Image: Tomato Bredie a South African Lamb and Tomato Stew

Tomato Bredie

"Bredie" is an old Cape name for a thick, richly flavored meat and vegetable stew. Both the name and the stew are of Malay origin, but "bredies" are popular through South Africa. They are almost always made with lamb or mutton--preferably from the fattier cuts of these meats, because of their richer flavor. While onions and chilies dominate the seasoning, a typical "bredie" is also cooked with -- and named for -- a vegetable such as tomato, pumpkin, green beans, cabbage, dried beans or cauliflower.

To serve 4

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-by-2-inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut crosswise into slices 1/8 inch thick 
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 6 medium-sized firm ripe tomatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut crosswise into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh hot chilies
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skilled, heat the oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the lamb and brown it a few pieces at a time. Turn the pieces frequently with a slotted spoon and regulate the heat so that they color richly and evenly without burning. As the lamb browns, transfer the pieces to a plate.

Pour off and discard all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet and drop in the onion slices and the garlic. Stirring frequently and scrapping in any brown particles that cling to the bottom of the pan, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Stir in the tomatoes, chilies, cloves, sugar and salt, then add the lamb and any juices that have accumulated around it. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible point, cover tightly, and cook the bredie for 1 hour, stirring it from time to time to prevent the vegetables and lamb from sticking to the pan.

Remove the cover and, stirring and mashing the tomatoes occasionally, simmer for 30 to 40 minutes longer, or until the lamb is very tender and most of the liquid in the pan has cooked away. The sauce should be thick enough to hold its shape almost solidly in the spoon.

Taste for seasoning. Pick out and discard the cloves and serve the bredie at once from a heated platter, accompanied by hot boiled rice.