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Cook and Bake in a Potjie

Get your friends and family together and cook a delicious meal in a South African cast-iron potjie (pronounced 'potchee')! It is an exciting and enjoyable way of relaxing together and a tasty alternative to a barbeque. The potjie is placed over hot coals, either on an open fire or on top of a grill.

You regulate the heat by moving the coals closer to or away from the pot. Its rounded shape collects the liquid in the bottom of the pot. You therefore need very little water and other liquids. The food becomes rich in taste - and healthy!

Cooking together is fun for both children and grown-ups! Preparing a tray with all the ingredients in advance, makes the cooking easy and relaxing for everyone.

You can cook anything you like in a potjie! It heats up rapidly and it browns meat and vegetables very well. In South Africa, potjie cooking is a life-style. They even have competitions for making the best potjie! You can find mouth-watering recipes, ideas and inspiration at this home page. We also sell spice kits with complimentary recipes and cooking books with tasty potjie-recipes for meat, fish, chicken or vegetarian dishes.

Click on the Links below to view more information:

Baking in a Potjie

Baking in a flat-bottomed baking pot adds an exciting dimension to your out-door cooking! This dessert cake can be baked in the coals after you’ve grilled or made a potjie. It will be ready just in time for you to finish the supper!

Or why not bake a fantastic bread to enjoy with the food you are making in your belly-shaped potjie. We sell these pots in two sizes; varieties. A standard size 12 (see above, 5 L) and a Super Potjie (5 L) with a lid that can be used to fry on, see picture to the right below. The flat bottom makes these pots very versatile - you can bake in them over coals, or you can cook or bake in them on your ordinary stove and oven.

When baking, you must grease the potjie and inside of the lid carefully with butter or margarine. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough so that it doesn’t stick to the inside of the lid when raising.

The bake-pot is never placed on the coals directly. Instead, you heat the surface under the potjie by making a fire, and then moving the fire away.

If this surface is made of fire proof bricks, the heating goes rather quickly, and the hearth will stay warm for long. If the fire was made on the ground, it may be necessary to move the fire again if the surface cools off.

While the surface is pre-heating, slowly begin your baking by putting a few coals on the potlid. After 20-30 minutes, scrape the fire to the side and place the pot where the fire was. Also, make a circle of coals around the pot, about 20 cm away.

It is important to rotate the pot every 10-15 minutes during baking, for the bread to bake evenly. Also, peek into the pot to see how it browns and if you need to turn it more often. Be careful when lifting the lid, so that no ash falls into the potjie!

Potjies come in different sizes

The best potjies for families and smaller parties are size 2 (6 L), size 3 (7.8 L) and size 4 (9.3 L). All these pots come with three legs, and you place them over a fire or hot coals in the outdoors or in an open fire place indoors. Some of these potjies (size 1-3) come with a flat bottom without legs.

A flat potjie can be placed on the hot plate of a stove, on top of a grill or tripod over fire outdoors. If you would like to know the weight of the different potjies, please take a look at our order form.

We usually say that a potjie size two is suitable for about 6-8 persons, a potjie size three for about double the amount of people (12-16) and a size four is good for about three times as many (18-24).

If you are uncertain of which size to buy, rather buy a larger potjie. Then you can cook either for 2 or 20 persons! We sometimes sell larger potjies (size 6, 13.5 L, to about 30 & size 8, 18.5 L, to about 40) to schools and societies etc.

It may be necessary for two people to lift a larger potjie (size 6 or 8) when it’s full. In Baobab Kitchen, our African outdoor kitchen, size 4 is the largest potjie used. The more potjies, the more cooks…the merrier!

An outdoor kitchen gives freedom…

Finally, some inspiration to our customers & from our customers. How do I build a fire place? How did others do it? Does it need to be a huge project? Oh no! You can make your fire on the ground, or place the potjie on a grill…then finally you may want to build your outdoor kitchen. We made ours using well rings made of concrete. See picture below.

Friends of Ours did like this:

How did you make yours? We would with pleasure insert more images of wonderful outdoor kitchens! The freedom of beeing outside to cook and bake, in all seasons, change the way we enjoy our gardens…doesn’t it?

Potjie culture in South Africa

The three-legged pot was originally used widely across Europe and it was introduced to South Africa when Europeans settled there. Today, more than 500 years later, potjie cooking is a strong tradition that belongs to all the different peoples and food cultures of South Africa. It is a way of socializing, a way to have a party, and a way of cooking outdoors when you are camping. For most South Africans an invitation to potjiekos (food cooked in a potjie) promises a relaxing time of cheerful chatting by the fire, often in a beautiful surrounding, while mouth-watering flavours of stews or curries emerge from the potjie.

Cooking in a potjie usually takes a little longer than on the conventional electric stove but the result is clearly worth waiting for! Potjies are also ideal for cooking large pieces of meat, especially venison that with time gets very tender and succulent.

Cooking in a potjie is still fundamental in everyday life of many rural South African villages. On festive occasions, for example, celebrating the initiation ceremony of young Xhosa men ('umqombothi') large 3-legged potjies (size 25) are used to feed hundreds of guests with sour maize porridge ('iqondi').

Flat-bottomed potjies are stacked in piles with coals to bake bread ('isonka').

Using your potjie for the first time…

It used to be necessary to let the potjie burn on the inside before using it for the first time (see picture).

However, nowadays this is not required!
Now the potjie is pre-cured, which means that you only have to clean it, grease it, and heat it up with oil before you start cooking in it.

Do this before you use your potjie for the first time:

  1. Fill the potjie with boiling water and wash it inside with dishwashing liquid. Don’t forget the lid!
  2. Dry the potjie and lid carefully with a clean cloth.
  3. Grease the potjie and lid with cooking oil.
  4. Heat up the potjie and lid over the hot coals, until the oil is sufficiently warm and starts to smoke a little.
  5. Now your potjie is ready to be used!

Cooking in a potjie is easy! When you cook, place hot coals under and around the pot. You can regulate the heat by moving coals closer to or further away. Listen to the sound of your potjie! If you from 2 metres away can hear a loud bubbling sound, the heat is too high. If you barely can hear a soft simmer, the temperature is right. It is advisable to keep a fire going on the side, so that you can get new hot coals all the time

Cleaning and maintaining your potjie

It is surprisingly easy to clean a potjie. The inside: Fill it with warm water and let it soak for a while and rinse with warm water. If you do not use dishwashing liquid, your potjie will with time develop a very personal flavour. Dry carefully and apply a thin layer of cooking oil to protect the inside of the potjie until next time. The outside: If you want to avoid heavy soot on the outside (not really a problem), try covering the pot with a thin spread of dishwashing liquid. This will help rinsing off the soot.

IMPORTANT – Don't do this with your potjie

The potjies we sell have a lifetime guarantee. However, for this to be valid, it is important that you avoid doing two things that can damage your potjie. 1. Avoid placing the potjie over flames. Flames right under the potjie may weaken the cast-iron and eventually lead to cracking. When cooking, place coals under and around the potjie and keep a fire going on the side so that you can get new hot coals all the time. Listen to the sound of the potjie to determine whether the heat is too high or loo low. If from 2 metres away, you can still hear a loud bubbling sound, the heat is too high. The right temperature is when you can barely hear a soft simmering sound at that distance. Regulate the heat by scraping coals closer or further away from the potjie. 2. Avoid adding cold liquids to a warm potjie. When adding liquids, pre-heat to boiling temperature or add very, very small amounts at a time. Always wash a warm potjie with hot water or let it cool off before washing it.