Waterblommetjie Bredie - A Truly South African Dish

 As an expat now living in Ireland, I often get nostalgic for the things of home and when it comes to cooking uniquely South African dishes, one is often limited by the ingredients required...one such dish is Waterblommetjie Bredie.  However, when hosting a South African event, I decided it was worth the search for these unique 'Water Flowers' to introduce this stew to my Irish Family and Friends.  Thanks to the South African shop, I was able to source Waterblommetjies in a tin, which was a close second to an unattainable fresh option - see below:

The difference between a typical Irish Stew and a South African Bredie, is that for bredies, one should use very little additional liquid, as the flavour should come from the moisture of the meat and vegetables, not to mention the abundant spices - Irish Stew, on the other hand, makes use of a broth. The secrets of a great bredie lie in balancing out the spices as well as browning the meat and onion properly.  Long, slow and gentle cooking means the meat should just about fall from the bone to become part of the sauce.  These types of South African bredies are even better prepared a day or two ahead and then reheated.

Waterblommetjie Bredie

1.2Kg stewing mutton or lamb, trimmed and cut into pieces
ground black pepper
vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5ml crushed green ginger
4 cardamom pods
2ml coriander seeds
2ml fennel seeds
15ml chopped fresh thyme
15ml chopped fresh marjoram
1ml grated nutmeg
1-2 small green or red chillies, sliced and seeded
5ml brown sugar
800g Waterblommetjies, trimmed and soaked in salted water
1 green apple, peeled and grated


  • Season the meat with pepper and dust with flour. 
  • Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and brown the meat well. 
  • Return all the meat to the pot or potjie, then add the oinion, garlic and ginger and braise over high heat until the onion turns a rich golden brown. 
  • Crush the cardamom, coriander and fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar then add to the pot with the thyme, marjoram, chilli, nutmeg and brown sugar.
  • Add the Waterblommetjies and green apple.
  • Season with salt.
  • Cover and simmer very gently until the meat is lovely and tender, stirring occasionally. 
  • If the bredie becomes too dry, add a little water or stock. 
  • If it’s too moist, remove the lid towards the end of the cooking time. 
  • Cooking time may vary between 1-2 hours, depending on the cut of meat used. 
  • Add potatoes to the bredie during the last 30 minutes or so.
  • Carefully skim off any extraneous fat. 
  • Serve with plain rice.

Serves 4 - 6

About the Author:

Janet Casey was born in South Africa and moved to Ireland 24 years ago, where she spends her time golfing and gardening in equal measure.  Passionate about plants she is often seen in the kitchen creating a new dish or jam with her fruitful harvests.