Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew from South Africa. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew from South Africa

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This tomato bredie recipe makes a classic Cape Town stew. This bredie (an Afrikaans word meaning ‘stew’) is a slow-cooked mutton and tomato stew. The variety and amount of spices added have an infinite variety of permeations. This is my version of the tomato bredie inspired by our time in Cape Town.

Jet lag makes you do the strangest things. We had arrived at our Camps Bay holiday rental in Cape Town in the late afternoon after three flights that took us half way around the world, desperate to try to get our body clocks – by this stage just a collection of springs and gears in a shoebox – on local time.

We forced ourselves to go for a walk along the beach at Camps Bay then headed out to dinner, even though our bodies just wanted to head straight for the sheets and pillows, and dreams of not flying for a very long time. Of course the next morning at 5am, I was sitting upright in bed wide awake.

With Lara sleeping soundly, I tip-toed downstairs to make some tea. As the jug slowly boiled, I checked out the kitchen. Wow. Clearly someone here loved to bake, judging by all the oven trays, and there was every conceivable type of appliance. I was going to enjoy this kitchen.

Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew from South Africa. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Cookbooks on the kitchen shelf were well-thumbed and in the library there were even more cooking reference books. As I sipped my tea I thumbed through the South African cookbooks, now spread out on the lounge room coffee table. I quickly realised there was more to South African cooking than BBQ or braai, the Afrikaans word for roasted meats.

I started to think about what I might learn to make for Cape Town for my series The Dish, in which I share a recipe for a quintessential dish of each of the places we’re settling into for two weeks at a time on this yearlong global grand tour we’re doing.

Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew from South Africa

One dish that kept attracting my attention was the bredie – an Afrikaans word meaning ‘stew’. These kinds of slow cooked meat dishes have kept popping up on our trip. Check out the recipes for the French Cassoulet I made in Ceret, the Spanish Oxtail Stew I cooked in Jerez, and the Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds I learnt to cook in Marrakech and made in Essaouira.

These earthy dishes in many ways exemplify what we’re attempting with our travel experiment this year: to slow down, to learn how to live like locals, and to learn to cook a bit of the local food. What could make you feel more at home than the aromas of a local dish slow-cooking on a stove or in the oven? And this tomato bredie was as Cape Town as Table Mountain.

Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew from South Africa. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.


As with the other dishes above that I’ve written about this year, I found half a dozen conflicting tomato bredie recipes just thumbing through the cookbooks on the lounge room table, but what I quickly realised was that essentially the dish is a slow-cooked mutton and tomato stew. The number and amount of spices added has an infinite variety of permeations.

Tips to Making this Tomato Bredie Recipe

When we visited the District Six Museum, we spotted a tomato bredie recipe that substituted beef for lamb and included onions, garlic and ginger to spice it up. Tomatoes and tomato paste were added, along with sugar and seasoning. This, overlooking the fact that it’s better done with lamb, was a good base to work from. But note that you could very well make this with beef.

Some of the Cape Malay tomato bredie recipes that I came across consisted of a richer array of spices, often including cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, thyme, marjoram, and a good dash of chilli.

Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew from South Africa. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

After sampling this dish in Cape Town restaurants a few times during our stay, and making it in the Camps Bay kitchen several times, I think I found the sweet spot with this recipe: a good mix of lamb pieces (you want fat and marrow) cooked for at least a couple of hours, a good rest overnight before reheating, and then add the potatoes.

Garnish with fragrant coriander and serve this tomato bredie recipe with some aromatic rice, and roti if possible, and a good South African Shiraz or some ice cold beer.

Update May 2022: If you love a good old-fashioned traditional stew, do check out our collection of our best stew recipes for more hearty winter warmers.

Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew

Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew from South Africa. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Tomato Bredie Recipe, a Classic Cape Town Stew

AuthorTerence Carter
The bredie (an Afrikaans word meaning ‘stew’) is a slow-cooked mutton and tomato stew. The amount and number of spices added has an infinite variety of permeations. This is my version.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine South African
Servings made with recipe4 -6 portions
Calories 245 kcal


  • 1.5 kilos ‘stewing’ lamb
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes - optional
  • 2 large onions - finely sliced
  • 50 ml tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cm ginger - fresh, chopped into matchstick-sized strips
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds - crushed
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds - crushed
  • ½ kg medium tomatoes chopped - you can use tinned
  • 4 medium potatoes - quartered, for the second day!
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water


  • Dry ‘roast’ the dry spices in a hot saucepan.
  • Add a good dash of vegetable oil to the pan and sautee the onions.
  • Add the ginger, garlic and chili and cook for one minute.
  • Pat dry the lamb. You can cook it with the onions etc, or separately until browned.
  • Combine the above ingredients in a large pot or Dutch oven.
  • Add about a cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, tomatoes and sugar. Cook over low heat until the meat easily breaks apart. Add water, a little stock or some red wine to keep the mix moist.
  • Cool slightly and then place in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat the stew slowly. Start cooking your rice after adding the potatoes to the pot.
  • While some recipes present it as a ‘dry’ curry (as in the last photo), I think it’s better left with a decent amount of gravy. Perfect for mopping up with some roti.


Serving: 1gCalories: 245kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 7gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 877mgPotassium: 1393mgFiber: 9gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 360IUVitamin C: 61mgCalcium: 110mgIron: 4mg

Do let us know if you made this tomato bredie recipe for a classic Cape Town stew in the comments below as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.


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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

18 thoughts on “Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Classic Cape Town Stew from South Africa”

  1. This sounds absolutely lovely. I’m so jealous… I’m in Thailand, living like a Thai, which means no kitchen for me, everything is done in the night markets. I’m loving it, but so missing preparing my own food! Thanks for this post! Looks wonderful.

  2. Well done for not committing the common crime of putting too much liquid in the bredie and thus ruining it. I managed to find lamb tonight in Toronto and can’t wait to make a bredie again.

  3. This is by far the best version of a tomato bredie I’ve found. Being an ex-South African I was surprised at how many of the other local recipes lacked the complexity of this one. Instead of sugar, a lot of South Africans will often use apricot jam. The other very easy alternative that makes this a much quicker recipe is to use ground lamb instead. My family often served it that way as well. Of course it dramatically changes the personality of the stew, but the flavours remain the same! I think my mom used to do that because it was easier for us kids to eat.5 stars

  4. Thanks Susan!
    This version does take a long time to make, but I can see that it’s probably impractical for a lot of people. It reminds me of my sister-in-law’s bolognese that takes less than an hour while mine takes at least three — impractical for a working mum!
    Never heard of using jam as a sweetener — but I’ve been known to use tomato ketchup as a sweetener for tomato-based stews.
    Thanks for your comment.

  5. The flavours in this Tomato Bredie are incredible.
    Time consuming but very well worth it.
    Great, easy to understand recipe.5 stars

  6. I am an ex-South African who has relocated to the States. During lockdown I’ve been looking for recipes that took me back home to by city of Cape Town. By far the best tomato bredie recipe I’ve found, thank you. I can’t believe this version was inspired by a visit to the District Six Museum!5 stars

  7. Thank you Charlie. Yes, until I went to the District Six Museum, I was struggling to make sense of the recipe. Of course it made sense to have the extra spices in it!
    I’ll have to make it again soon.

  8. Hi I am from South Africa, moved with my family to England aged 5 years old.This is the way I remember my Grandma & Mother making their tomato bredie, with all those beautiful spices to give a beautiful well rounded full body sauce. Of course a touch of sugar is a must it takes the acidity given from the tomatoes, I believed they added some chilli, but not for the children. So many beautiful dishes from South Africa, these are recipes that have stood the test of time, check out the other bredies, & the Pickle Fish,eaten at Easter time.5 stars

  9. Hi Terence, my partner was born in Capetown and asked me to make a tomato bredie like his grandmother used to make when he was a kid. I found your recipe & tweaked it just a little( extra brown sugar + double tomato paste) and received huge accolades from the whole family! Looking forward to making it again this week with beef. Just delicious, thank you.5 stars

  10. Hi Tony,
    Thank you so much. We get so many people coming to visit the site to use that recipe – many from Capetown!
    Make sure to use a good braising beef and really cook it out ’till it has that fall-apart consistency.
    Happy cooking.

  11. Wonderful recipe- thank you, we lost our family recipe collection when we immigrated and this reminds me so much of home (D6) – the spice market on the way to the parade grounds.
    We use blade / shoulder steak when we cant get lamb its an good substitute.

    So envious of all your food travels!5 stars

  12. Hello Lynna, thank you and thanks for the tip – we so love the food there. Also the Cape Malay curry!
    But I’m so sorry to hear you lost your family recipes. Have you thought about trying to recreate the recipes? Reaching out to other family members? Using your own taste memories to recreate recipes? I’ve done that with some of our Russian-Ukrainian recipes that I don’t have. There’s nothing like the “this is exactly like baboushka (grandma) made!” feeling when you get it right.
    We haven’t travelled much during the pandemic, but we continue to cook the food from our travels and that takes us back and helps us to relive our delicious experiences.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by and leave a comment! :)

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