What’s cooking today: Karoo lamb pie

Tony Jackman’s Karoo lamb pie, served on a plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

There are recipes for Karoo lamb pie in thousands of the old kitchens, and no two of them will be precisely the same. But they share one thing: complexity of flavour using herbs and spices redolent of the platteland.

This recipe screams Old Cape Kitchen, even though it is not entirely traditional in the way of the old pies which contained boiled eggs, ham and sago, just like the old chicken pie known as hoenderpastei. But there are herbs and some of the spices always associated with the Cape, and this version is topped with a puff pastry crust in the style of a pot pie.

The lamb is going to be slow cooked, so you can use the cheaper lamb cuts if you like. If it’s on the bone, cut the meat away and retain the softer bits of fat to add some fatty lusciousness to the pot. But don’t overdo the fat component.


3 Tbsp (or more) olive oil

1 kg lamb, boneless, cubed

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 leeks, rinsed and finely chopped

1 celery stalk, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 heaped Tbsp cornflour

2 rosemary sprigs

2 bay leaves

3 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground ginger

2 blades of mace

1 heaped tsp mustard powder

500 ml lamb stock

1 Tbsp honey

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Black pepper to taste

Salt to taste

1 packet frozen puff pastry, thawed but fridge-cold

1 egg and 1 egg yolk


Brown the cubed meat in olive oil and remove to a side bowl or bakkie. Add more oil and sauté the chopped onion, garlic, celery and leeks until softened. Sprinkle the cornflour over and stir in.

Add the browned meat and rosemary, and stir to coat. As it cooks for a few minutes more, while you stir, the contents of the pot will attain a pleasing lustre thanks to the cornflour melding with the juices.

Add the bay leaves, spices, mace, mustard powder, and stir in the heated lamb stock.

Stir in the vinegar and honey, season with salt and black pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook gently, lid on, for two and a half hours or more until the meat is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Preheat the oven to 200℃. Grease or spray a pie dish and spoon in the lamb filling. Roll out the chilled puff pastry and arrange it on top, crimping the edges. Decorate with pastry leaves or any pattern you fancy, sticking them down with a touch of cold water.

Use a small, sharp knife to make three or four slits in the pastry for steam to escape while it’s in the oven. Beat an egg with an extra egg yolk and brush half of it over the pastry. Chill the pie for 30 minutes, then brush the remaining egg wash over.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until the pastry crust is golden and crisp. Serve with root vegetables and mashed potato or other hearty side dishes. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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