Potjiekos – A Tasty Tradition!

Potjiekos, before heading to South Africa, came into being in the Netherlands in 1574 when there was the siege of Leiden, which was an 80 year war. It’s still cooked in the Netherlands in the hutspot, which is quite a close relative to the Potjie pot. They would cook a layered mix of vegetables and sometimes meat.

The original recipe stemmed from cooked vegetables left in posts by the Spanish soldiers during the siege where the local residents would then eat it.

The Dutch arrived in the cape in 1652 where they brought along the cast iron pots, which were perfect to simmer meals for hours making the tenderest offerings. The food was then also stored in the pots to eat later. Then, when the Voortrekkers headed off in their ox wagons across the mountains and savannah, the potjie stew evolved, as the meat would be wild game they managed to shoot for the pot. Meat used for the meal was generally venison, guinea fowl, warthog, bush pig, rabbits etc.

Nowadays, here in South Africa, potjie is still prepared in the outdoors, and the recipes include meat, veggies such as carrots, pumpkin, cabbage, marrows, broccoli with potatoes or rice. One can also make a mean seafood potjie (when you get in that good catch or pop in at the local seafood market).

To get the fire started – use briquettes, charcoal or wood to make a fire, making sure that the fire is regulated and you have hot coals for a good few hours, you don’t want it going out half way through the cooking process. In the day when fuel was scarce, grass and even dry animal dung was used.

When cooking, remember to layer the ingredients, meat first where you can sear it, once that is about done, add onions, garlic, herbs, spices, stock, and some wine if you have and give it a good stir. Because veggies take a shorter time period to cook, stack on top and add more liquid to cover and continue cooking. Do not stir like you would with good cooking on a stove!

The aim is that the flavours of the different ingredients mix as little as possible. Although some cooks allow for a little stir, don’t create a stew where the ingredients flavours all blend in together.

The absolute best part about a potjie is the time spent with your friends and family by the fire while it cooks. Remember patience is key as potjies cook from 3 – 6 hours. Here at Granny Mouse Country House & Spa we have some posh potjie recipes that will have you licking your fingers and groaning in delight and may be served up either with some rice, pasta or mash if you like.

Some posh pojtie ideas include:



  • 500 g spaghetti
  • 3 tots olive oil
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tot capers (drained)
  • ½ to 1 cup black olives, drained, pitted and halved (not an exact science)
  • 2 tins peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tots tomato paste
  • 1 tot fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Cooking instructions

  1. Cook pasta in the potjie on the fire, remove when al dente and set aside.
  2. Add the olive oil and chopped onion to the now-empty pot and return it to the fire. Lightly fry the onion for about six minutes.
  3. Add the anchovies, garlic and chilli and stirfry for another two minutes, breaking up the anchovies with the spoon. The idea is for the anchovies to dissolve into the oil.
  4. Add the capers, olives, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well and simmer for about eight minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.
  5. Add ground pepper and salt to taste; go easy on the salt as the anchovies and capers already added saltiness to the pot.
  6. Add the cooked spaghetti and toss for a minute or two until everything is properly mixed and the pasta is heated through again. Garnish with chopped parsley.

(Serves 4 as a main and up to 8 as a side)



  • 1 ½ onion — large, sliced
  • 4x bay leaves
  • 2x red chilli — chopped
  • 8x garlic — cloves, sliced
  • 4x tinned tomatoes — chopped
  • 2x sun-dried tomatoes — marinated in vinaigrette, chopped
  • 1x cup water
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 heaped tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • salt — to taste
  • 4x fresh Italian parsley — finely chopped
  • 2 kg mussels — cleaned
  • 500g kingklip — cubed
  • 750g calamari — tubes
  • 1x lemon — cut into wedges, to serve


For the tomato base:

  • Heat the pojie on the braai or over a flame or a large cast iron pot on the stove on medium heat.
  • Add 45 ml oil and the onions.
  • Fry for a few minutes, stirring.
  • Add bay leaves and chopped chillis.
  • When onions have softened, add the pureed canned tomato and sundried tomatoes.
  • Cook, stirring for a few minutes, watching out for splattering – the sauce will start to thicken.
  • Add water, sugar, chilli flakes, fish sauce and salt.
  • Cook for 10 minutes, lowering the heat and allowing the flavours to develop.
  • Add the parsley
  • The sauce will continue to deepen in flavour as it cools.
  • Store in a cool place once cooled, if using the next day. If not, proceed with seafood.


  • Place potjie back on braai (or pot on stove). Taste and re-season, if you prefer.
  • Discard all mussels that do not open. You can tap them gently and give them a few minutes- some may open yet.
  • Add mussels and kingklip to the sauce. Allow to cook on medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.
  • In the mean while, dry the calamari on kitchen paper towels. Pan fry in a non stick pan, on high, with a tablespoon or two of olive oil until brown on both sides. Should take 30 seconds per side. Remove and add to potjie.
  • Mix all the seafood through the sauce gently and season one last time.
  • Serve with lemon wedges, more parsley and slices of crusty bread.
  • 1 serving Prep: 15 mins, Cooking: 15 mins



  • 3 tots butter (melted)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen, whatever is available)
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh cream (to serve)

 Cooking instructions:

  1. Mix the butter and sugar together in your cold potjie. Stir vigorously until they are well combined and no amount of stirring will persuade them to combine anymore.
  2. Add the egg and milk, and again, stir until everything is well and truly combined.
  3. Sprinkle the berries with a bit of the flour (about 1 tot), and keep to one side for now.
  4. Add the rest of the flour, baking powder and salt to the wet mixture in your potjie and mix, but this time don’t overdo it.
  5. Mix as little as possible to just get it to all come together.
  6. Add the floured berries and stir them in gently. Again, not too much mixing, just a few stirs so that the berries are combined with the rest of the batter.
  7. Cover your potjie with the lid and bake on medium heat for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Place some coals under the potjie and a few on the lid as well.
  9. The muffin is ready when the top is firm to touch and it is cooked through. Insert a skewer or knife in the middle and if it comes out clean, you know it is cooked.
  10. Serve warm from the potjie with some fresh cream.

Serves 8

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