Oxtail – Best Traditional Recipes from Around the World

A friend of mine in Lagos, Kolle Funsho, asked me if I have a recipe for oxtail from South Africa and one from West India. In South Africa, if you request 100 people for an oxtail recipe, you will have 100 old family recipes before the end of the hour. It is a most loved South of African dish.

I have a suspicion that it is the same in many other parts of the world, including India. A friend and colleague of mine, Anupam who is a chef by trade gave me the Vindaloo and West India recipes. The South African recipes come from Minette’s mom and Fanie, her twin sister’s husband.

Ox Tail Vindaloo

Image from The Guardian. Click on the image for more Vindaloo Ox Tail recipes by the Guardian.


  • 1 kg – oxtail cut into medium pieces
  • 3 – onions chopped
  • 3 – big tomatoes pureed
  • 1 tsp – cumin powder
  • 1 tsp – turmeric power
  • 3 tsp – chilli powder
  • 1 tsp – pepper powder
  • 1 piece cinnamon
  • 2 tsp – garlic paste
  • 3 tbsp – vinegar
  • 3 tbsp – oil

How to Make Ox Tail Vindaloo

  • Pressure cook the oxtail till soft with sufficient water.
  • Heat oil, fry the cinnamon and onions till golden brown.
  • Add the garlic paste and sauté for some time.
  • Add the chilly powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder and fry well with a little vinegar.
  • Add the tomato puree and continue frying till the oil separates from the mixture.
  • Add the remaining vinegar and the cooked oxtail together with the remaining soup. Cook till the gravy is thick.
  • Serve hot with rice or bread or even hoppers.

Oxtail West Indian Style


 4 servings

  1. 1 x whole oxtail Sliced
  2. 6 x ripe tomatoes chopped
  3. 4 x small onion chopped
  4. Ghee
  5. 2 x tsp garlic and ginger paste
  6. 2 x whole green chilies
  7. 2 x tsp ground coriander
  8. 2 x tsp ground cumin
  9. 1 x tsp turmeric
  10. 1 x tsp chilli flakes
  11. 2 x tsp chilli powder
  12. Stick Cinnamon
  13. 5 x whole cloves
  14. 4 x green cardamom
  15. 2 x black cardamom
  16. Salt
  17. Pepper
  18. Yoghurt


  1. Heat the Ghee and fry onions with cinnamon, garlic and ginger and both cardamom pods until onions are golden brown.
    Add all the ground spices and chilli
  2. Add meat and tomatoes with slash of water, then add all remaining ingredients.

South African Ox Tail ala Fanie

To understand this recipe, you have to understand that Fanie is brilliant, dear I say, legendary, for what we call in South Africa Potjie-kos (food made in a black cast iron pot). It is a quintessential South African favourite and preparing it is as hearty and friendly as enjoying it with friends when it’s all done. It is not intended to be rushed and you socialise (kuier), around the pot!

Fry one chopped onion with one Black Label Beer (or other beer at room temperature)

Place the pieces of oxtail one by one in the pot (and Fanie adds), so that each feels very special!

As you place the next one, turn the ones already in the pot.

There should never be more than five pieces of charcoal underneath the put.

All the pieces should be well sealed after 10 minutes or three black labels (beer). 🙂

Now, add water.

Add enough that the top pieces can still breathe without a straw! 🙂

Make a mix of one block of oxo, one tablespoon Bistro, herbs of your choice and add to the meat.

Leave for about an hour with the lid on.

Every now and then, lift the lid and push the pieces from the side to the middle to prevent them from burning.

Check that the coals are still working. Every half an hour, push a fresh charcoal briquette under the pot to replace the one that died by now.

At this point, those who drink wine (the woman 🙂 can put the samp on. Rice does not go with oxtail! 🙂

Take green beans (approx. 2/3 ice cream tubs) with 3/4 potatoes cut into quarters and add it to the pot.

When the potato is cooked soft, check with a knife but by this time the meat will be looking for a stomach to fill!

You push all the coals aside, drink your last beer and put the wine back in the cupboard.

As soon as the last beer is done, take the pot to the kitchen and you can dish it up.

The samp with be slightly burned by now, but this is how it should be. Nobody is going to fight with anybody! This is how Fanie has been doing it for years and it is delicious!

Photo courtesy of https://www.cooksister.com/. Click on the image to be directed to another great recipe.

Fanie in Afrikaans!

Fanie is a brilliant communicator and I give the above recipe in its original in Afrikaans as he sent it to me. It is hilarious!

“Ek braai altyd n heel gekerfde ui in klein bietjie olie en een kamer temperature black label dan sit ek die oxtail stukke so een vir een in die pot sodat elkeen spesiaal voel en soos ek die volgende een insit keer ek die wat reeds in die pot is om. Ek het nooit meer as 5 charcoal blokkies onder die pot nie. As al die stukkies lekker geseël is (dis na so tien minute of drie black labels) voeg ek water by. Net genoeg dat die boonste stukkies nog sonder n strooitjie kan asem haal. Dan maak en n mix met n oxo blokkie, n eetlepel Bisto,  mixed herbs en dan moer ek dit oor die vleis. Dan los ek hom vir lank met die deksel op (so uur). Ek lig netbaf en toe die deksel en dan stoot ek n plat lepel van die kante af om te keer dat hy vasbrand. En check maar net dat die kole nog werk. Ek stoot so elke halfuur n charcoal blokkie in om die een te vervang wat eerste gaan tou opgee. Teen die tyd kan die wyngebruikers die stampmielies opsit. Rys werk nie met oxtail nie. Nou vat jy die groenboontjies ( ek meet nie maar sê nou maar so 3/4 roomysbak vol en so twee of drie aartappels wat in kwarte gesny is en moer dit by. As die aartappels so eetbaar sag is kan jy met n skerp mes seker maak maar teen die tyd soek daai vleis n maag. Dan krap jy die kole so bietjie weg, en dan kry jy jou laaste bier en begin die boks wyn ook wegvat. As daai laaste bier op is kan die pot maar kombuis toe vir opskep. Die stampmielies gaan effe gebrand wees maar dit moet so wees. Niemand gaan met niemand baklei nie. Dis hoe ek dit doen en dit werk altyd. En dis regtig heerlik.”

Sakkie’s Ox Tail

The photo is from a recipe by Stien Rust. Click on the image to be directed to her delicious recipe or visit http://yourrecipeblog.com/recipes/oxtail-with-bananas/

Minette’s mom’s favourite recipe is the one from Sakkie. It was penned down by Mrs H Benade from Windhoek.

  1. 1,5kg ox tail, cut up;
  2. 2 onions, cut in two, in rings;
  3. 1 banana, cut in disks;
  4. 60 ml brown vinegar;
  5. 20mL tomato sause;
  6. 20mL chutney;
  7. 20mL honey;
  8. 7mL mild curry powder;
  9. 7mL salt;
  10. 1mL pepper.

Wash the meat and place it with the onions, banana and bay leaves. Place in a pressure cooker. Mix the rest of the ingredients in and pour it over the meat, onions and banana. Don’t add any water. Heat slowly and cook for approximately 1.5 hours on low heat under pressure.

This gives you 4 to 6 portions.

Minette’s mom writes, She also cooks her ostrich neck exactly as the does with the oxtail but she adds fried bacon and pork spek (hard pork loin fat) because the ostrich tends to be dry.

Gabriella’s Oxtail

A very old and dear friend of mine sent me the following recipe. She writes, “Like all good things, this recipe takes time and a lot of effort.  This is how we should cook, with massive doses of love inter-woven into the cooking process.”


Beef Bouillon (3 to 4 Litres) (Home Made)

Recipe for Bouillon

Stewing beef with a little bit of fat

Roasted Baby tomatoes (preferably use very ripe tomatoes, skin off and slow-roasted in the oven)

Roasted garlic (Whole garlic, skin on slow roasted with the tomatoes)


Add meat and roasted tomato and garlic and cook for 3 hours, drain and voila your bouillon is done.

The Oxtail Recipe

2 kg Oxtail

Two cloves freshly chopped garlic

The juice of one lime (fresh)

3 Bay Leaves

One teaspoon cinnamon

Oliva Oil

Baby Carrots

Baby Mushrooms

Potatoes cut to taste

Potato (1 grated) but only close to the end of the cooking process

One cup of soaked borlotti beans

Two very ripe tomatoes, skins removed and chopped fine or blended.


Trim Oxtail to remove excessive fat.

Mix Olive Oil, Lime Juice, garlic, bay leave and cinnamon together. Rub each piece of oxtail and make sure it is fully covered. (Put in the fridge and marinate overnight).

Next day, take oxtail out of the fridge and get up to room temperature.

Switch Oven on, 180 degrees to warm up.

Open 1 x Bottle of Allesverloren Tinta Baroca 2012.

Pour one glass for the chef, taste and get to work. Ensure the Chef’s glass is always full.

On the stove top, slow fry each piece of oxtail to seal it completely.

Add in baby carrots and continue slow frying process. You will smell the flavour of the carrots release when fried over slow heat with the meat.

Add 1.5 Litres bone broth and put in a sealable casserole dish in the over at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 120 degrees and let the oxtail cook for 6 hours. Keep an eye on the liquid so that the oxtail does not dry out. If dry, add more bone broth.

At hour six, add in potatoes, mushrooms, fresh tomato and  borlotti beans and continue to cook for another hour. Keep an eye on the liquid levels. Top up but just enough to ensure the meat does not dry out.

Add pink sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and let it cook into the dish for at least 30 minutes.

The Natural thickener, if needed

Grate one potato and add 500 ml beef bouillon and slow cook until the potatoes are cooked away. You can use this as a natural gravy to thicken the sauce in the pot if necessary.

Serve with starch of choice. I like to have a variety of sides i.e., krummelpap, stywepap, brown wild rice and stampgrys.

Slow oven cooking has a way of releasing flavours differently. This recipe aims to have the oxtail off the bone with a lekker slap sous.


Send me your favourite family recipe for inclusion on this page to ebenvt@gmail.com.

Bon appétit!

Follow us on Facebook