A Taste of South Africa - Tomato Bredie

This Tomato Bredie photo was featured in Brazilian Magazine blog, Verdemar - Copa de Sabores: África 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: suite101.com)

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