Denning Vleis / Meat

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This lamb dish is one of the oldest recorded recipes in South African cuisine.  It has a sweet – sour taste and its spices are very evocative of Indonesian cuisine. Serve with yellow or savoury rice, mashed potatoes and boiled vegetables.

**Savoury rice recipe below**


1.5-2.0kg boneless lamb pieces

3 large onions (or 5 regular size onions)

50ml oil for frying the onions


6-8 big cloves garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

6-8 whole cloves

6-8 whole allspice

1 teaspoon mustard seed

4 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar

20ml sugar (optional)


Trim the fat from the meat, remove the bones and cut the meat into pieces. Wash and drain.

Roughly chop the onions.

Combine marinade ingredients, add meat. Marinade the meat for at least one hour.

Heat a little oil in a heavy based pot and fry onions until golden brown.

Add the marinated meat to the onions and cook until meat is very tender and juicy. If you have the time, let it simmer on very low heat for a further half hour. If the meat gets too dry add some water.

Delicious served with yellow rice, mashed potatoes and boiled squash.

Cook’s tip:

Soak 50ml tamarind in 100ml water and add to marinade ingredients instead of vinegar or lemon juice.

Serves 4

2 cups uncooked  long  grain rice or basmati rice
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cardamom pods
2 stick cinnamons
100g butter
1 teaspoon salt
Handful chopped dhanya/fresh coriander

Parboil the rice until half cooked.
Pour into a colander, rinse, leave the rice in the colander whilst preparing the onions.
Heat your saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, melt, add the cardamom and stick cinnamon. Add the onions. Braise the onions until golden brown. Add the half cooked rice, salt and a cup of water. Heat the rice until warmed through. Add the dhanya/coriander, stir with a fork to loosen the grains and turn the heat off. Leave the sealed saucepan on the stove, the retained heat will complete the cooking process and any water left will be absorbed leaving you with fluffy and tender.

Add a cup of mixed vegetables with the rice before steaming.
Add a tin of drained chick peas with the rice before steaming.

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2 thoughts on “Denning Vleis / Meat

  1. […] aren’t spicy, partly because the Europeans they’ve catered to generally don’t like spice. Try denning vleis (lamb tenders in brown-onion tamarind sauce) or bobotie (spiced mince with egg-based topping and  […]

  2. […] a traditional Cape Malay pastry sprinkled with coconut. You can just call it a donut! Denning vleis is a popular Cape Malay dish among the Indonesian descendants in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. It consists of […]