Go Back

Curry Chicken Potjie

A mildly spicy chicken stew with lots of vegetables and authentic wood fire flavour.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: South African
Servings: 6 people
Author: Melby


  • Cast iron pot that can be used on an open fire. I have a very large flat-bottomed pot, but feel free to adapt the recipe if your pot is smaller.


  • 12 chicken thighs
  • 45 ml oil for frying
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 15 ml ginger, finely chopped (optional)
  • ½ green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 4 tbsp curry paste or curry powder (or use another type of flavouring of your choice)
  • 1 t chilli powder (optional)
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 large tin whole peeled tomatoes (800g)
  • 2 cups chicken stock, warm
  • 500 g butternut chunks, sweet potato chunks, baby potatoes or a mix of these
  • 3 large carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 250 g whole button mushrooms
  • 6 rounds corn on the cob (you can cut up 2 cobs into 3 rounds each)
  • 250 g green beans, cut in half
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • On a hot fire that still has a few flames, heat up a cast iron pot.
  • Add oil and chicken pieces skin side down and brown the chicken pieces.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the pot and add the chopped onion. Stir the onions and fry until translucent and slightly browned.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and fresh chilli and fry until fragrant. Be careful that the garlic does not burn.
  • Add the curry paste and chilli powder and fry for another few minutes.
  • Add the tin of whole tomatoes as well as the tomato paste and stir to break up the tomatoes.
  • Add the chicken stock and return the chicken pieces to the pot.
  • Cover with the lid and let simmer for at least 30 minutes on a low fire. There should be no need to peek.
  • Open the pot after about 30 minutes and give it a careful stir. Add the vegetables starting with the potatoes and hard vegetables first and the quick-cooking veggies like mushrooms last.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point you should also make sure that there is enough moisture left in the pot. If the sauce level is below the bottom layer of veggies, add a bit of water until the hard veggies like potatoes are just covered. Replace the lid and leave for another 30 minutes.
  • During this time you are allowed to look into the pot to check sauce levels and that the bottom is not burning. Do not stir much as that will break up the veggies.
  • Once all your veggies are tender, you can leave the pot cooking without a lid to reduce the sauce a bit before serving. At this stage it would also be good to check the seasoning. A large pot holds quite a lot of food and you might have to add more salt. Depending on how much tomato you've added, you might also need to add a sweetener like sugar or chutney.
  • Carefully remove the pot from the fire using oven gloves and put the pot on a stable heatproof surface. Serve the potjiekos on rice or other starch of your choice.


  • If you are using red meat, you can increase the cooking time in point 8 to at least an hour. If you are using something like oxtail or lamb knuckles, cook for up to two hours, making sure there's always enough moisture in the pot and coals to keep the pot going.
  • Depending on your choice of flavouring, you could add half a cup of cream or coconut cream to the potjie before letting the sauce reduce.
  • If you have too much sauce and it is too watery you can thicken the sauce by making a cornstarch slurry with a heaped teasoon of cornstarch and half a cup of cold water. Add to the bubbling pot and stir a bit to disperse.
  • If you are interested in some notes on how to manage the fire during the cooking of the pot, please let me know in the comments and I will get my potjie-partner (husband) to write up something.