One of the many Cape Malay recipes that has become popular and a favorite among all South Africans is a traditional Cape Malay bredie.
A bredie is a simple slow cooked meat and vegetable stew that is a staple on many a dinner table during cold wet winters in the Cape. There are countless variations and each family has their own favorite.
In our family the favorite bredie recipe is without a doubt this Cape Malay Sugar Bean bredie. Cauliflower (blomkool) bredie, Oxtail and tomato bredie and Green Bean bredie are very close runners up. The nourishing bredies are traditionally served with fluffy and fragrant long grain white or basmati rice and a lightly pickled onion and tomato or cucumber salad.
Types of Cape Malay bredie
A typical Cape Malay bredie starts with caramelised onions to which lamb, beef or chicken is added and braised slowly until tender and rich brown in color. To this magical mix you may add different combinations of fresh vegetables or cooked dried pulses.
The variations of Cape Malay bredie recipes made with lamb, beef or chicken as the main protein base plus any of the following vegetables, pulses and legumes include:
- Suikerboontjie bredie – with pre-cooked dried half white sugar beans
- Botterboontjie bredie – with pre-cooked dried or canned butter beans
- Blomkool bredie – with cauliflower and potato
- Kopkool bredie – with cabbage and potato
- Tamatie bredie – with fresh ripe tomatoes and potatoes
- Worteltjies en ertjies bredie – with carrots, peas and potatoes
- Snyboontjie bredie – with green beans and potatoes
- Pampoenkos bredie – with pumpkin or butternut squash
- Lense bredie – with lentils
- Sago bredie – with sago pearls and potatoes
Tips to make the best ever Cape Malay bredie
- Caramelize the onions until they are dark golden brown but not burnt, to give a depth of flavor and sweetness. This will add layers of flavor to the bredie that are absent when the onions are not caramelised well. If you are unsure of how to go about it then my How to make Caramelised Onions like a Pro will be a great help.
- Brown the meat with the onions to add color to the meat as well as intensify the flavor.
- Use meat on the bone for added flavor. The best cuts of lamb for slow cooking in bredies are lamb knuckles, neck, thick ribs or oxtail and they are excellent cheaper cuts suitable for the slow cooking of bredies. Don’t bother using lamb chops as they will break down too quickly.
- You may also use chicken if you prefer to cut down on red meat.
- Do not add water, except to stop the bredie catching on the bottom of the pot. Slow cooking with the lid closed will create it’s own liquid and moisture and concentrate the flavour.
- When cooking soaked dried beans, do not add salt to the beans when boiling them as it will cause the beans to toughen. Adding half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda to the soaking water creates an alkaline environment that assists in softening the beans and reducing the sugars that cause flatulence.
- Do not add potatoes to sugar beans, lentils, butternut or pumpkin bredie.
- Use salt, coarsely ground black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves or allspice for aromatics.
- Use floury potatoes for any other vegetable bredies like cabbage, cauliflower, green bean, tomato, sago or carrots and peas bredie.
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