Africhef for great South African Recipes and South African Cooking

One of the oldest and most popular Cape Malay recipes

"What is denningvleis?" you may well ask, "and what's it called in English?"
Well, to put it simply 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

In common with many old recipes of any culture, modern cooks often simplify recipes to make it faster to prepare. In the case of denningvleis vinegar is often used nowadays in place of tamarind and one or two of the spices may be omitted.

Denningvleis was traditionally served with both almond yellow rice and nutmeg mashed potatoes often accompanied by glazed carrots

This denningvleis recipe, handed down from a great, great grandmother (and who knows how many generations before) was passed on to me by my friend Mymoena Davids, more years ago than I care to remember.

It should be remembered that old Cape Malay recipes often differed somewhat by distance from the harbour which had an impact on the availability of spices


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
7½ml (1½tsp) 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

You may have gathered that the main secret to a perfect CAPE MALAY DENNINGVLEIS is to use as little water as possible, together with slow braising.

I am sure you will find this example of Cape Malay cooking becoming a firm family favourite

THANKS!... Africhef

My Afri Chef Cookbook is currently unavailable as I am revising, updating and rewriting it in Kindle format.

Listed below are a few of my favourite South African Cookbooks in Kindle format, available for immediate download from Amazon.

My Cape Malay Kitchen is a relatively new release which has immediately claimed a prominent place amongst my favourite recipe books. If you are interested in Cape Malay cooking, culture and life, I strongly recommend this excellent book, which will provide many delightful meals and insights into a loving daughter's relationship with an ill father
Faldela Williams is a renowned Cape Malay cook and her The Cape Malay Illustrated Cookbook provides comprehensive and easy to follow instructions for many delicious traditional Cape Malay recipes.
Moving to the broader sphere of South African Cuisine I have included Traditional South African Cooking by Magdaleen van Wyk and Pat Barton, a South African recipe book deserving of inclusion in the arsenal of any cook wishing to create a wide range of delectable South African meals.

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