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May 13, 2010

South African Flag

I greet you from my Cape hideaway on the southern tip of the African continent. It is a cold, wet blustery day.  In other words, a typical winter’s day in Cape Town where the north westerly wind howls through, driving the rain ahead of it! And yet it is still officially Autumn, so I think it is safe to say we are in for a long cold and wet winter! 

Cape Town & Table Mountain taken from Blouberg

 I am very excited to be participating in my first Monthly Mingle.

I have been reading Meeta’s beautiful blog, WHAT’S FOR LUNCH, HONEY? for a few years now but it is only recently that we have become friends and I was really excited to read that she had decided on South Africa as the current theme for her monthly virtual mingle. South Africa is internationally known as The Rainbow Nation and, like it’s diverse people and cultures, the cuisine of the country is also rainbow colored and just as varied. I know that others will have given the cultural history of the cuisine of my country and Meeta also supplied a link in her post so I will focus on what I am bringing to the monthly mingle rather than on the different foods that one can enjoy in this delightfully rich and colorful country that I call home.

3 legged potjie

My dish is called a Biltong Potjie (pronounced “poi-key”). Potjiekos (literal translation “pot food”) has for centuries been a part of the food culture of South Africa. Basically it is food that is prepared by cooking it in a 3 legged cast iron pot over an open fire. Any recipe for stews or casseroles can be adapted to this type of cooking. The flavors are rich and robust, the occasion is friendly and a happy social time, ideally suited to a group of friends gathered around the fire, sharing good food, good wine or beer and stories that get taller and taller, while the delectable aromas from the bubbling pot waft around the countryside enticing all and sundry! Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine the setting I have described above , adding a wonderful African sunset, the darkening landscape, sounds of the bush or the ocean – aaaaaaah bliss!!!  Historically the South African potjie, and the type of cooking I will be sharing with you all, was brought to this country by Jan van Riebeeck, a Dutch merchant for the Dutch East India Company & founder of Cape Town, in 1652 when he anchored in Table Bay at the southern tip of Africa to establish a base, improve the natural anchorage in Table Bay for ships and provide refreshments, fresh produce & livestock to passing fleets on their long arduous voyage between Europe & Asia. It was he also who brought the first vines into the country to start making wines to supply to sailors as a remedy against scurvy. Today this region produces many award winning wines.  You can read more on the history of South Africa here These early settlers used the potjies for preparing hot meals with meat and vegetables and also for baking pot bread, using the heat generated in the closed potjies as ovens. When trade increased between Africa and Asia many new exotic spices and herbs became available that further contributed to the evolution of potjiekos which became a unique cuisine on its own. As the metal heats up the flavors of the dish being prepared are released into the pores in the cast iron and it becomes “seasoned” over time – capturing the flavors of all the different dishes prepared, which adds to the general flavor and aroma of food prepared in the potjie. The inside surface of the pot smoothes with age, a pot with a very smooth interior surface is an old friend. The meal tastes much better the next day after it has had time for the flavors to mingle and develop overnight in the pot. The round shape of the pot and its domed well fitting lid allows heat to flow evenly around the sides and keep liquids in the bottom or lowest point to avoid burning of the food. The lid has a deep lip or gutter around the edge that can hold hot coals thus providing all round heat (ideal for baking breads). The three legs make it ideal for cooking directly over an open fire. The flat bottomed potjie is ideal for baking bread. Remember that a potjie must never be stirred once the layers of meat and vegetables are put in. They need to cook in layers and retain their own flavors until you are ready to serve! 

Biltong Hanging (photo borrowed from web)

BILTONG – meat that is cured or dried in strips by applying with vinegar then rubbing in salt, herbs and spices before it is hung up to dry – a process used by pioneers to preserve and store meat in the days before refrigeration. Delicious and oh so more-ish.

Sliced Biltong

So let’s get this pot on the boil then….enough historical rambling. This recipe comes courtesy of my older brother Rey who is well known amongst family, friends and church members for the wonderful potjies that he prepares!! Thank you boet for giving me and the world your lovely recipe!! (Boet means brother for those who don’t know the Afrikaans language)


Biltong Potjie

 Biltong Potjie

(use a Nr 2 sized Pot which serves 4-6) 

3 Onions 

250g Bacon (chopped up)

1Kg Button or Brown Mushrooms 

1 Clove Garlic – crushed 

 250ml Hot Beef Stock 

750ml Rice – cooked750g Biltong  sliced  

Few sprigs of thyme – leaves picked off the stalks  

250g Cheddar Cheese 

25g Butter  

 This is how you make it: 

Build your fire and allow the coals to become medium hot 

Preheat your potjie over the coals   

Melt the butter in the bottom of the potjie  Add the chopped onions and bacon and saute till the onions are limp & translucent and the bacon is cooked   

Add the mushrooms & garlic and saute till the liquid has evaporated and they start to go light brown 

Add the beef stock and thymeAdd the cooked rice and the sliced biltong in layers – a layer of rice, a layer of biltong until all used upAdd the cheese in one layer on top. Cover with the lid and allow to stand for 5-10minutes over low heat coals. If the fire is too hot at this stage the rice will start to burnWhen the cheese has melted remove the potjie from the heat, set aside and leave to stand for about half an hour for the flavors to develop.Just before serving use a large wooden spoon to gently stir the potjie so that all the layers are mixed together and evenly distributed.  

Serve with salads and pot bread.    

Delicious biltong potjie


I hope you have enjoyed this mingle and have enjoyed learning more about my home country.  Thank you Meeta for choosing South Africa! I hope to meet you here one day :o)

Colleen xx

62 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2010 12:19 PM

    Lovely post!! First stop when we get home, butchery for biltong!!!! xxxxx

    • May 18, 2010 10:02 AM

      Aaaaah I can just imagine that first stop Wendy. Thanx so much xx

      • May 19, 2010 6:04 PM

        Hey girls… came to check up on the food side of things.. YUMMY, I could make this more kosher-acceptable! hehehehe.
        Wendy, I think that’s why I’m so fat… I cannot resist the biltong! *sigh*

        How was your day with the little guy today Coll? Hope you managed to keep him quiet :).

      • May 24, 2010 5:54 PM

        Hi Dinx, just saw this comment slotted in here now. Sorry! All going OK thanx. Check up Wednesday with ophthalmologist. He has been really very accommodating but sometimes the devil gets in there hehe…Hugs xx

  2. Thea permalink
    May 13, 2010 12:41 PM

    Hi Friend. I will not be showing D this post, as he will be drooling all over my keyboard.

    It is recipes like these that make me miss eating beef.

    Hugs My friend
    Phone you later to catch up on the little guy, I have my voice back- sort of.
    Love and hugs

    • May 18, 2010 10:03 AM

      Thank you so much Thea. And thanx for the chat. I do love me some beef now and again…..hugs to you too and hope you are all better now xx

  3. May 13, 2010 3:26 PM

    This sounds fantastically decadent – a meat-lovers idea of heaven!

    • May 18, 2010 10:04 AM

      It sure is Marisa…and it has cheese in it too 🙂 #cheesesluts LOL!

  4. May 13, 2010 6:36 PM

    Hallo, dearest food guru! This recipe looks awesome – I’ll try it! xxx

    • May 18, 2010 10:10 AM

      Hello Jo groupie. so good to see you. Thanx and please let me know how it goes when you do try it. Another friend tried it on the weekend while the rugby was on and she told me on facebook that they loved it xx

  5. May 13, 2010 9:58 PM

    Hey ou girl, this look so divinely yummee……..I am thinking and praying for you and your family……will phone tomorrow!

    • May 18, 2010 10:11 AM

      Hi Nins. So sorry I missed your call…the second op went well. Back today to take the bandages off. Hugs xx

  6. May 14, 2010 12:34 AM

    WOW, I definately think “BeadzBoy” needs to try this one when we are back there. Thanks for sharing Browniegirl. Love and hugs and keep those awesome recipes a comin!! xx
    PS and very cruel showing us such delectable bits of biltong when it’s hard to find here 😦

    • May 18, 2010 10:13 AM

      Well now Beadz, you could always make your own biltong and try it over in Sugarland hehe….thanx so much friend. I am sure Beadzboy will enjoy this one 🙂 Hugs across the miles xxx

  7. May 16, 2010 10:54 PM

    I had a feeling I might find you here, along with some other LD users who have made a move. Have a blog here and on eblogger as I’ve dediced to leave LD. Have already subscribed to your blog via email (because I haven’t quite figured out how to get it on my blogroll yet).

    This potjie of yours quite delish – perfect for the wet, windy, wintry weather in Cape Town of late.

    Chat soon
    Say What, now blogging as reflectionsofamisfit

    • May 18, 2010 10:15 AM

      Hey SW its good to see you here!! Thankyou so much for the visit & comment. Hope it goes well with your new blogs. Will find you when I have the time. Babysitting at the moment. This is really a delishy potjie.

  8. May 17, 2010 10:20 AM

    Fabulous post and divine recipe, Browniegirl. You do us proud.

    • May 18, 2010 10:16 AM

      Thank you so much Madmom. I take that as a great compliment xx

  9. rooikat permalink
    May 17, 2010 12:22 PM

    I don’t usually do biltong, but this makes me feel that it would be a good idea to try some again!

    Cheers and enjoy the sun, such as it is!

    • May 18, 2010 10:00 AM

      Good to see you again Rooikat. Thanx for the pop in. This meal is a great one. And it is worthy of giving it at least a try….xx

  10. Sharon permalink
    May 17, 2010 3:06 PM

    Hey BG – hope the op went okay! This potjie looks delish…although I suspect half of the biltong will not make it to the pot if Im around!! Just love it!! *HUGS*

    • May 18, 2010 9:59 AM

      The second op went well so far…at least the lens is in Sharon. Today for the post op check to see if he can see…..Thanx so much. The biltong is so more-ish 😉 xx

  11. May 18, 2010 1:13 AM

    ooooh, that looks divine! The only problem is that hubby won’t let me “waste” biltong on a potjie… Will have to visit you to have this! 🙂

    • May 18, 2010 9:58 AM

      Thanx Jeanne…hehe. Its totally delicious. You will have to wait and come and enjoy it here then won’t you? 😉

  12. May 18, 2010 9:08 AM

    Hello Sweetheart….Once again you are making me hungry.
    How did you get the blogroll on the side of your post?

    • May 18, 2010 9:54 AM

      Hey granny good to see you again…thanx so much. We will have to liase a time so that I can help you with your new blog. Gotta get my Jasmine fix :o) xx

      • May 18, 2010 10:00 AM

        Morning Love…Cindy set me up…posted a pic of Jasmine yesterday…not a good one but need to go through my pics.
        She has also copied some of my posts over for me.
        How is the little one today?

      • May 18, 2010 10:25 AM

        So glad that Cindy helped you granny. Im off to see if I can find you now….Jay seems happy and contented. Going off to hospital at 2 for the bandages to come off and check if he can see….Im babysitting at the moment and am running round with a Bob the Builder yellow hat on my head 🙂

  13. May 20, 2010 7:43 AM

    Eeeeekkk…. *the veggie makes a u-turn and burns rubber on the way out*
    (Psssstttt….. how is the little man’s eyes??)

    • May 21, 2010 6:39 PM

      HAHA!!! Now that you have found me I had better do some veggie friendly posts again :o)Doing OK thanks Lyndatjie, he is struggling with the no running around or jumping instruction. Its hard for a 2 year old but on the whole he is really so brave and good about it all. Thanx so much for asking xx

      • May 24, 2010 11:08 AM

        It must be very difficult for him…little one’s recover quickly; before you know it he will running and jumping again…love and big hugs xxx

      • May 24, 2010 5:38 PM

        Thanx NA….hugs and love there too xx

  14. May 24, 2010 11:06 AM

    Hi Colleen my mouth is watering…I luuuurrrrrvvvveee anything biltong…oh well let me eat my naartjie…have a great week 🙂

    • May 24, 2010 5:45 PM

      A naartjie?? Ag no man… need a bit more to put meat on them bones LOL!! Hello NA so nice to see you. xx

  15. May 24, 2010 5:08 PM

    Browniegirl??? You going to post again? This century? This lifetime? *hopeful look*

    • June 27, 2010 8:05 PM

      Sorry its taken me so long Lyndatjie…Im hoping to do a post tonight…I hope the weather patterns don’t change too drastically from the shock of it…:o) xx

  16. May 24, 2010 5:52 PM

    Hehe….*sigh* best I get off my lazy ummmm……. oh man I’ve been babysitting and my hands are full!! But just for you I will burn the midnight oil tonight and do a post…thanx for checking up on me ;o)

  17. May 26, 2010 1:06 PM

    I am so very impressed by tackling this dish using traditional methods. It looks very delicious. I think this mingle has made me a fan of South African cuisine for life.
    My blog celebrated Africa Day with a collection of recipes from across the continent. I would love your thoughts.

    • June 27, 2010 8:17 PM

      Thank you so much Casey for stopping by. There is such diversity in African cuisine..I will definitely pop in at your blog. Thank you so much. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back here. I have been ill xx

  18. May 27, 2010 10:46 AM

    The biltongpotjie sounds delicious. what bliss to have such a lot of biltong around!

    • June 27, 2010 8:03 PM

      Thank you Marietjie…we do so love our biltong. But it is very expensive so it is for special occasions only hehe…xx

  19. Supa permalink
    May 31, 2010 8:59 PM

    This does sound good, we don’t have a potjie, I keep meaning to get one.

    • June 27, 2010 8:15 PM

      You need to get that potjie now Supa…Good to see you thanx so much xx

  20. June 1, 2010 2:26 PM

    Hello Brownigirl! very interesting potjie, though if I were to suggest it my family would lynch me – don’t mess with the biltong! either that, or they’d have eaten it before it got to the pot!

    How is your little grandson?

    I have a started a cooking/camping blog – please come visit

    Good to see you’re happy here, your website is great! Zabwan

    • June 27, 2010 8:19 PM

      HAHA!!! Nice to see you again Zabz and thanx so much. Will pop by. Little Jay has to go in for another op on Wednesday. Something about a stitch in his eye causing bad headaches. Will update when I know more. Hugs xxx

  21. June 1, 2010 10:31 PM

    Excellent as always!

    10 Stars!

    Would you believe they sell Potjies in Calgary and many of us make Biltong here as Calgary is so dry.

    You have been tagged. 😉


    • June 27, 2010 7:58 PM

      Hey Toks, nice to see you. Yes I did see somewhere that you can get potjies in Calgary….and now I know biltong too. Hope you get to make this potjie!! Thanx so much. I have been absent for a loooong while. Been sick. Love xxx

  22. June 2, 2010 11:21 AM

    Hi there, hope you are well? Looks yummy as always.

    • June 27, 2010 8:22 PM

      Thanx for popping back Supa. I am doing much better now thanx so much xx

  23. June 2, 2010 10:33 PM

    Oh, goody! Lyndatjie’s link got me here!

    Biltong and potjie – VERY Sarf Efrican!

    • June 27, 2010 8:23 PM

      Howdy Col, good to see you here too. Thanx so much for popping by!! Hope you are all doing well and hugs to everyone xx

  24. June 3, 2010 6:58 PM

    You never going to post again? *sniff* *sniff* *hiccup*

  25. June 8, 2010 6:45 PM


    • June 9, 2010 9:50 AM

      Our Browniegirl is sickies!

      • June 21, 2010 3:01 PM

        Oh no…. 😦
        Ok – if you want me to send you something HOT and RICH so that you can get better quickly – then speak! (I promise its not something that I cooked – I love you too much to kill you).

  26. June 22, 2010 9:02 AM

    good Morning Love….tried to phone you yesterday…got the maid but didn’t leave a message.
    Is it good to be back home?
    Time to post again!!!!!!

    • June 27, 2010 7:15 PM

      Time indeed to post again…its been so long Im afraid the weather patterns are going to change….hehe. Thanx Kath. Im doing much better now and its time for sure to blog again. xx

  27. June 27, 2010 7:56 PM

    Hehe….no girl in her right mind would refuse something hot and rich Lyndatjie….send it over please!!! Love you too xx

  28. October 15, 2010 12:20 AM

    hi, thanks for the recipe:)
    i guess one can vary the biltong with either beef or game, kudu etc?

    • October 15, 2010 12:35 PM

      Hi Conrad, you’re welcome. You can absolutely vary the biltong with any type you prefer. Thanx for popping by xx

  29. Cheryl permalink
    September 27, 2011 4:12 AM

    Hi Colleen

    Just wanted to share what a great success your biltong potjie receipe is. My husband and I belong to a SA club in Brisbane, Qld. Over the week-end we made your biltong potjie receipe and we won!!!!!!! Thank you so much for a fantastic receipe.

    • September 27, 2011 9:41 AM

      Hi Cheryl, what a fabulous comment. Thank you so much. And congratulations on winning! That is just awesome news. So glad to get this kind of feedback and so glad that you all enjoyed it so much. It is a stunning potjie! All the best to you! What did you win btw?? 🙂 xx

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