Tag Archives: tradition

Cold weather food

Cold weather food
Wet winter weather, cold days, and colder nights are conducive to enjoying a good potjie (pronounced poy-kie) cooked over open coals. "Potjiekos" is the official term for this traditional meal.

"Potjie" is an Afrikaans word meaning "little pot", interpreted in this context as a cast-iron pot. The idea is that one places the pot over a few coals and adds meat, onion, herbs and spices, letting them simmer until the meat is nicely browned. You can then add vegetables in layers (this allows the vegetables to keep their individual flavour so that you don't end up with veggie-mush), starting with harder vegetables like carrots and baby-marrow, and then working your way up from butternut and cauliflower, through to cabbage and potato pieces right at the end. Keeping the potato near the top of the stack is kinda important - otherwise you'll end up with mushy potato at the bottom of the pot.

Note the following critical success factors:

  1. don't even think of stirring the vegetables
  2. don't peek under the lid until quite some time has passed (like an hour or so)
  3. when you do peek, check that the meat and onion at the bottom aren't burning
  4. you shouldn't need to add water (this isn't soup or a stew ;) )
  5. if the potatoes on top are cooked and there's still a whole lot of liquid in the pot, leave the lid off so that it can boil away

Once the potatoes are cooked, and the liquid (drawn from the veggies) has cooked away, your potjie should be ready to eat. Oh, and like a typical guy, I forgot to mention: remember to cook some rice before the pot is ready... :)

I'd be interested to know if any of our readers have ever tried cooking a vegetarian potjie. Please leave a comment if you have - I'd love to know what one can use as a substitute for meat at the bottom of the pot.