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  • Writer's pictureNicky, Digital Researcher, Africa Analyst

Denningvleis - South African lamb stew

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

A traditional South African stew and a favorite for special occasions like Christmas dinner. The stew is typically made with lamb or mutton, prepared with ingredients such as tamarind, onions, garlic, cloves, bay leaves, allspice and nutmeg. It's important to use as little water as possible and braise the meat slowly when preparing this hearty stew.

The shoulder, rack of lamb, loin chop, ribs or shanks are usually the best cuts of lamb for this dish. The meat is cooked with a little quantity of water and braised slowly until it's done. This hearty stew is traditionally paired with South African yellow rice called geelrys.

Prep time: 120 minutes

Cook time: 60 minutes

Servings: 6


  • 3lbs lamb (chops or shanks)

  • 2 tbsp oil

  • 3 large onions, chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 6 whole cloves

  • 1 tsp allspice

  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1 tsp mustard seed

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1½ tsp salt

  • 4 tbsp tamarind paste

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

  • 1 cup water

Cooking Steps

  1. In a large ovenproof casserole, fry the chops in the oil until browned on all sides then remove the meat from the dish.

  2. Preheat the oven to 320° F

  3. Lower the heat and gently fry the onions and garlic in the ovenproof casserole until softened.

  4. Add the cloves, allspice, nutmeg, mustard, bay, salt, tamarind brown sugar, the browned lamb and water to the mix and stir until everything is well mixed. Add more water if needed.

  5. Place the lid on the casserole and transfer the casserole to the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

  6. Check on the meat, add more water if needed just enough to ensure the stew doesn’t dry out, then cook for another hour or until the meat is tender at 280 °F.

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