South African Recipes

Lamb Potjie: A Classic South African Pot Dish

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Lamb Potjie, a classic South African delight! Get ready for an adventure in your kitchen as we explore this flavourful, hearty, and simple to prepare dish.

lamb potjie surrounded by vegetables

Lamb Potjie

Gianpiero Rusconi
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine South African
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Potjie pot (Number 3 size would be great. If you don't have one, a Dutch oven or a large saucepan would do just fine)
  • 1 Wooden spoon (To give it a good stir)
  • 1 Sharp knife & cutting board (Chop, chop!)
  • 1 Measuring Jug (Keep those quantities right)


  • 1 kg Lamb neck slices (Great choice for tender, flavourful meat)
  • 4 large Potatoes (Spuds are the backbone of this dish)
  • 4 Carrots
  • 2 Baby Marrow (also known as courgettes or zucchini)
  • 2 medium Onions, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 400 g Chopped tomatoes
  • 500 ml Beef stock
  • 250 ml Red wine
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Mixed herbs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Heat the Potjie Pot: Get your pot on the fire or stove and add a glug of olive oil. We're ready for a sizzle!
  • Brown the Lamb: Add the lamb neck slices into the pot and brown them nicely on all sides. Take your time, this part is crucial for flavour. Once browned, remove and set aside.
  • Cook the Veggies: Add in your diced onions and minced garlic into the same pot and cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add Herbs and Tomatoes: Sprinkle in your mixed herbs, then pour in the chopped tomatoes. Give it a good stir.
  • Return the Lamb: Now's the time to put your browned lamb back in the pot.
  • Add the Stock and Wine: Pour in your beef stock and red wine. If you're opting out of the wine, just replace it with the same amount of stock.
  • Slow Cook: Cover your pot and let it all slow cook for about 2 hours. This is where all the magic happens!
  • Add the Rest of the Veggies: After the 2 hours, chuck in your potatoes, carrots, and baby marrow.
  • Final Slow Cook: Cover it again and let it simmer for another 30 minutes, or until your veggies are nice and soft.
  • Season to Taste: Give it a taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Keyword Lamb Potjie

lamb neck potjie with vegetables in pot

Historical Origin of Lamb Potjie

Potjie, pronounced ‘Poy-kee’, with the ‘Potjie’ referring to the three-legged pot used over an open fire, originates from the Dutch settlers, also known as the Boers, who journeyed to South Africa in the 17th century. Lamb Potjie, one of the most popular variations of Potjie, is often enjoyed during social gatherings, providing a rich, meaty centrepiece that everyone can dig into. The recipe has been passed down through generations, each adding a personal touch, making every Potjie unique.

Nutritional Value of Lamb Potjie

Lamb Potjie is a well-rounded meal, high in protein thanks to the lamb, and packed with vitamins and fibre from the vegetables. The tomatoes provide a healthy dose of Vitamin C and lycopene, while the carrots and baby marrow contribute to your daily intake of vitamins A, K, and C. However, like any hearty dish, moderation is key!

Tips and Tricks for Making Lamb Potjie

A crucial part of cooking Lamb Potjie is not to stir the pot after all the ingredients are added. This helps to layer the flavours, enhancing the distinct taste of each ingredient. Also, always remember to brown the meat first to seal in the juices. It’s a tiny step that makes a huge difference!

Best Occasions to Serve Lamb Potjie

Lamb Potjie is perfect for social gatherings, outdoor events, or a family Sunday lunch. This dish is a real crowd-pleaser, emanating warmth and comfort that’ll make your guests feel right at home.

Recipes and Sides That Go Well with Lamb Potjie

  • Salad: A fresh, zesty salad goes brilliantly with Lamb Potjie, providing a refreshing contrast to the hearty main. 
  • Braaibroodjie: A traditional South African Braaibroodjie (a grilled sandwich) also makes a lovely side, complementing the rustic flavours of the Potjie.
  • Pap or Bread: A bit of ‘pap’ (a kind of maize porridge) or a warm slice of bread goes down a treat to mop up the last of the succulent gravy.
  • Red Wine: If you fancy a drink to go with it, a robust South African red wine or a locally brewed lager pairs exceptionally well, enhancing the hearty flavours of the dish.

lamb potjie in pot with vegetables

Ingredient Alternatives

  • For vegetarians, swap the lamb for hearty root vegetables like butternut squash or sweet potatoes. You could also use vegetable stock instead of beef stock. 
  • If you’re unable to find baby marrow, substitute with bell peppers.

Troubleshooting (common cooking problems)

  • Too thick: If you find the stew too thick, add a bit more stock.
  • Too thin: If it’s too thin, remove the lid and allow the stew to simmer and reduce.
  • Burning: If the bottom starts to burn, reduce the heat and add a splash of stock or wine. The key is to keep a close eye and adjust as necessary. 

Other similar recipes / alternatives

  • Chicken Potjie: This aromatic and flavourful dish is an ideal alternative if you want to try something different but equally delicious.
  • Beef and Vegetable Potjie: A traditional South African dish that swaps out the curry spices for a sweet and savory custard-like topping.

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