Suid-Afrika – Potjie – South Africa

Before the arrival of the settlers, migrants to Southern Africa had learned the use of the cast iron pot from Arab traders and later the Portuguese colonist.   These cast iron pots perfectly suited the nomadic lifestyle of the indigenous tribes and  Voortrekkers during the 17th and 18th centuries.  The Voortrekkers traveled with their pots hooked under their wagons. The pots and their contents protected with a layer of fat. When the wagons stopped at the end of the day, the pots were unhooked and the available meat was stewed with potatoes and vegetables.       

Cast-iron pots | ©Tikkho Maciel/Unsplash

Before the arrival of the settlers, migrants to Southern Africa had learned the use of the cast iron pot from Arab traders and later the Portuguese colonist.   Cast iron pots were ideal for cooking food as they were able to retain heat well and only needed a few coals to keep the food simmering for hours. The pots allowed steam to circulate instead of escaping through the lid making them ideal for cooking tender roasts and stews. Ingredients were kept simple with meat, potatoes and some vegetables.   

The Origins of Potjiekos

Potjiekos, pronounced ‘poi-key-cos, is directly translated as ‘pot food.’ The dish consists of a variety of ingredients, typically meat and vegetables, layered in a round cast-iron pot and placed on open coals. This style of cooking dates back to the 1500s and epitomizes South African cuisine, rivaled only by the ever-so-popular braai.   With the arrival of the first Dutch settlers in the Cape, came their tradition of cooking food in heavy cast iron pots. These pots hung from the kitchen hearth above the fire.  The Dutch hutspot came to life in the Netherlands during the Siege of Leiden in 1574 during the Eighty Years’ War. Hutspot, which is still cooked at the annual remembrance day of the Siege of Leiden, closely resembles potjiekos, as it is a layered mix of vegetables and often meat.   The original hutspot recipe came from the cooked bits of vegetables left behind in pots by Spanish soldiers during the siege, which the hungry Leideners then ate. The dish became a symbol of their victory and has been adapted to modern times.   When the Dutch settlers arrived in the Cape in 1652, their tradition of cooking in cast-iron pots came with them. These containers were ideal for the time, as they retain heat extremely well and as such food simmers for hours on end – resulting in tender roasts and stews. The pots were also perfect for storing meat until the next cook.

A Brief History of Potjiekos, South Africa’s Favorite Stew


De Nederlandse hutspot kwam tot leven in Nederland tijdens het beleg van Leiden in 1574 tijdens de Tachtigjarige Oorlog. Hutspot, die nog steeds wordt gekookt op de jaarlijkse herdenkingsdag van het beleg van Leiden, lijkt sterk op potjiekos, want het is een gelaagde mix van groenten en vaak vlees.  Het originele hutspotrecept kwam van de gekookte stukjes groenten die tijdens het beleg in potten achterbleven door Spaanse soldaten, die de hongerige Leidse burgers vervolgens aten. Het gerecht werd een symbool van hun overwinning en is aangepast aan de moderne tijd.

Toen de Nederlandse kolonisten in 1652 in de Kaap aankwamen, kwam hun traditie van koken in gietijzeren potten met hen mee. Deze containers waren voor die tijd ideaal, omdat ze de warmte extreem goed vasthouden en als zodanig urenlang suddert – resulterend in zacht gebraad en stoofschotels. De potten waren ook perfect voor het opslaan van vlees tot de volgende kok.


ENJOY BEN … only a few videos – there are much more

Image result for history of potjiekos leiden


On this episode of This is Potjiekos Ben Kruger explains to us the history of the Potjie pot and how it came to South Africa.

MELKKOS – food of milk as base
Recipe: – Add 4 cups of room temperature milk – 1 cup of of fresh cream – 1 cup of sugar – 1 whole egg – Whisk it all together and put inside your potjie – Then add 1 cinnamon stick for flavour and put your potjie on a low set fire – Then you must roll out your pastry till it becomes thin – Then you cut your pastry into small strips and put them in the pot – After a few minutes you remove the cinnamon stick and serve


Different Styles


In this weeks episode of Potjiekos, Ben Kruger provides some tips on how to manage your fire when preparing your potjie. He also provides a great tip on how to turn your potjie into an oven. Enjoy


Ben Kruger explains how to take care of your Potjie Pot

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