Sweet and Sour Pumpkin and Lamb Stew

Before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas in 1494, cooks following the Persian-Arabian culinary tradition had to rely on a type of calabash pumpkin that couldn’t be used when ripe (the pumpkin dried out and became hollow as it ripened). Therefore they prepared green pumpkin stew.

Jan van Riebeeck planted South American pumpkins at the Cape quite early on and these large white pumpkins became so popular that they were later known as boerpampoen. They were served as vegetables during the winter and were suitable as rations on the many ships that docked in Table Bay. At the Cape, green pumpkins were used in early summer for stews, while ripe pumpkins were used in winter.

Try the Recipe for Sweet and Sour Pumpkin and Lamb stew from our Cape Winelands Cuisine Cookbook (page 107)



1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup (250 ml) good-quality red wine

½ cup (125 ml) dry sherry

½ cup 125 ml) wine vinegar

3 Tbsp (45 ml) pumpkin seeds

1 tsp (5 ml) salt

1 tsp (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground ginger

½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground cinnamon

Pinch of saffron

2 Tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh mint

½ cup (125 ml) whole almonds, blanched

1 tsp (5 ml) fennel seeds, crushed

2 Tbsp (30 ml) honey


Place all the marinade ingredients in an earthenware dish and marinate the lamb in this mixture for 3-4 hours.

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