A top view of a black cast iron black potjie on a wooden deck, the pot filled with what looks like yummy lamb and root vegetable stew.

Potjiekos Pot – With An Easy Recipe To Try

I’m not going to lie, cooking can be daunting. There are so many things to learn, techniques to master and recipes to try. When I was starting out, I found myself overwhelmed with all the options and didn’t know where to begin. 

That’s why I want to share with you one of my favorite beginner cooking guides: How to make a potjiekos pot. This is an easy recipe that even novice cooks can make without any trouble. Plus, it tastes delicious! Trust me, once you’ve tried this dish you’ll be ready to take on more challenging recipes. So let’s get started!

What is a potjie?

A potjie is a South African type of stew that is cooked in a potjie pot, a three-legged cast iron pot that is placed over an open fire or over coals [1]. The ingredients are added in layers, each layer is cooked before the next one is added. This method of cooking results in a stew that is full of flavor and nutrients.

A potjie can be made with any type of meat, vegetables and spices. The most important ingredient in a potjie is love and a lot of root vegetables. A potjie is not just a dish; it is an experience. It is a way of coming together and sharing memories.

I remember my dad used to make the best potjiekos when I was a kid. He would start early in the morning, peeling and chopping, basically preparing all the root vegetables by hand. The smell of onions, garlic, and carrots would fill the house, and my mouth would water in anticipation.

A closed three legged black cast iron potjie pot sitting on heated coals beside an open flame surrounded by well placed stones in what looks like someone’s backyard.

How to clean a potjiekos pot

Potjiekos pots are amazing. They produce food that is so full of flavor and by using them; you create moments that will last a lifetime. But, as with anything in life, they need to be cleaned properly to continue working their magic. Here’s how to clean your potjiekos pot:

  1. Remove the food from the pot and discard any leftovers
  2. Scrape the pot with a stiff brush to remove any hardened food
  3. Rinse the pot with hot water, being sure to get into all the nooks and crannies
  4. Fill the pot with hot water and a bit of dish soap, and then put it on the stove to boil for 10 minutes
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly before emptying it out and giving it a final rinse
  6. IMPORTANT – Apply a layer of olive oil (that is what I use) to the inside of your potjiekos pot and to the inside of the lid. You do not have to apply any oil to the outside of the pot.
  7. OPTIONAL – I fill the potjie pot with rolls or balls of newspaper to keep the pot oiled.

Now your potjiekos pot is clean and ready for its next adventure!

What do you cook in a potjie pot 

A potjie pot is a specialized type of South African cooking pot that is designed for outdoor use. The pot is usually made from cast iron, and it has three legs that allow it to be placed directly over an open fire. Traditionally, potjie pots were used to cook stews and casseroles, but they can also be used for baking, roasting, and braai-ing (barbecuing).

One of the benefits of cooking in a potjie pot is that it allows food to retain its natural moisture, resulting in dishes that are both flavorful and moist. Another advantage of using a potjie pot is that it heats evenly, ensuring that food is cooked through without becoming burnt.

A side close up of a closed well seasoned cast iron black potjie pot beside a blurred background of  an open flame with wood logs.

As a result, potjie pots are ideal for cooking slow-cooked dishes such as beef stew or lamb curry. If you’re looking for a way to add some excitement to your outdoor cooking, then consider using a potjie pot.

An Easy potjiekos pot recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 x 400g lamb shanks
  • 2 x medium onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 x can (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Optional – 1 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups x chunky vegetables
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a potjie pot over medium heat and add the lamb shanks. Cook for 10 minutes until browned all over, and then remove from the pot.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and diced tomatoes to the pot and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Return the lamb shanks to the pot and stir in the potatoes, red wine, oregano, coriander and paprika.
  4. Add enough water to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with a side of your favorite starch and enjoy!  
A white plate of a scrumptious looking meat and vegetables potjiekos stew with fluffy white rice with a crusty small roll it’s left and a three legged black potjie pot to its right, sitting on a wooden deck.

Before you go….

So there you go a beginner’s guide to potjiekos. You can now surprise your family and friends with this traditional South African dish next time they come over for dinner. Just remember the key to a good potjie is patience – so don’t rush it!

And if you need any more tips or recipe ideas, we have plenty on our website. So get cooking…and enjoy!

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Charlene Gallant

Charlene is a lover of good food. She enjoys nothing more than cooking up a storm in the kitchen and sharing her favourite recipes with her readers. She also enjoys reading a good book.

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