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Potjiekos: Small Pot Food!

Updated on March 31, 2014


An irresistible, traditional South African dish known as Potjiekos ("Small Pot Food").
An irresistible, traditional South African dish known as Potjiekos ("Small Pot Food"). | Source

Discover Delectable South African Cuisine

(Article can also be found in "Skipping Stones" magazine. Vol: April - June 2014.)

By Romi N. Andrews © 2014

Imagine yourself in Cape Town, South Africa. 32 degrees Celsius (89 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s summer and that means three things: sun, fun and…good food!

So what do you want to do first? Take a dip in the cool, Atlantic Ocean where African penguins bob on the water next to you? Or listen to the ocean crash against the rocks and catch a majestic, Wandering Albatross in flight. But your trip would not be complete without gazing upon the Eighth Wonder of the world: Table Mountain. Watch how fluffy clouds form a tablecloth on this lovely, natural landmark!

But all this adventure is bound to make you hungry. So let’s take a journey into some scrumptious, South African cuisine and learn how to make “Potjiekos” - an Afrikaans word meaning Small Pot Food.

The first essential item you’ll need is a cast iron pot. It is the unspoken rule: you cannot make this tasty, traditional stew without it.

Gather around your friends and family. Let the adults get a good fire going, once those coals are hot, that’s the time to get cooking!

Here’s a fun thing to try: try making ice tea out of Rooibos Tea and serve with your meal. You can toss a couple of lemon wedges in there too. This exotic and refreshing beverage will be sure to delight your friends and family. And mom can be rest assured that this iconic South African tea is packed with goodness!

My father, who I adore, was the inspiration for this article. He taught me the wonder and magic of Potjiekos.

By Romi N. Andrews © 2014


  • Oil
  • Onions
  • Mutton knuckles
  • Carrots, diced
  • Green beans, diced
  • Potatoes, chopped into wedges
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Add oil to the pot. Next, you brown the onions. Then you add the mutton. (The important things to remember are that the mutton is on the bottom of the pot, and the vegetables are on the top. Also be careful not to add too much water.)
  2. Next add the vegetables in a specific order: diced carrots, green beans, potatoes, cauliflower, pumpkin or butternut. After the vegetables have been packed on top, add water (as required) and salt and pepper (adjust according to taste).
  3. The pot does not need to be stirred; heat is kept low with coals (no flame). A Potjiekos dish is traditionally served with rice and buttered rolls.


South Africa makes up about one percent of the Earth's land surface, but almost ten percent of the world's plant species, bird and fish inhabit this country.


Near to Johannesburg, South Africa there are caves known as Sterkfontein. Inside these caves, archaeologists have discovered some of the earliest human fossils known to man. Some of these fossils are believed to be more than two million years old! This unearthing earned this area the nickname "Cradle of Humankind."

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© 2014 Romi Natasha Andrews


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