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Hella Hearty Plant-based Potjiekos
Who doesn’t love one-pot meals, with minimal effort and maximum taste? This recipe is incredibly hearty and warming, perfect throughout autumn and winter. Potjiekos was originally brought over from the Netherlands to South Africa during the 17th century, and has become a South African staple ever since.
What does “potjiekos” mean?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with South African cuisine, the word “potjie” translates from Afrikaans to “little pot,” and “kos” to food. However, potjies aren’t your average pots, they’re made with cast iron. This means they can be used when camping or over your local “braai master’s” coals. Cast iron also retains its heat, which is why it has become the ideal tool used to cook potjiekos over long periods of time.
How does today’s potjie differ from a traditional one?
Meat and bone broth were the main ingredients back in the day, along with whatever alcohol they had with them (usually beer, old brown sherry or dessert wine) and minimal veg. The potjie would be carried along with the “Voortrekkers” from one base to the next, with new ingredients added to the leftovers each time they stopped for a meal.
Today, there are many delicious South African plant-based recipes out there that use plants as their star ingredients. The best part about this recipe is that you can make it in any pot, pretty much anywhere. The traditionalists out there may argue that no true potjie can be cooked this way, but I tell you what - it sure beats waiting for that next big event when the potjiekos cravings hit! It’s also super healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, oil-free and free from any animal products.
Sure, there’s something special about gathering around the fire with your “chommies,” sharing a laugh over a cold one, while the potjie slow-cooks in the background. However, there’s also something really awesome about being able to cook a potjie right in your kitchen, “sommer in a stainless steel pot!” Another upside to this method is that it only takes an hour or two to cook - as opposed to the lengthier, traditional way.
What’s the difference between potjiekos and a stew?
The main difference between potjiekos and a stew is that potjiekos shouldn’t be stirred until serving, and even then it’s best to dish the layers as they are. Some SAFFA’S don’t care for this rule and stir the potjiekos gently ever so often.
You can add half a can of chickpeas, beans or lentils to bring in extra protein if you like, but the flavours of the veggies shine enough on their own.
The order in which you layer the veggies is really important, as naturally there will be more heat coming from the bottom of your pot. The hardier veggies go at the bottom, working your way up with the softer veggies that cook more easily.
Serving size: 3 - 4
- 12 baby potatoes, whole
- 4 medium carrots, chopped into bite-sized chunks
- 2 large onions, cut in quarters
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 10-15 button mushrooms, whole
- 1 large celery stick, chopped
- 6 baby marrows, cut into bite-sized chunks
- ½ a bottle of dry red wine, use dessert wine for a sweeter outcome
- Half a can of your added protein of choice, optional
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ a cup of fresh coriander, chopped, or 2 tsp dried coriander leaves (not seeds)
- ½ tsp of smoked paprika
- ½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 tsp of dried
- 1 tsp of fresh rosemary, chopped, or 2 tsp dried
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ½ a tsp of cumin
- 1 tbsp soy or Worchester sauce
- 200ml water
- 1 tsp salt
- Pepper to taste
For those who like to play:
- To make a slightly sweeter potjie, add 2 tbsp of fruit chutney, like Mrs. Balls
- To make your potjie creamy, add half a can of coconut cream
- To add some heat, add 1-2 tsp of curry powder
Once you’ve chopped your vegetables, layer your potatoes, carrot, mushrooms, baby marrows, celery and onions in your pot - in this order, starting with your whole baby potatoes.
If you chose to add extra protein like lentils, add them now. Next, add your herbs, bay leaves, spices, chopped garlic, salt and pepper.
Pour your wine and water into the pot, over your veggies - as well as your coconut cream if you chose a creamy version. Don’t worry, the veg will release its own liquid as it cooks, so don’t use too much liquid to begin with.
Cover with a lid and allow to cook on medium heat for at least an hour, leaving it to cook for an additional hour for a softer result. Serve with rice.
- Try your best not to stir your potjie so as to keep the individual flavours of the vegetables from mixing.
- If you find that your potijie doesn’t thicken, you can stir it a bit before serving to break up the vegetables.
Tell us your food story
Have you tried a vegan twist on an old favourite? Which one was your favourite and why? Let us know in the comments down below or contact us to have your recipe featured on our site
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