Potjie pot originated in Europe around the 17th century. It accompanied the early immigrants to the Cape, and was an essential part of the nomadic trekboers’ equipment. More recently, potjie pots have increased in popularity for the outdoor enthisiasts. It is a versatile cooking pot, used as a stewing pot, frying pan, baking oven and even a roasting pan. It also offers the added convenience of providing a meal-in-one, but the greatest benefit is the opportunity that it offers to relax and enjoy a few hours in the sociable and family atmosphere.
Potjie pots have a unique belly shape that sets up and allows for a cycle of steam and flavors to circulate inside the pot, thus creating the subtle and delicate balance of flavor fusion – yet with each individual ingredient characteristics and taste intact.
Potjiekos, which literally means “pot food” and has been part of South Africa’s culture for many centuries. Back when the first settlement arrived at the Cape, food was cooked in a black cast-iron potjie pot hanging from a chain over the kitchen fire. Later the black pot accompanied the pioneers who moved into the country. As the Victorian era unfolded, the delights of the bubbling black potjie pot made way for magnificent oven roasts, and later still the traditional braaivleis in the 1950’s and 60’s. The re-emergence of potjie in the late 1970’s coincided with the increase in meat prices, when food magazines and books started publishing articles on potjiekos cooking and potjie recipes.
It is believed that the potjie came from the Dutch ancestors of the South Africans, who brought heavy iron cooking pots that hung from hooks over the open hearth. These cast-iron pots retained heat well and could be kept simmering over a few embers. Rounded, potbellied pots were used for cooking tender roasts and stews as they allowed steam to circulate instead of escape through the lid. The flat-bottomed iron pans heated more quickly and were used to bake crusty loaves of bread in Dutch ovens.
What sets potjiekos apart from these traditional cooking methods is the fact that it is cooked outside. When the pot was moved from the kitchen hearth to a fire in the open bush, it became a potjie and part of the South African cooking heritage. The most common potjie is the rounded, potbellied, three-legged cast iron pot.
Potjiekos is uniquely South African, and is a friendly food, to be enjoyed by rich or poor, young and old, city-dwellers and country folk, needing only one’s imagination when it comes to selecting the ingredients. Potjiekos is traditionally made around an open fire, preferably in the company of good friends, with one or more Potjies simmering away. Now, thanks to Kalahari Potjie Cooker, you can bring your party indoors, and enjoy all the benefits and deliciousness of Potjiekos!