If ever there was a South African dish to remind us of our childhoods, cabbage bredie has to take first place. Such is the cabbage bredie’s delectable flavour; no serving is complete without a lekker stukkie roti to soak up the gravy dregs, yum!
For those Saffas unaware of the delights of a cabbage bredie, this is the missing piece of your childhood, which must be rectified immediately! Let’s wander through the last few hundred years and discover the mouthwatering delights of the Cape Malay cabbage bredie.
What is cabbage bredie?
Pronounced ‘bree-eh-die,’ bredie is the Malaysian word for stew. But those who have enjoyed a delicious bredie will know that calling it a stew is much like calling the Taj Mahal a house! Okay, maybe that’s a smidge of an exaggeration, but the point is there’s a lot more to the bredie than meets the eye or, rather, palate! Stews, unlike bredies, are cooked using large amounts of stock, while a bredie is cooked in the liquid produced by the vegetables.
Fun fact, the building of the Taj Mahal started in 1632, and the Dutch reached the Cape in 1652, so they’ve been around for almost as long as each other; just saying!
A typical South African cabbage bredie recipe consists of mutton, lamb, or beef cooked with a selection of vegetables. This mixture is infused with spices such as chili, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom and slow-cooked for hours. Hungry, anyone?
Of course, those who don’t eat meat can still enjoy a simple cabbage stew recipe consisting of potatoes, caramelised onions, cabbage (of course), and spices. The bredie, quite literally, is an all-inclusive dish that caters to every decerning palate and belly!
The history of the bredie
When it comes to cabbage bredie South Africa has a long and complicated food history with many cultural inflections, but none are as strong as those we get from delicious Cape Malay recipes. Why? Because long, long ago (around the 1600 mark), when the Dutch first reached the Cape, they brought enslaved people from East Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia; many of the women were expected to cook for the Dutch families.
The spice-filled recipes of these cultures blended to form the exquisite Cape Malay cuisine that has become ingrained into the colourful heritage we enjoy today.
What went into the perfect bredie?
Vegetable and meat offcuts provided to Dutch servants at the time gave them the necessary ingredients for cooking up large quantities of nutritious food for their families. A bredie could be made from any vegetables, bits of meat, and of course, copious amounts of flavoursome spices. Nothing much has changed today, with many a South African cabbage bredie recipe calling for the same ingredients.
South African cabbage bredie recipe
All this talk of slow-cooked meat and vegetables has bound to have got your tastebuds salivating. In fact, we’ll bet you’ve already started searching the net for tips on how to make cabbage stew South Africa. Well, your search is over because, in the next few sentences, we will provide you with the best Cape Malay cabbage bredie recipe you will ever make; aprons at the ready, everyone!
Cape Malay cabbage bredie
Cabbage bredie is a great dish for chilly winter evenings.
What you need:
- 500g beef, mutton, or lamb
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp salt for seasoning
- 2 large onions diced
- 4 allspice balls
- 1 green chilli chopped
- ½ cabbage head shredded
- 4 large potatoes peeled and quartered
What to do:
- Set the oven to 150 C and allow to preheat while you prepare the ingredients.
- Braise the meat using a heavy-based oven-proof dish over high heat. The trick is to get a thick crust on the meat without burning it. Set the meat to one side to rest while you move on to the next step.
- In a separate pan, add the onions, garlic, chili, and allspice; allow to caramelize until golden brown.
- Next, add the shredded cabbage to the caramelised onions, stir the mixture, and place a lid on the pan to allow it to cook down a little. You may want to add a drop of water if the cabbage sticks to the pan.
- Once the cabbage is cooked, add the braised meat and mix well. Allow the meaty cabbage mixture to cook on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.
- At this point, there should be enough vegetable liquid in the pot to add the potatoes. Add the spuds and season the bredie with salt and pepper.
- Replace the lid and allow the bredie to cook for 10 minutes on the stovetop before placing it all into an over-proof dish and popping into the preheated oven. Oven-cook the bredie for about 90 minutes or until the meat is tender.
- Serve with fluffy basmati rice, roti, and lashings of beetroot slaai!
Tips for cooking a great bredie
- Meat on the bone is better for bredies as it produces more flavour.
- Avoid using stock as it dilutes the vegetable flavour.
- Floury potatoes are best for epic bredies!
- Caramelising the onions is crucial for developing the sweet taste synonymous with bredies.
- Don’t skip braising the meat; it seals it, provides colour, and oodles of flavour.
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