Lamb sosaties are a common feature of a classic South African braai (BBQ). The apricot and curry marinade might sound unusual but it adds a wonderful flavor to these tasty kebabs. So easy and delicious!
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If you think it's just the Southern US that does barbecue, you'd be wrong. True, they have a particular style, but grilling is a big part of the culture in many other places as well.
In South Africa, it's called a braai (Afrikaans for grill/barbecue) and these sosaties are a popular favorite.
Where does the name sosatie come from?
Sosaties are a Cape Malay dish and the name comes from the words "sate" meaning skewered meat and "saus", a spicy sauce in Afrikaans. While this is a dish that originated in the Cape Malay area, they have spread in popularity around the country.
There are a few variations to the sosaties marinade, but most at least include apricot jam, curry powder and garlic. Most recipes I found use wine vinegar, although I have seen some mention of tamarind which I imagine would be a tasty alternative.
The combination of fruit and curry flavors is something you'll see in a few Cape Malay recipes, like the classic bobotie, and give such delicious results.
What food do you have at a South African braai?
A braai is typically all about the meat, with skewers like these, sausages like the classic boerewors, pork and lamb chops, marinated chicken and steaks all common. Before it's ready, you might snack on chips and dips and billtong, similar to jerky.
The most classic side in some areas, including the Cape Malay, is pap which is a kind of polenta-like thick cornmeal porridge. Another popular dish is chakalaka, a spicy vegetable relish. You'll also find salads like potato salad. Another popular choice, especially for kids, is grilled cheese cooked on the grill.
Here we kept it simple with some salad and fried potatoes, which worked well.
Can you make sosaties with other meats?
Absolutely! This marinade can be used with beef and chicken as well. Lamb is simply the most common way to make these skewers, and the apricots do go particularly well with lamb.
How to make sosaties
- Soften the onion in a little oil and add the garlic and ginger.
- Add the vinegar, jam, curry powder and cumin. Mix well then leave to cool.
- Dice the lamb then mix through the cooled marinade. Leave a few hours or overnight.
- Soak the apricots in warm water to soften.
- Thread the meat onto skewers along with dried apricots and chunks of onion.
- Cook until the meat is cooked through then serve.
Not all recipes I found include onion in the marinade, but I felt it would add a nice additional flavor. Some didn't warm the marinade but especially using onion, you want a softened onion rather than raw onion flavor. It also helps the ingredients to combine properly which would be much harder if cold.
One of the great things about these sosaties is you can prepare them ahead and then they take just a few minutes to thread on skewers, cook and enjoy. The flavors are delicious and everyone in our family was immediately a huge fan. These are definitely going to be a regular on our summer menu!
Looking for more marinated grilling ideas? Try these:
- chicken satay with peanut sauce
- chimichurri marinated beef skewers (a delicious herb, chili and vinegar marinade)
- chicken gyros with tzatziki (classic Greek flavors)
- anticuchos (Peruvian chili-marinated beef skewers)
Plus get many more ideas in my summer recipes, from sides to drinks and more.
- ¼ onion
- 1 clove garlic grated or finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger (fresh) grated or finely chopped
- 3 tablespoon apricot jam
- 3 tablespoon wine vinegar (white or red - I used white)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (eg Madras)
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For rest of skewers
- 1 lb lamb leg diced - can also use shoulder
- 16 apricots approx
- ½ onion
- Finely chop the onion then soften it in a little oil in a small pan until it is becoming translucent but not browning.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook a minute then add the vinegar, jam, curry powder, cumin and salt. Mix well then remove from heat and leave to cool.
- Dice the lamb into relatively large dice (around 1 ½-2 inch/ 4-5cm dice), trimming excess fat or sinew. Mix the cooled marinade through the lamb then cover and leave a few hours or overnight, refrigerated.
- Soak the apricots in hot water to soften for around 15-20 minutes.
- Thread the meat onto skewers along with the soaked dried apricots and chunks of onion, putting one or other between each chunk of meat.
- Cook on a grill/bbq until the meat is cooked through then serve.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Try these other grilling and BBQ side ideas:
- St. Louis BBQ Pork Steaks by Palatable Pastime
- Grilled Porterhouse Steaks with Garlic Herb Compound Butter by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
- BBQ Brisket Burger by The Spiffy Cookie
- Corn Fritters by Back To My Southern Roots
- Grilled Brussels Sprouts by Jolene's Recipe Journal
- Orzo Pasta Salad with Feta and Tequila Dressing by Food Above Gold
- Best Creamy Pasta Salad by Daily Dish Recipes
- Strawberry Broccoli Salad by Sweet Beginnings
- Grilled Pineapple Mai Tai by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Hi Caroline, recipe looks good but I'll add that I've made sosaties a few times before and found lamb shoulder the best as the fat keeps them plump and moist as sosaties need to be cooked very quickly, other meats were on the dry hard side.(my hubbie is an excellent braaier btw, having had many happy hours braaiing whatever i bring to him!). i wonder if there's enough liquid in the marinade, but i will try it. Also wooden skewers should be soaked in water too - i forget why, and basting sosaties with leftover marinade while braaiing adds more yummy marinade flavour. I say all this because i LOVED sosaties in SA. There was nothing better than going shopping on a Saturday morning and someone was braaiing sosaties over a drum, or making lovely pannekoeke sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, which was all we could afford most times. 🙂
Yes, I can certainly see shoulder meat being more moist, and I do use it sometimes for these as well, as I mention it as an alternative. Much just depends how on the lamb available as I also prefer not to have too much fat and sinew as it can then be harder to eat/more likely to catch when cooking. Yes if you use wooden skewers soaking is definitely advisable - this helps to stop them catching fire when you cook (in the photos I forgot to soak them until the last minute hence a little charring!). I hope you'll give these a try and enjoy - we certainly haven't found them too dry. And getting these and pannekoeke/pancakes from the market sounds a lovely memory!
These were fantastic. Made them with lambs a few days ago. Going to try chicken tomorrow. I haven’t had a sossatie since I left South Africa 35 years ago. Boy, were these special. Thanks so much for a great recipe.
I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed and they brought back memories!
I've never had any problems with the apricots after freezing. Btw it is boerewors not boerewars
Good to know on the apricots, and thanks for spotting the typo - corrected!
Can these sosaties be constructed and then frozen?
The meat will be fine but I'm not sure the apricots and onions will be that great. What I'd recommend is you place the meat in the marinade then freeze this in a sealed container or freezer bag. You can then take it out when you are ready to use, and let it defrost overnight in the fridge. As it defrosts, it will marinate as well. Then, once defrosted, soak the apricots and cut the onion and put the skewers together, as in the recipe.
oh my gosh these look divine! I have to make them soon!
Thanks, indeed definitely worth trying!
This gets me super excited for grilling season! What a wonderful option!
Thanks, they have such great flavors.
This recipe is fantastic! The balance of the jam and curry is perfect. And the amount of the spices is just right. Can't wait to have the leftovers. Lol!
So glad to hear you enjoyed them, they're a regular for us!
I'm ready to fire up the grill and throw these on! They look amazingly delicious!
Thanks, they were an instant hit here and already set to be a regular!
In the South Asian region, they call this dish Behari boti. Very similar to that.
Thanks for the information - being a Cape Malay dish, it doesn't surprise me there's a similar dish is Asian cuisine. Good foods travel!
Colleen - Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck
These sounds crazy amazing to me! I'm definitely going to give them a try!
Thanks, the flavors are incredibly good! HOpe you enjoy as much as we did.
Kebabs are always perfect for a cookout.
I agree, they are indeed, and these ones have such great flavor.