Local Comfort Cuisine On A Budget

Although South African Winters aren’t as harsh as the rest of the world, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some local dishes that will help you and your family stay warm. Keep both your belly and your wallet full with these great family meals which are perfect if you are trying to cook on a budget and don’t want to scrimp on flavor or comfort. Suggested by the Royal Palm Hotels Head Chef, Qhawe Tshabalala, he says Hearty winter dinners don’t have to be big on cost to be big on flavor. Here are Tshabalala’s two dishes that are warming, delectable, and above all uniquely South African.

Recipe 1 – Beef Potjie: Nothing is more traditionally South African than a potjie and good company. Potjie is literally translated in English as “small-pot food,” but this is slightly misleading since most potjie meals are surprisingly large and filling. Traditionally, a potjie is a stew-like dish, prepared in a large three-legged cast iron pot which is placed over an open fire. Due to an array of available variations, potjies can either be meat-based or vegetarian. Regardless of its ingredients, potjie is a hearty and warming dish, ideal for a cold winter’s evening.


  • 1 tbp butter
  • 4 leeks, only the white parts, cut into discs
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cube beef stock
  • 1kg stewing beef, cubed
  • 1 tub cream cheese
  • 1 glass semi-sweet red wine
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped


  • Melt the butter in a potjie over the coals. Add the leeks and garlic, season with black pepper and let it sweat for about 10 minutes until the leeks are tender.
  • Add the mushrooms, crumble the cube of beef stock into the potjie and place the meat on top. Add the wine and (tightly) cover the potjie with its lid.
  • Let the beef potjie simmer over medium coals for about 2 hours. (Or bake it in an oven at 140 ºC for about 2 hours). Once the meat is tender, stir in the cream cheese. Sprinkle the parsley over the dish and serve immediately.

Recipe 2 – Idombolo (Dumplings)


  • 125 g cake flour
  • 125 g mealie meal
  • 1 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 4 tbp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250 ml warm water


  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Pour in the water and mix until you have a batter. Mix for 10 minutes to develop the gluten. Place in a lightly oiled bowl or plastic bag and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour.
  • Place dollops of the batter on top of your stew, cover the pot and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until puffed up.
  • If you want to make steamed bread, leave the batter in the bag, tie the end closed and place it on a trivet or metal vegetable steamer in a pot. Fill the pot about a quarter way up with water, don’t fill it any more otherwise you risk water getting into the bag.
  • Place the pot over a medium heat and steam for about an hour – keep filling up the pot up with water as necessary. Remove the bread from the bag before serving.
  • Serve with a stew recipe of your choice.

For more information visit: www.royal-palm.co.za or call: 031 581 8000 or email: info@royal-palm.co.za.

Steven Brown

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