An epicurean adventure to: South Africa
If you're craving for a proper vetkoek with curried mince, or a 'curry bunny', you're in for a treat!
The love for South African 'vetkoek and mince' lies deep in the hearts of the Rainbow nation. In a nutshell, vetkoek it's a simple dough, deep-fried in oil until golden brown, then filled to the brim with a mild curried mince (or simply with Lyle's golden syrup for afters).
You will find it on street corners, at flea markets, at church bazaars, in corner shops or outside the butchers on a Saturday morning. It's everywhere and loved by one and all.
This curried, savoury mince recipe is also very versatile. While its primary purpose is to elevate your vetkoek experience, it can also moonlight as the star in South African curry and rice, as a savoury pancake filling or as a topping on toast.
When the curried mince is prepared in large quantities for markets and street vendors, it's customary to stretch the meat with potatoes to make it more economical. We've ditched the spuds in favour of a hearty mix of vegetables, ensuring a meaty, flavour-packed filling for your vetkoek.
Feel free to tinker with the quantities of spices, like ramping up the curry for a spicier kick. Our recipe is a mild and comforting option, perfect for those who appreciate a subtler warmth.
From start to finish, it's ready in just 30 minutes, making it ideal for those busy weeknights. Plus, it's an excellent candidate for batch cooking, allowing you to stash away some portions in the fridge or freezer, ready to rescue your future mealtime dilemmas.
- Fast facts - South Africa
- What's to love about this recipe
- Key ingredient notes and substitutions
- Equipment needed
- How to make curried mince: Step-by-step
- Top tips
- What to serve with curried mince
- How is this curried mince recipe different from beef keema curry?
- More recipes from South Africa
- More easy curry recipes
Fast facts - South Africa
|Location||Southernmost tip of the African continent. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Lesotho.|
|Language||South Africa has 11 official languages, including English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Venda, Tsonga, Swati, and Ndebele. English is widely spoken and is the language of business, while Zulu and Xhosa are the most commonly spoken African languages.|
|Population||Circa 60.2 million|
|Trivia||According to the UK's National Physical Laboratory, Cape Town is renowned for its stunning blue skies, securing the fifth spot on their list of the world's best skies. This picturesque coastal city consistently offers residents and visitors breathtaking vistas of clear, azure skies, making it a top destination for those seeking a visually captivating natural environment.|
What's to love about this recipe
- It's not just for vetkoek, you can use it in various dishes like South African curry and rice, as a pancake filling or in sandwiches.
- Ready in just 30 minutes, it's a perfect option for busy weeknights.
- Packed with aromatic spices.
- Adjust the spice levels to suit your taste, from mild to fiery.
- Whether you're cooking for one or a crowd, it's easy to scale up or down. Next time you make curried mince for vetkoek, make a double batch and freeze the leftovers.
- No potatoes.
Key ingredient notes and substitutions
**Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
We begin with one tablespoon of mild curry powder to keep the heat level low, so even kids can enjoy it. But if you want more spice, you can use a hot curry powder or add a tablespoon extra curry powder. Your curry, your way!
Beef stock and water
To get that rich flavour, we begin by dissolving a beef stock cube in a small amount of water. Don't be tempted to add more water, otherwise, your curry might become too watery for your vetkoek.
Keep in mind that we get more liquid from coconut milk, chutney and frozen vegetables. Plus, as the mince cooks, it releases its own juices.
So, stick to the amounts mentioned in the recipe. If you find it needs more liquid, you can add a bit more water or coconut milk later on.
This provides a rich sauce, full of flavour and creaminess to the curried mince. You can also use cream.
We go for a ground beef mince with 20% fat content. However, if you prefer lean beef mince, that's okay too. Just remember, with leaner mince, you might want to check the water level as your curry simmers as it tends to release less liquid.
You can also mix things up by using a blend of 50% pork mince and 50%. We find that lamb mince adds a very different flavour to the traditional taste you would expect for vetkoek mince, so we don't recommend it.
Chutney is an integral part of South African vetkoek mince. Locally, folks turn to Mrs. Ball's peach chutney for that authentic touch. However, if you have mango chutney or any fruity chutney on hand, it works just as brilliantly.
We won't recommend non-fruity chutneys like red onion chutney.
If you don't have fruit chutney on hand, apricot jam can step in as a great alternative.
A frozen veg mix is not just convenient, it's also a traditional choice for vetkoek mince. We opt for packs with green peas, corn, green beans and little pieces of cubed carrots.
However, you can get creative with your own veg combo, just remember to keep the veggies small and not too chunky. That way, they'll blend perfectly into your mince curry.
When working with 500g of mince, a medium-sized saucepan is your best bet.
Here's why the pan size matters: If your pan's surface is too big for the amount of ingredients, your curry might cook too fast, lose liquid rapidly and risk burning. So, opt for the right-sized pan to keep things just right.
If you're doubling the recipe and going for 1kg of mince, you can go for a larger saucepan.
How to make curried mince: Step-by-step
- Chop the onion into small chunks.
- Dissolve the beef stock cube in the boiled water. Set aside.
Make the curried mince
- Pour the oil into a medium-sized saucepan and heat it over medium heat. Most oils will work, like sunflower, vegetable or olive oil.
- Fry the onions over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic, turmeric powder, curry powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and allspice to the onions. Fry the spices with the onions for 2 minutes so their flavours can develop. Keep stirring the mixture throughout to prevent burning.
- Add the beef stock cube dissolved in water along with the coconut milk to the spicy onion mixture. Give it a good stir and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the minced meat. Break it up with a fork and fry it with the onion mixture until the mince browns, stirring throughout. This should take about 6 minutes.
- Add the chutney (or apricot jam), tomato paste, frozen vegetables, salt, pepper and sugar to the cooked mince.
- Stir the beef mixture together and cook uncovered for 7-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still have a bite and the liquid has reduced. Stir frequently and monitor the water level. If absolutely needed, add a little water.
- Serve hot in vetkoek or on a bed of rice.
Bloom the spices
The process of frying the spices together with the onions in the hot oil is called 'blooming'. It's a crucial step that releases the flavours from the spices, so be sure not to skip it. Your taste buds will thank you!
Watch the water
Be cautious about adding extra water at the beginning. The mince and veggies will release their own liquids as they cook. Adding too much water early on might result in a runny curry.
We don't usually add any additional water to our ground beef curry. Just make sure you keep stirring throughout the cooking process to keep re-distributing the liquid that's already there and prevent burning.
Pan size matters
Choose the right-sized pan. Using a pan with too much surface area for the quantity of ingredients can cause the curry to cook too quickly, leading to excessive liquid loss and the mince cooking dry too quickly, or even burning.
Frozen is fine
No need to defrost the veggies! You can add them straight from the freezer. They'll cook perfectly in the curry.
Don't walk away from the curry
Stir frequently while cooking to prevent burning, especially since we're cooking without a lid on the saucepan.
- Use a combination of pork and beef mince
- Replace the meat with plant-based alternatives like lentils, Quorn mince, tofu or a mix of mushrooms for a hearty vegetarian or vegan curry.
- Experiment with different vegetables based on your preferences or what you have on hand. Just make sure they are chopped rather small.
- If you're not keen on a mild curry flavour and prefer more spice, add chopped chilli, chilli powder, cayenne pepper or a spicier curry powder.
- Play around with the spices and add more of the spices you love, or omit the ones you don't.
- Swap the coconut milk for cream or coconut cream.
What to serve with curried mince
Vetkoek - The traditional choice!
Roti or naan - Indian flatbreads like roti or naan bread are fantastic for scooping up the curry. They're great for adding an extra layer of texture to your meal.
Couscous - The light and fluffy nature of couscous is a great match for curried mince. It's quick to prepare, making it a convenient option. Cauliflower rice works too for a low-calorie option.
Bread - A simple slice of crusty bread, baguette or pita bread can be a quick and satisfying side option. You can use it in a sandwich too, it's a great way to use up any leftovers.
Extra chutney - If you like the tang chutney added to curried mince, add more! Try our recipe for homemade mango chutney.
Curry mince will last well in the fridge for up to 4 days when stored in airtight containers.
It freezes really well for up to 4 months, perfect for meal prep.
To defrost, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add a splash of water to loosen it up.
How is this curried mince recipe different from beef keema curry?
The distinction between this South African curried mince recipe and Indian keema mince lies in their cultural roots and flavour profiles.
While the curried mince is a hallmark of South African cuisine, cherished for its mild spice blend and inclusion of ground beef, Indian keema encompasses a broader spectrum.
In Indian cooking, keema can feature a medley of ground meats such as goat, lamb or chicken and it dances with a diverse range of spices like garam masala and cardamom.
Curried mince for Vetkoek
- 1 medium saucepan
- 2 tablespoons oil for frying
- 150 grams onion, diced - or one large onion
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced - or garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon mild curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 60 milliliter boiling water - or four tablespoons
- 1 beef stock cube - like Oxo
- 125 milliliter full-fat coconut milk
- 500 grams beef mince
- 2 tablespoons fruity chutney or apricot jam - like mango or peach chutney
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 250 milliliter frozen mixed vegetables - small veg like cubed carrot, peas, corn etc
- 1 teaspoon salt - or to taste
- few grinds black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- Chop the onion into small chunks.150 grams onion, diced
- Dissolve the beef stock cube in the boiled water. Set aside.1 beef stock cube, 60 milliliter boiling water
Making the curried mince
- Pour the oil into a medium-sized saucepan and heat it over medium heat.2 tablespoons oil for frying
- Fry the onions over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic, turmeric powder, curry powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and allspice to the onions. Fry the spices with the onions for 2 minutes so their flavours can develop. Keep stirring the mixture throughout to prevent burning.1 teaspoon garlic, minced, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon mild curry powder, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon allspice
- Add the beef stock cube dissolved in water along with the coconut milk to the spicy onion mixture. Stir together and cook for 3-4 minutes.125 milliliter full-fat coconut milk
- Add the mince. Break it up with a fork and fry it with the onion mixture until the mince browns, stirring throughout. This should take about 6 minutes.500 grams beef mince
- Add the chutney (or apricot jam), tomato paste, frozen vegetables, salt, pepper and sugar to the cooked mince.2 tablespoons fruity chutney or apricot jam, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 250 milliliter frozen mixed vegetables, 1 teaspoon salt, few grinds black pepper, 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- Stir everything together and cook uncovered for 7-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still have a bite and the liquid has reduced. Stir frequently and monitor the water level.
- Serve hot in vetkoek or with rice.
Bloom the spicesThe process of frying the spices together with the onions in the hot oil is called 'blooming'. It's a crucial step that releases the flavours from the spices, so be sure not to skip it. Your taste buds will thank you!
Watch the waterBe cautious about adding extra water at the beginning. The mince and veggies will release their own liquids as they cook. Adding too much water early on might result in a runny curry. We don't usually add any additional water to our curry. Just make sure you keep stirring throughout the cooking process to keep re-distributing the liquid that's already there and prevent burning.
Pan size mattersChoose the right-sized pan. Using a pan with too much surface area for the quantity of ingredients can cause the curry to cook too quickly, leading to excessive liquid loss and the mince cooking dry too quickly, or even burning.
Frozen is fineNo need to defrost the veggies! You can add them straight from the freezer. They'll cook perfectly in the curry.
Don't walk away from the curryStir frequently while cooking to prevent burning, especially since we're cooking without a lid on the saucepan.
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.