Traditional tomato bredie

When it comes to comfort food, tomato bredie must be up there as one of my favourites. It makes a great camping meal too. By Johann Groenewald

This tomato bredie (stew) recipe is a firm winter favourite in our family. I got the original recipe from a book by renowned South African chef Cass Abrahams, called Cass Abrahams Cooks Cape Malay: Food from Africa. Over time I’ve adapted it and worked out how best to serve it up in camp.

It’s really easy to make and perfect for a camping trip. And it gives you the perfect excuse to “kuier” around the fire for hours.


  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • Spice mix (see below)
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1kg mutton (I like to use a combination of meaty shin bones and chops, cutting away excess fat)
  • 3cm fresh ginger,  finely chopped (I double this amount as we love the taste of fresh ginger)
  • 1kg fresh and ripe tomatoes, chopped or substitute with three cans of tomatoes
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and halved (I like to cut them into chunks smaller than the meat so they cook easily)
  • Salt, ground pepper and sugar to taste
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (original recipe calls for fresh parsley)

Spice mix

I’ve adapted the combination of spices slightly. I also mix them all together and add in right from the start.

  • 2 whole cloves (original recipe calls for ½ tsp of ground cloves)
  • 5 whole cardamom pods (original recipe calls for two pods but I like more)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (do not substitute with ground cinnamon as this will overpower the taste)
  • ½ tsp peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice berries (not in the original recipe)
  • 3 whole star anise pods (not in the original recipe)
  • 2 bay leaves (not in the original recipe)

T4A tip: For overlanding trips, I mix all the dry spices at home and place the mixture in small plastic bags ready for one pot. This way you save a lot of space. I also use this spice mix for other bredies.


The original recipe calls for peppercorns and cloves to go in with the onions at the beginning, but I simply add in all the dry spices from the start.

  • Place onions, spices and water into your pot and bring to boil. Simmer until all the water has been absorbed or evaporated. Only now add in the oil and braise the onions until golden brown.
  • I like to cut the meat into large chunks – I also cut away the excess fat. I don’t like a very fatty potjie so the more you remove now the better. Add the meat and fresh ginger to the braised onions and stir thoroughly. Turn down the heat and cover your pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let it all simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Now add tomatoes and chilli and let it simmer until the meat is soft. The time required depends on the meat you use and how much you like to sit around and “kuier” with your pot.

T4A tip: If we are on our way for a weekend trip and I know we will be driving a lot, I precook up to this step at home. I use a pressure cooker for 20 minutes to get the meat tender. In this case, use only one can of tomatoes with the meat and keep the rest of the tomatoes for cooking at camp. I would freeze the meat, so when you start at camp you have saved yourself two or three hours of cooking time plus the messy part of prepping is done at home. Freezing the meat also allows fat to concentrate at the top of the container which can easily be removed.

  • Once the meat is tender and the tomatoes have formed a thick sauce you can add in the potatoes and simmer until these are cooked through. If I find that the colour of my bredie is not red enough and perhaps a bit watery, I add in a packet of tomato paste. It will give it a rich red colour and thicken the sauce. I know the purists might complain but why not?
  • Garnish the tomato bredie with fresh coriander and serve with rice or your favourite starch.

3 thoughts on “Traditional tomato bredie”

  1. Johan, baie lanklaas gesels.

    Ek het dit anderdag met rooibok gedoen, en omdat amper niks vet is nie het ek twee eetlepels klapper-olie (nou in die winter is dit eintlik klapperklinkers!) bygevoeg.

    Stem 100% saam met die tamatie-pasta – die tekstuur en smaak is net beter.

    1. Pieter, dis hoekom ek aartappels klein sny. Ek stem jy kan dit reeds vroeer in gooi, maar ek verkies dat my vleis eers sag genoeg is voordat ek dit doen. My vrou kook partykeer die aartappels apart en gooi dit dan in, maar ek hou meer daarvan as dit in die sous gaar word. Ek dink nie daar is n verkeerde soort aartappel nie, maar ek glo party vat seker langer as ander. Hoop dit help.

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