Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.



A Taste of South Africa - Tomato Bredie

This Tomato Bredie photo was featured in Brazilian Magazine blog, Verdemar - Copa de Sabores: √Āfrica do Sul

Tomato Bredie LS 2 WM

One of my favorite book series is the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series writted by Alexander McCall Smith, a Zimbabwe born, Scottish writer. The stories are set in Botswana, the country to the North of South Africa, and the lead character is a traditionally built Botswanian woman, Mma Ramotswe, who, assisted by her bright secretary, Mma Makutsi, sets up the first and only detective agency in the country run by women.

They solve the problems that are brought to them using a combination of womanly intuition and insight, backed by advice from the fictional Clovis Andersen's book The Principles of Private Detection and many many cups of African bush tea. The books make a wonderful read not only for the entertaining plot lines but also their emphasis of principles of life, love and happiness. They always make me smile and feel good about life!

Anyway, the reason I brought that book up is that it was the first thing that came to my mind, when I saw Meeta's Monthly Mingle theme. This month, she suggested we dabble in South African cuisine and tell her about it. I remembered this book and some of the mouthwatering meat stews that are mentioned in the book.

Botswana is South Africa's neighbour and I thought that there must be shared cuisine. I wanted a stew reminiscent of Mma Ramotswe's cooking. When I came upon Tomato Bredie, it struck a chord and I decided that would be my choice of dish for a taste of the bush lands of Southern Africa!

Tomato Bredie WM

"Bredie" in Afrikaans means "stew" and derives from the Portugese word "bredo", used to describe boiled greens. Presumably, the term and the dish were introduced in the region by Portugese sailors. The stew is usually made with mutton spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and chilli and served with rice.

The Dutch East India Company founded a settlement at the tip of Africa, almost halfway along the old sea route to India, in the middle of the 17th century. European farmers were allowed to immigrate and establish themselves there to make this outpost (at what is now Cape Town) viable. They were joined by French Huguenots in the latter part of the 17th century, who brought their knowledge of food and wine. The only equipment these settlers received upon arrival in the Cape was an 'ysterpot' (steel pot), which meant they had to fall back on their native stews. (Courtesy:

Tomato Bredie LS 3 WM

Verdict: I cannot sing enough praises about it. It was wonderfully flavorful, rich and so satisfying. I served the bredie with aromatic rice using the same whole spices as were in the bredie, accentuating the flavors beautifully. I had also marinated the meat overnight in a marinade of ginger, five spice powder and salt. This really helped flavor the meat itself and break down the protein resulting in a very tender and juicy stew meat.

By the way, the stew itself was very close in flavor to the Papeta nu Gosht that Parsis make, which, in itself is not surprising, given Cape Town's prominence as a major port along a major trade route carrying spices from the East to Europe.....

Tomato Bredie

** I used a pressure cooker to cook the meat, so it gets done much faster than stewing stovetop in a dutch oven. If you don't have a pressure cooker, just cook in a covered vessel until meat is cooked and potatoes are tender. **

1 lb lamb shoulder (bone in, it adds so much flavor), diced into 1 inch cubes
2 medium onions, diced fine
3-4 ripe tomatoes, diced fine
2 green chilies, diced fine
2 inch chunk of ginger, minced or diced fine
3 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup chicken/beef stock
4-5 whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves
2-3 cardamom pods
1 -2 tsp sugar (as per taste)
salt, pepper as needed
1 T butter
1 T flour


2 inch chunk of ginger, minced
2 tsp all spice powder
salt per taste

The previous night, coat the meat pieces with the marinade and massage into the meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You can leave it in for 24-48 hours.

To make the stew, roast the cloves, cinnamon, whole peppercorns in a little bit of oil. Once they start to release their aromas, add the onions and saute until browned. Add the meat along with ginger and cardamom and brown all sides of the meat. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli, stock, salt and pepper and stir well. Cook for five more minutes.

At this point if you are using a pressure cooker, add the potatoes as well, transfer to the cooker and let is steam for 3-4 whistles. If not, continue cooking until meat is almost done. Then, add potatoes and simmer until they are tender.

When the stew is cooked through, melt the butter in a small pan and add the flour to it. Cook for a minute and then add the roux to the stew to thicken. Serve over hot aromatic rice (below) and some fresh diced tomato.

Aromatic Rice

2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
4 whole peppercorns
2 bayleaves
salt to taste
1-1/2 cups long grain rice, washed and drained
water as needed

In a little bit of oil, roast the spices until they release their aromas. Add the rice and salt and roast for a few minutes until evenly coated. Add water, cover and boil until all the water has evaporated and the rice has been cooked. Gently, fluff with a fork to ensure even seasoning.

Tomato Bredie in bowl WM


  1. Perhaps this is just my ignorance on the part of pressure cookers, but what does it mean to cook for 2-3 whistles?

    May try this in the slow cooker; who can ever say no to lamb and spices?

  2. Hey Catherine, whistle is the sound that the steam, escaping from a pressure cooker, makes. For different food items, the time needed for cooking can be measuring in the number of such escapes/whistles..

    You can definitely make the stew in a slow cooker. It would be fantastic! I would just add the potatoes in the last hour so they don't get mushed up...

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  4. What a color...luved the pic!! Is that ur scarf or dupata?:)

  5. A good bredie is a heaven sent in winter months - you've done a great job in showcasing our unique cuisine!

  6. I loved the first No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book. I should get the others. This stew sounds so flavorful and delicious. Love how you photographer it.

  7. I love that series of books! What a beautiful stew this is - and the flavors sound so complex and rich.

  8. I like what you did with the rice. I have done something similar with chicken broth but not with spices. It is a cool idea.

  9. Yay! I love No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (but must admit, I only watched the TV show and haven't read the books!)

    This dish looks amazing, and uses some of my rather ignored spices (like allspice).

    I'll have to try making a vegetarian version... yum!

  10. That looks seriously good and I love the photos with that scarf running through the frame. Beautiful and colorful!

  11. This looks amazing, the lamb sounds so tender and flavorful in this preparation!

  12. What a great stew! I'll make this dish soon, with the help of the slow cooker (eventhough I do have a pressure cooker!)

  13. It's so cold here right now, this stew looks so comforting! I don't know much about African food (I don't even know where Botswana is!) but it looks really interesting!

  14. it looks absolutely delicious..i totally love the recipe.. :)

  15. U have a wonderful blog with deliciousness galore here!
    Love ur pics too!!
    ru based in India and u love to bake too?
    Then sure have a super giveaway lined up for u here-

  16. beautiful pics asha
    and saw them on tastespotting too .. how cool is that!! :D

  17. Asha, This tomato bredie looks amazing! I love all of the spices in the bredie recipe. I'm going to file this away for a time when I can make it - soon hopefully before it gets too hot here. I also am going to try the aromatic rise. Fabulous picture!!!

  18. This looks and sounds amazing! I'm dying to try this ASAP!

  19. Beautiful styling and absolutely gorgeous dish! thanks for sharing.

  20. Ooh what a unique and delicious recipe. Yum!

  21. Asha! I have seen that series of books before - I know you are a great book lover so I may give it a try! The recipe looks delicious as well! So comforting for the winter season that's upon us now in Sydney.

  22. I can smell the spices! Beautiful pictures and great recipe...

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  23. I remember visiting you a few times earlier this year. I love your site and wish you could get a subscribe by e-mail plug in attached to your site so I could get your new posts in my mail box. Then I would not miss them. I find I love this kind of food, and really need someone to teach me... thus love this post. I am really getting into spices from the east, lately and am enjoying so many different flavour profiles previously quite foreign to me. This rice looks fragrant and really new (to me), yet not difficult to make.

  24. Hey Valerie, appreciate your feedback.
    I have added a button for subscribing by email. Hope that makes it easier to access my posts. :))

  25. ahhh bredie .... yum! I was only introduced to them post marriage to the Husband, but they are good aren't they? my favourite is a bean bredie! yours looks great though!

  26. I love the flavors of South African cuisine. I just finished the last of my Chicken Breyani, which was superb. I will have to give this a try.
    My blog celebrated Africa Day with a collection of recipes from across the continent. I would love your thoughts.

  27. Hello! Thank you very much for this recipe! The bredie was really flavoreful and tasty :) We have enjoyed it so much that I have also reposted it on my blog :)


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