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Karoo Recipes


BarbecuePotjieBoereworsMeat DishesPastry, Cake, BreadDesert

We invited people from Carnarvon to donate their favourite recipes.  It is a nice way to remember friends, for you will always think of them when you use their favourite recipe.  Not all recipes originated in the Karoo, but they are recipes used by people of the Karoo.   Quite a few may even have originated overseas and I believe many may have come to South Africa with the colourful array of immigrants and even slaves in the early history of our country.

 Barbecue Recipes

Lamb chopsKwaai braai pieSandwichesLamb Rib

A friend once said to me that the Californians, the South Africans and the Australians all think that they are the best in the world when it comes to a barbecue.   Maybe we should get them all together at some stage and see who is the best.

What I know for certain is that most South Africans love to barbecue (braai) and that everyone has his own methods and believes of how it should be done and usually the end result is  excellent. A word of advice- do not interfere with a South African when he is busy with his braai, even if you do not agree with his methods.  Let him be. He has done it many times before.  It will work out.

* Afrikaans terminology:

·         Bakoond – an outside wood-burning oven

·         Boerewors – a spicy farm sausage

·         Braai – a barbecue

·         Potjie – a stew, slow-cooked in an iron pot over an open fire.

·         Sosaties – meat kebabs, usually with a curry sauce



Having said what I have in the introduction about all the different ways which it can be done, I will none the less put my neck on the line to give the novice a few barbeque guidelines that work for me.

Lamb is usually used for a barbecue, because it is more tender, but we often use mutton as it is cheaper and it has more flavour.  It is however important to let it mature well beforehand to ensure that it is tender enough.


a.  I myself love whole saddle chops, but any type of lamb chops can work.  Leg chops are usually better value for money, but any part of the lamb can be barbecued.  My wife likes shoulder cutlets.  Many housewives nowadays prefer lean meat, but believe me it is not a good idea to barbecue lean chops.  They usually are tough and have less flavour.  It is much better to simply remove the fat before or after they have been cooked.

b.  Worcestershire sauce (I prefer the dark type)

c.  Coarse black pepper

d.  Coarsely ground coriander

e.  Salt to taste


Spread the cutlets out in a flat dish and sprinkle salt, black pepper and coriander sparsely over them.  Put a few drops of Worcestershire sauce on each cutlet and spread it evenly over the cutlet.  Follow the same procedure on both sides of the cutlet.   Put the second layer of cutlets on top of the first and repeat the procedure until all is done.

 It a good idea to do the preparation an hour or two beforehand to give the spices time to penetrate the meat.   If the tenderness of the meat is suspect, it may be a good idea to spice it the day before and store it in the fridge, until it is needed.

When it comes to the actual barbecue, there are so many beliefs and techniques that it is difficult to give advice.  I do not like underdone meat, but many people do.  What is nice about a barbecue is that you can actually cook the meat to everybody's preference.   Just leave the cutlets you want well done on the fire longer.

I prefer to cook my cutlets faster on hot coals so that they are nice and brown on the outside while still juicy on the inside (but not pink).  Other people like to put them higher and on less hot coals, so that they cook slowly.  Experiment and decide what works for you.

With the cutlets we usually cook some boerewors and I found that boerewors cannot burn easily, even if the coals are very hot.   It therefore works well to let it cook on hot coals until the one side is nice and brown and then turn it over only once and let it cook until the other side is also brown.  Once both sides are nice and brown the boerewors will be cooked just right, brown on the outside and juicy on the inside.  If you keep turning the boerewors, it will stay grey and all the juice will be lost as it will take longer to cook

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With rib of lamb, better results can be obtained by using a slightly different technique.


Use the same spices as for the cutlets, but use leaner lamb as it is not as easy to cut the excess fat off the rib, without damaging the rib.

If you prefer to barbecue a whole rib, you must ask your butcher to just cut through the bone at the inside of the rib while keeping the rib intact.  You can however also cut it up in small portions (8cm x 5cm) before cooking it.


Carve the meat on the outside of the rib (opposite of the bony side) in small strips with a sharp knife.  Be careful to keep the rib intact.  Rub the spices and Worcestershire sauce into the cuts.  By carving the meat the spices can penetrate better and the meat can cook until it is nice and crispy. 

Lamb rib tends to burn easily and therefore has to be cooked higher from the coals.  It therefore takes longer to cook and it is a good idea to put it in the grill and let the grill stand on its side next to the fire, right from the start.  In this way, when the coals are ready, it takes a shorter time to cook the rib until it is to your liking.

Tip:  You can make your own snacks by cutting the rib in thin strips, cover it with "spare rib" marinade and braai it beforehand until it is crispy.  Turn often and be careful not to let it burn.  Serve while it is hot for the guests to enjoy with their drinks.  

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Kwaai Braai Pie being prepared. Looks delicious and is delicious.

The Kwaai Braai Pie is ready after 20 minutes.

Click on photos to enlarge.


This pie is cooked over coals and is one of our favorites.  We make several variants with different types of fillings.   Some with meat and some vegetarian.   The leftovers can be enjoyed cold the next day.


Two rolls of puff pastry

Two double handfuls of sliced spinach

Any type of cooked meat, but smoked chicken breasts are nice

250 g bacon / One large onion / 1 red pepper / 1 yellow pepper

250 g mushrooms / 100 g Feta cheese / 100 g Cheddar cheese

100 g Mozzarella cheese / 1 egg / ¼ cup of milk


Give the dough time to defrost and roll out on a board.

Fry the onion and bacon and let cool slightly.

Cut the meat, spinach, cheese and peppers coarsely.

Place half the spinach on the dough with the meat on top of that, then the bacon and onions followed by the mushrooms.

On each layer sprinkle a little bit of Ina Paarman's Rosemary and Olive mixture and some coarsely ground black pepper.  No salt is needed as most of the ingredients are salty.

Now put on the three cheeses, followed by the rest of the spinach.

Close the pie with another layer of pastry, but first press the ingredients together with two hands otherwise the pastry may not completely cover it.  Fold in the borders so that they are properly sealed.   Brush the pastry with a mixture of the egg and milk.

Use a grill that has enough space (such as is normally used for thick portions of chicken or sandwiches) and grill not too near the coals.  Turn often and the pie should be ready in 20 minutes when it is nice and brown on the outside.  Cut in portions and serve.

For a vegetarian pie, simply leave out the meat.  The pie will still be delicious.  Try your own combinations for the ingredients.

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People from the Cape, such as myself, love sandwiches that have been toasted on the coals.

When preparing sandwiches to be toasted, be careful not to use ingredients that some of your guests may not like.   It is easy to compose sandwiches with the ingredients to suit different tastes and then mark them by using different colours of thread.


Thin slices of brown or white bread.

Margarine / Green pepper / Onion

Cheddar cheese


Salt, coarsely ground black pepper and oregano.

Different colours thread


Slice the different types of vegetables.

Make a normal sandwich with the vegetables, cheese, salt, pepper and oregano, keeping in mind the difference in preferences of your guests.

When toasting the sandwiches on an open grill without a top, it is best to tie all of them with thread to keep them together, but in the case of a grill with a top, only the ones that differ need be tied with different colours of thread for identification. 

The coals must not be too hot and normally the coals are just right after the meat has been barbequed.  The sandwiches do not take long to toast, but be careful to turn them over every half minute as  they burn easily.

Tip: Open the grill a few times at the start of the process to prevent them from sticking to the grill.  After a while, as they dry out on the outside, they will not stick to the grill anymore.

See "Roosterkoek" and "Potbrood" (pot bread) under bread.

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Lamb PotjieShin PotjieVegetarian Potjie

Biltong Potjie


The ingredients below need a no 3 to no 4 pot and should feed 10 to 12 persons.


2kg mutton or lamb.   Mutton needs more time to cook, but is more economical.   Any part of the carcass can be used, but for myself I prefer either neck or shank.

Salt and black pepper to taste

400 ml water

Cooking oil

500 g bacon

300 ml semi-sweet wine

5 ml dried thyme

5 ml dried parsley

5 ml flaked garlic

300 ml chopped green beans - frozen beans can be used, but the best is real young green beans cut into large pieces (5 cm).

5 large chopped carrots

6 to 8 chopped potatoes

1 packet of soup powder

1 tin of mushrooms or 250 g fresh mushrooms

Any other interesting and colourful vegetables can be used, such as butternut, baby marrows and pattypans.   Tinned vegetables can be added 10 minutes before the pot is ready.


If the bacon is fatty enough it can be fried in the pot, followed by the onions.  If it is lean bacon, it is best to fry the onions first in a little bit of sunflower oil and then the bacon in the oily pot.  By frying the bacon and onions in the pot, the flavor stays in the pot.   Put the bacon and onions aside to use later and fry the meat in the pot until brown.

Add salt and pepper to the meat as well as the rest of the spices.  Add water and cook for 90 minutes if you are using lamb and 2 hours if you use mutton. 

Always keep some water ready to add if necessary.  Be careful not to let the pot burn.

When the meat is ready or almost ready, you can start adding the rest of the ingredients in layers.

The first layer on top of the meat will be the fried onions and bacon, then layer the vegetables with the vegetables that takes longer to cook nearer to the bottom of the pot i.e. first the carrots, then the potatoes with the mushrooms right on top.  Each layer receives a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Be careful not to add too much salt.  It may even be better not to add any more salt as the soup powder still has to be added and it usually is salty enough.

After cooking for another 30 minutes the vegetables will be ready.  The soup powder can be mixed with a little bit of water and added to the pot with the wine.   Cook for another 10 minutes and then stir slightly, taking care not to mash the ingredients.

Enjoy the meal with freshly baked bread.


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3 onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

Mixed herbs, thyme and oregano

to taste

1 cube chicken stock, dissolved in 1,5 litres boiling water

1 can tomato & onion mix

500 g shell pasta, cooked

250g mushrooms, sliced

250ml cream

400g sliced biltong

400g cheese, grated


Brown the onions, pepper and garlic.

Add herbs to taste

Mix in the stock, tomatoes, pasta, mushrooms and cream.

Simmer for 10 min.

Add biltong.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and cook for another 10 min.




Use a no 3 or 4 pot.  The ingredients below should be enough for 10 to 12 persons.


2 kg of lamb shin

salt and pepper to preference

4 medium size onions - chopped

4 cloves of garlic - chopped

2 x 410 g tins of peeled, chopped tomatoes

1 tin of chick peas

1 tin (115 g) of tomato paste

1 large butternut, peeled and chopped. (800 g of prepared butternut)

1 cube of beef extract dissolved in 250 ml of water

½ cup of red wine

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons grounded coriander

2 desert spoons honey

6 bay leaves

3 desert spoons white flour

cooking oil



Roast the meat in some oil in the pot until brown.  Add salt and pepper and 400 ml of water.  Cook the meat on medium hot coals for 90 minutes.

While the meat is cooking, fry the onions with the coriander and cumin in a saucepan until slightly brown, add the garlic and fry a bit longer.

Slowly add the beef extract, honey, wine, tomato paste, tomatoes and flour while stirring continuously.  Add the bay leaves and bring to boil.

When the meat has been cooking for 90 minutes, it should be nearly done.  Now add the contents of the saucepan to the pot, as well as the chick peas and butternut.  Salt and pepper lightly and cook for another 30 minutes.  Stir carefully not to mash the contents and serve with rice.

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BOEREWORS (Elize van der Westhuizen)

This Boerewors (sausage) recipe has been in Elize's family  for many generations.  In stead of beef and pork just mutton and sheep fat is often used in the Karoo. The preferred fat is that of the indigenous fat tailed sheep.

                   10 lb / ±4.5 kg Beef                             2 tbsp ground Coriander

            2 lb / ±1 kg Pork                     1 tbsp ground Cloves

            3 lb / ±1.5 kg Bacon                 1¾ tbsp ground All Spice / Pimento

            3 tbsp Salt                               1½ tsp ground Nutmeg

            1 tbsp ground Pepper                2/3 cup Vinegar

 1.  Cut the beef and pork meat  into 1 to 1½ inch cubes. Dice the bacon into ± 1

     inch pieces. Grind the meat coarsely .

2.  Mix the salt and spices together and mix it well with the meat. Add the

     vinegar and mix again. Rest for 1 hour.

3.  Mix again well and then fill the sausage casings firmly but not too tightly with

     the meat mixture.

( I find it easier to mix the spices with meat before mincing it.  In the old days people had more time and patience and maybe the result was better)


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