Class? I reviewed everything I ate flying from London to Tbilisi. Normally when I travel short-haul in Europe, I'm flying on a budget airline that basically charge you money for breathing. So it was a real...

read more
Fun Things to Do in Auckland at Night

Fun Things to Do in Auckland at Night

Image source Auckland is the most populous city in New Zealand and, as such, offers a great deal of activities. No matter what a traveller looks for, they’ll find it here. Auckland is a stunning harbourside city during the day, yet it really turns on its charm when...

read more
Skip to Recipe