Cape Malay Denningvleis: Try something different for Heritage Day

The word “denning” originated from the Javanese word “dendeng”. Denningvleis is uniquely flavoured with tamarind, allspice, bay-leaves and cloves. A good Bo-kaap denningvleis should be thick and sticky and almost black in colour. This will depend on the quality of your tamarind paste. Vinegar can be used instead of tamarind. The sauce should be sour, but also fruity and sweet. Denningvleis was traditionally served with both almond yellow rice and nutmeg mashed potatoes often accompanied by glazed carrots.




Serves 4

2 Tbsp sunflower oil

1kg lamb knuckles or other stewing lamb

2 Tbsp flour

2 large onions, sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

6 whole cloves

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp nutmeg

500ml water

4 Tbsp tamarind paste

2 tsp caster sugar

salt and black pepper to taste

red wine vinegar, black treacle/molasses, apricot chutney (optional)




You could prepare your stew on the stove and transfer it to your potjie when your coals are ready if you are going to cook the dish outside.

Heat the oil over a medium heat. Dust the lamb knuckles in the flour and fry (in batches) for a couple of minutes until evenly golden brown. Remove the lamb from the saucepan or potjie and set aside.

Turn down the heat a little and add the onions and garlic. Sauté until softened.

Return the lamb to the pot and add the cloves, bay leaves and nutmeg. Add the water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for one and a half hours or until the lamb is tender.

Stir in the tamarind and sugar and cook for another 15 minutes, uncovered. Season with a little salt and a generous grind of black pepper.

If you think it needs more acidity, add a little red wine vinegar. If the sauce is thin and needs more body and colour, add a teaspoon or two of molasses/black treacle. If you want a more fruity sauce, add a tablespoon of apricot or other fruit-based chutney.

Serve with rice or roti.

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