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February 2013: More of our South African legends – Dr. Christian Frederik Louis Leipoldt

By April 18, 2015October 6th, 2023Newsletter

February 2013: More of our South African legends – Dr. Christian Frederik Louis Leipoldt

April 18, 2015

Dr. Christian Frederik Louis Leipoldt (28 December 1880 – 12 April 1947) was a celebrated South African who apart from Afrikaans poetry wrote novels, plays, stories, children’s books, a travel diary and great cookbooks. He is regarded as one of the greatest of the Afrikaner poets of all times. If you’re longing after a truly traditional South African dish, Kos vir die Kenner is a must read. Alternatively try his Tomato Bredie recipe. To die for!

Leipoldt’s Recipe for Tomato Bredie

“Tomato bredie must be a well-spiced tomato purée, surrounding tender bits of meat magnificently impregnated with its flavour. It must not be too watery, and it must never, never be greasy, so when the lid is taken off the pot for the open evaporation cooking for the last couple of hours, all the superabundant fat should be artfully skimmed off, without removing any of the essential gravy. When properly made it is a magnificent dish, always to be served with white rice and boiled potatoes.

Peel two pounds of ripe tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water and removing the thin skin, cut them into quarters, add a couple of green ones. Take two pounds of thick rib of mutton, as fat as you can get; cut it up into neat slices; dry and dust with flour; put it into a shallow saucepan with a pound of sliced onions, three sliced leeks or shallots, half an ounce of green ginger, a few cardamoms, coriander seeds, peppercorns and fennel seeds, and crushed thyme, marjoram and garlic leaves. If you like your bredie hot, add a crushed chilly and plenty of black pepper. Braise all this with sheep fat and when the meat is nicely browned, add the tomatoes; cover closely and let it simmer for several hours, very slowly, shaking frequently. Then add salt to taste, a teaspoonful of chutney sauce and a tablespoon of moist sugar, and let it simmer for another couple of hours, with the lid off, till it is thickened. Finally add a glass of wine and serve.”

You’ll need:

    1. 1.5 kg Lamb (1/3 thick rib bone in, 2/3 boned shoulder is a good combination),
    1. 3 medium onions, chopped,
    1. 2 cloves garlic, sliced,
    1. a 2cm piece of fresh green ginger, peeled & finely chopped,
    1. 1 Tbs sunflower oil,
    1. 2 cardamom seeds,
    1. 4 coriander seeds,
    1. 6 black peppercorns,
    1. 1 tsp fennel seeds,
    1. 2 tsp fresh crushed thyme,
    1. 1 tsp fresh chopped marjoram,
    1. 2 small chilly red or green, seeded & chopped – leave seeds and veins for extra heat,
    1. sea salt,
    1. freshly milled black pepper & fresh-grated nutmeg to taste,
    1. 500ml rich brown lamb or beef stock
    1. 750ml tomato juice from the tin below
    1. 500g medium potatoes – peeled & quartered,
    1. 1250g net weight with juice of canned peeled tomatoes,
    1. 1 Tbs mild fruit chutney,
    1. 1 Tbs soft brown sugar


In a casserole, on top of the stove, brown all the meat, a few pieces at a time in the oil over medium heat. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Fry the onions very slowly in the oil for a while, then add garlic and ginger and fry until golden. Add a little more oil though only if necessary. Just before they are done, add the cardamom, coriander, peppercorns, fennel, thyme, marjoram and chili. Stir-fry for a short while. Pour off any excess oil before continuing. Return the meat to the casserole and season lightly with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg.

Add the stock and the tomato juice and cover. Braise gently over low heat, checking for burning or in a 180C oven for an hour and a half. Remove from the oven. If you have the time, cool quickly and refrigerate overnight. This is an important step to mature the flavours. It also gives you the opportunity the following morning to remove the cold solidified fat of the top and helps to tenderise the meat and makes it cook faster the next day.

Next day, reheat the casserole gently in a 180C oven before adding the roughly chopped tomatoes and potatoes. Simmer gently for one and a half-hours or until the meat is tender. Stir gently to mix through well. Add the chutney and brown sugar; re-season with salt and freshly milled black pepper if necessary.

Serve this with a Pilaf of Basmati rice and green beans.