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Cape Malay Denningvleis

"What is denningvleis and what's it called in English?" Denningvleis is denningvleis in whatever language you care to use, it's a dish of mutton or lamb, uniquely flavoured with tamarind, allspice, bay-leaves and cloves. Here's a traditional recipe for it.


4 large onions
8 whole cloves of garlic 2kg (4½lb) leg of mutton (or lamb)
Alternatively you could use an equivalent weight of another cut such as shoulder, rib or cutlets
125ml (½cup) vegetable oil
1½tsp (7½ml) salt (or to taste)
15ml (1tbsp) freshly ground black pepper
5 whole cloves
8 allspice
8 bay leaves
10ml (2tsp) sugar
90ml (6tbsp) seedless tamarind
10ml (2tsp) grated nutmeg


Slice the onions into rings. Crush the garlic

Debone the meat and cut it into approximately 2cm by 2cm (1inch by 1inch) cubes

Heat the oil, over medium heat, in a saucepan with a tightly fitting lid

Add the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, cloves, allspice and bay-leaves

Layer the meat on top of these ingredients, fit the lid

Simmer gently, allow to braise for about 40 to 45 minutes, until meat is tender, adding very small amounts of water (60ml or 4tbsp at a time) if necessary.

Boil a small quantity of water, pour 125ml (½cup) into a container and add the sugar and tamarind, bring this liquid back to a slow boil for 5 to 6 minutes, drain and set aside, including the liquid.

When the meat is well browned and soft, sieve the tamarind into the liquid it was boiled in, pressing the tamarind through the sieve as a pulp

Add the tamarind pulp liquid to the denningvleis and heat for a few minutes

To serve the Cape Malay Denningvleis spinkle the nutmeg over the dish and accompany with nutmeg mashed potatoes and almond yellow rice and, if desired, glazed carrots

Made correctly DENNINGVLEIS is a great way to serve tougher, and cheaper, mutton as the braising softens the mutton to almost lamb-like tenderness.

About 20 minutespreperation time
About 1 hour cooking time
Serves 6-8

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