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South African Tomato Bredie (Stew)

June 7, 2011

I’m ever mindful that so many of you read this blog from the Northern hemisphere and I know that, right now, you have no need of (or want) a thick winter stew. So, all you lucky people enjoying Summer may bookmark this page for your next winter whilst I share with my fellow Southern “Hemispherians”  who are braving the chill….

Well, I promised you all a uniquely South African dish and here it is….. a traditional lamb and tomato stew known to us as Tomato Bredie.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 700 g boneless lamb shoulder cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 6 medium-sized firm ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into slices
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh hot chilies
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a heavy 10 to 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the lamb and brown it a few pieces at a time. Turn the pieces frequently with a slotted spoon and regulate the heat so that they colour richly and evenly without burning. As the lamb browns, transfer the pieces to a plate.
  2. Pour off and all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet and drop in the onion slices and the garlic. Stirring frequently and scraping in any brown particles that cling to the bottom of the pan, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Stir in the tomatoes, chilies, cloves, sugar and salt, then add the lamb and any juices that have accumulated around it.
  3. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible point, cover tightly, and cook the bredie for 1 hour, stirring it from time to time to prevent the vegetables and lamb from sticking to the pan. Remove the cover and, stirring and mashing the tomatoes occasionally, simmer for 30 to 40 minutes longer or until the lamb is very tender and most of the liquid in the pan has cooked away. The sauce should be thick enough to hold its shape almost solidly in the spoon.
  4. Taste for seasoning. Pick out and discard the cloves and serve the bredie from a heated platter, accompanied by hot boiled rice.

Remember to cook your bredie slowly. The flavours are also greatly improved if you make it a day in advance. So, give it a try and let me know what you think…

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