Karoo Information Travel Directory

Food in the Karoo

Eating and drinking in the Karoo is a culinary experience not to be missed. The Karoo is a large area with many towns! The region offers a variety of traditional and wholesome Karoo dining experiences to suit all tastes and budgets! From the deliciously diverse flavours of South Africa’s indigenous and multi-cultural rainbow cuisine to culinary specialities from all over the world.

Well known Karoo dishes include:

The Karoo is well known for its Lamb...It is here in the Karoo that many international chefs source lamb and mutton for their acclaimed kitchens. Just ask any renowned South African chef where he or she sources lamb, and the answer is likely to be, "From the Karoo, of course!"

It is believed that Karoo lamb is tastier and more flavoursome than lamb from other regions, the reason being the different types of shrubbery which the sheep in this region feed on. The fragrant bushes in the Karoo impart an unmistakable ‘herbiness' to the lamb. Here, the sheep roam freely on farms eating the Karoo vegetation to their hearts content!

How you prepare your lamb depends on the cut you are using. The tougher cuts of lamb need to be treated accordingly. Shanks and stewing cuts need to be cooked for longer at a lower temperature and served cooked through. The more premium cuts like the rack, fillets and rump can be grilled or roasted and served pink. Rosemary and garlic are used to bring out the best flavours in lamb.

But whatever method you choose to prepare your lamb, when cooking specifically with Karoo lamb, avoid using large amounts of herbs and spices, as this will spoil the unique taste of the Karoo Lamb!

Areas where you will taste delicious karoo lamb include the western part of the Northern Cape, through the southern Free State, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape towns of Prince Albert, Laingsburg and Beaufort West.

Photo courtesy of Just Food

Ostrich: Ostrich meat is known as the most healthy of all red meat. Its distinct, subtle taste and versatility has made ostrich meat a most sought after menu item by hoteliers, restaurateurs, home cooks and caterers throughout the world. It is high in protein, cholesterol free and low in kilojoules & fat.

Photo courtesy of

Braaivleis (BBQ): The word braaivleis is Afrikaans for “roasted meat.”  The word braai (pronounced “bry”, rhyming with the word “cry”; plural braais) is Afrikaans for “barbecue” or “roast” and is a social custom in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It originated with the Afrikaner people, but has since been adopted by South Africans of many ethnic backgrounds. The word vleis is Afrikaans for “meat”.

The traditional South African braai is a social event... a big fire is made with wood, while the men & woman socialise enjoying a few glasses of wine or beer! Once the wood has made sufficient coals, the meat is placed on the grid and cooked over the hot coals. The "Braai" is a regular weekend activity for most South Africans!

Photo courtesy of Leblogdebianca


Potjiekos: Potjiekos ("Small pot of food") originated with the Voortrekkers, evolving as a stew made of venison and vegetables cooked in the potjie. Traditionally, the recipe includes meat, vegetables and potatoes all slow-cooked with various spices. Traditionally, liquid should never be added to the pot and the contents should never be stirred, as the lid keeps all liquids and flavors circulating throughout cooking. Usually served with rice or "mielie pap".

Photo courtesy of Road Travel

Bredie: South Africans are the kings (and queens) of a wide array of comforting bredies (Afrikaans for stew), that will warm the coldest of hearts! From Tamatie Bredie (tomato stew), Boontjie Bredie (bean stew) to the somewhat more quirky ones like Waterblommetjie Bredie. Ingredients usually include meat (lamb or beef), vegetables (either tomato, green beans or waterblommetjies) and potatoes. Usually served with rice.

Photo courtesy of Token

Bobotie: Bobotie, a staple of South African cuisine. It is believed to have originated with the Dutch and gets its name from the Indonesian word "Bobotok". Bobotie has been part of the South African cuisine since about the 27th century. Back then it was made mainly with mutton and pork which were combined. Nowadays it is usually made using either beef or lamb mince. Dried fruits such as raisons and apricots can also be added. Flavoured with mild curry, the mince is then topped with a milk and egg mixture and baked in the oven. Usually served with yellow rice with raisins.

Photo courtesy of Bubblylee

Biltong: Biltong is basically cured, spiced, air-dried meat. Biltong was developed as a means of preserving meat so that there would be meat available during the lean hunting season (many African tribes still use a version of biltong in this context), as well as to provide a non-perishable source of meat to early pioneers as they travelled inland. Traditionally, the whole beef carcass was used to make biltong, although today silverside, topside and flank are most commonly used. Although beef is the meat most commonly used, other meats used include ostrich and various types of game (kudu, springbok, blesbok and impala). The meat is cured using salt, then washed with vinegar and finally seasoned with spices (usually salt, pepper, sugar and coriander).

Photo courtesy of Birds of Eden

Roosterkoek: Roosterkoek is the traditional bread to accompany a braai (BBQ). The roosterkoek are simply balls of bread dough cooked on a grid over the coals, and are best eaten piping hot, straight off the grill with butter and jam!

Photo courtesy of Just Food

Koeksisters: Koeksisters are a South African pastry, deep-fried and then dipped in a spicy sugar syrup. Similar to a doughnut, the koeksister is made by twisting/ braiding either 2 or 3 small strips of dough, deep frying them and dipping them in a ginger and cinnamon spiced sugar syrup.

Photo courtesy of Second

Rusks: Rusk biscuit recipes vary - the basic recipe can include flour, a raising ingredient such as yeast, potato yeast, baking powder and buttermilk, oil or butter and eggs. Other ingredients such as aniseed, muesli or almonds may be added to the mixture. Rusk biscuits are a snack food, commonly enjoyed when dunked in hot drinks such as coffee or tes.

Photo courtesy of South African


Karoo Recipes


Here are some of the best loved traditional South African Recipes:


Bobotie is a very old South African dish with probable origins in Indonesia or Malaysia. Bobotie is typically served with yellow rice + chutney on the side.

2 slices white bread

2 Onions chopped

25g butter

2 cloves of garlic crushed

1kg packet lean minced beef

2 tbsp madras curry paste

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

2 Tbsp peach or mango chutney

3 Tbsp sultanas

6 bay leaves


300ml full-cream milk

2 large eggs

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Pour cold water over the bread and set aside to soak. Meanwhile, fry the onions in the butter, stirring regularly for 10 mins until they are soft and starting to colour. Add the garlic and minced beef and stir well, crushing the mince into fine grains until it changes colour. Stir in the curry paste, herbs, spices, chutney, sultanas and 2 of the bay leaves with 1 tsp salt and plenty of ground black pepper.

Cover and simmer for 10 mins. Squeeze the water from the bread, then mix into the meat mixture until well blended. Tip into an oval ovenproof dish (23 x 33cm and about 5-6cm deep). Press the mixture down well and smooth the top.

For the topping, beat the milk and eggs with seasoning, then pour over the meat. Top with the remaining bay leaves and bake for 35-40 mins until the topping is set and starting to turn golden.



Lamb curry potjie is a real favourite of most South Africans! Especially in the winter time and when you want to entertain large crowds without having to spend hours in the kitchen. The recipe serves six.

750g x 2 cubed lamb ( you can use half beef and half lamb, but it is nicer if you use only lamb)

4-5 sweet potatoes peeled and cut in large chunks

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander seed

1 teaspoon chillie jam

2 teaspoons garam masala

1cm ginger peeled and grated

6 garlic cloves crushed

2 bay leaves

1/4 ground turmeric

1 tablespoon oil

2 onions chopped

800g tin peeled tomatoes

Liquidize the tin peeled tomatoes in the food processor. Fry the onions in the oil remove the onions. Use the same pot to dry fry the herbs and spices for a moment. Add the onions and the liquidized tomatoes. Add the meat bring to boil. Cook for 1 hour on the stove top with the lid on the pot. If to dry you can add half a cup of water. Add sweet potatoes cook for another hour or till sweet potatoes are tender. The sweet potato thickens the sauce. Eat and enjoy. The mild curry freezes well.



Always remember that a bredie is best cooked slowly. The flavour will improve if made a day in advance.

1 kg beef or shoulder of mutton

2 T (30ml) oil

1 T (15ml) butter

2 t (10ml) sea salt

½ t (2,5ml) freshly ground black pepper

2 onions, chopped

6 ripe red tomatoes (or 1 x 400g tin whole tomatoes)

1 x 70 g tin tomato paste

1 t (5ml) sugar

¼ t (1ml) chilli powder

½ t (2,5ml) paprika

3 gloves garlic, crushed

1 t (2,5 ml) paprika

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 t (5 ml) mixed herbs

1 ½ cups (375 ml) chicken stock

3 potatoes, diced

1 T (15 ml) potato flour or maizena

Cube the meat. Heat the oil/butter mixture in a big, heavy-bottomed saucepan until the butter discolours. Add the meat in batches and stir-fry until brown. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Season the browned meat with salt and pepper.

Brown the onions in the remaining oil. When golden, soft and glazed, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, chilli, paprika, garlic, herbs, water and stock cube. Bring to a slow simmering boil. Add the prepared meat. Simmer the bredie very slowly for 2 hours. Add the cubed potatoes and continue simmering fore another half an hour. Thicken the gravy if necessary with some corn flour. Serve with rice.



Make the most of delicious lamb chops flavoured with rosemary, honey and mustard. Courtesy of Knor "Whats For Dinner".

350 ml cup Milk

2 Red onions, quartered

(45 ml) tablespoon olive oil

(150 ml) cup Water

8-10 Lamb chops

1 packet KNORR Chicken Honey & Mustard Dry Cook-in-Sauce

12,5 millilitre Chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat oil in a pan, brown the lamb chops and onion. Place in a large shallow baking dish. In a jug combine the KNORR Fresh Ideas Honey & Mustard Chicken with milk and water. Pour over the lamb chops. Top with rosemary. Cover with foil and roast in a preheated 180°C oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a further 20 minutes.



Ostrich neck is an excellent alternative to oxtail, as it is similar in appearance when cooked, but with no fat!

100ml cooking oil

2kg ostrich neck, cleaned and cut up

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

2 large onions, diced

1 bunch celery, sliced (no leaves)

3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

Sprig fresh rosemary

3 cloves garlic, crushed

4 bay leaves

4T tomato paste

1/2 bottle good red wine

6 to 8 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

1x410g can butterbeans, drained

In a large sturdy pot heat the oil until very hot and seal the meat until browned all over, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the carrots, onions, celery, rosemary, garlic and bay leaves. Braise the vegetables until they are glazed about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir in. Add the red wine and bring to the boil. Add the water, cover the pot, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for about one hour or until the neck is nearly cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 30 minutes or until tender. Add the butterbeans and heat through. Serve with yellow rice.



This stew made from lamb potatoes and waterblommetjies is a much-loved South African delicacy. The texture of the flowers is somewhat like miniature artichoke leaves, but the taste is far more subtle - think green beans with a hint of lemon.

750 g waterblommetjies

salt and freshly ground black pepper

30 ml oil

30 ml butter

700 g mutton or lamb

2 medium-sized onions

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 green chilli

20 ml lemon juice

15 ml grated nutmeg

60 ml dessert wine

200 ml white wine

Remove the stalks from the waterblommetjies and wash the leaves well. Put into a bowl of water to which 15 ml salt has been added. Leave to soak for 2 to 3 hours or overnight.

Heat the oil and butter and brown the meat a little at a time, then set aside. Reduce heat, add onion and sauté until soft. Add garlic, chilli, lemon juice and nutmeg. Return meat to saucepan with drained waterblommetjies, dessert wine and white wine. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is tender. Shake the saucepan to prevent the meat from sticking. Avoid stirring the bredie, as this can break up the waterblommetjies. When the meat is ready, season the bredie. If there is too much liquid, cook uncovered until the gravy is reduced. Skim off any excess fat before serving. Serve with rice.

More recipes to come......