Hearty Lamb & Bay Leaf (or Horopito) Goulash

As with many of my recipes, this goulash can be prepared with what is available. You can use beef in place of lamb, kumara in place or potato and, if you can get your hands on some fresh or dried horopito leaves they contribute a subtle peppery undertone to the stew.
Servings 4
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours


  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 500 g lamb shoulder cut into 2 cm dice (read more below)
  • 2 tablespoons flour for gluten-free, use brown rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 litre stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves or 4 horopito leaves
  • 2 carrots chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 2 potatoes chopped into 2cm cubes

To serve:

  • Chopped parsley
  • Cooked pasta shells or spirals
  • Sour cream


  • Heat a large casserole dish over a low heat and add the butter or oil. Add the onions and saute gently until soft, about five minutes.
  • In a bowl place the meat, flour, paprika, oregano, salt and cayenne, tossing to combine. Add the meat to the onions, turn up the heat and cook until lightly browned.
  • Pour in the stock or water, and add tomato paste and bay leaves (or horopito). Cover and bring to a gentle simmer, turn down the heat and cook for one hour.
  • Add the carrots and potatoes, and simmer for a further 40-50 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Check flavour and adjust seasoning with extra cayenne and salt. Scatter with chopped parsley and serve with cooked pasta, sour cream and sauteed winter greens.


Slow cooker variation
Once the meat and onions have browned, tip into a warmed slow cooker. Add the stock, tomato paste and bay leaves. Cook on low for five to six hours, adding the vegetables in for the last hour.

I am a self-confessed hoarder, squirreling away food when it is fresh and abundant, preserving excess garden produce into jars over summer and autumn.

I also make use of the more modern form of storage – the chest freezer.  Meat products are purchased in bulk from the butcher at a discounted rate, and I am always on the lookout for specials to “fill the freezer”. It is more energy efficient to keep a freezer full, as the frozen goods keep a consistent temperature. The trick is to keep everything in rotation.

When purchasing meat, I don’t shy away from the cheaper cuts. Although generally not suitable for quick cooking stir-fry or barbecue, when slow-cooked they are melt-in-the-mouth.

In the case of this goulash, although not traditional, I use lamb shoulder. A whole shoulder being too big for my small family to consume in one go, I instead cube the meat to freeze into 500g portions, or make a large batch of goulash and freeze the leftovers.

This is a family recipe, inspired by my Taiwanese aunty, Corina – learned from her German partner and famous in Taipei. Although I have changed her original recipe, with Corina using the more traditional beef (chuck steak) and served with less traditional brown rice, the rich stew base comes from her tutelage. I add my own Kiwi spin on this Hungarian classic with the addition of peppery horopito in place of bay leaf.

We have a special native bush spot we visit regularly where horopito grows happily. I harvest the darker red leaves for a strong pepper flavour, and dry them for using in cooking. When camping in the bush I often cook over open fire, which adds an extra smoky dimension to the goulash. Or at home it sits atop the fireplace slowly cooking away on a cold wintry day.

In response to this recipe in my food column for The Press last week I received this email from Marlene with permission to share her tips – I for one am now starting a ‘freezer book’:

“Reading your article in your column today, prompts me to write to you and comment on – freezer – “The trick is to keep everything in rotation.”

Ever since I set up home by myself, after travelling overseas, I have had a freezer – that’s 47 years. What I do is have a book – I find an A5 size is a good size – and I write down everything I put in the freezer.   I write the date I put the item in the freezer, then I give a brief description, e.g. chicken pie, and the place I purchased it, e.g. Fr. Ch. (stands for Fresh Choice) one can devise their own abbreviations. Then I would put the price. This information helps me to quickly identify what I am looking for, after having decided upon looking in my Freezer Book, what I would like for dinner that night. In all those years I have never come across anyone else who keeps a Freezer Book! Instead I hear people say, they had a clean out of their freezer and threw a lot of food away, because they didn’t know how long it had been in their freezer! 

Another tip – Many of the supermarkets reduce their meat products early in the day and they are then on the shelf at a discounted price. You do have to be in the supermarket by about 9.00 a.m-ish though to get the good bargains. I never ever pay the original asking price of meat! You just need to have patience if you are looking for lambs’ shanks, but they are there from time to time at a discounted price.”

I love receiving emails about recipes or garden/kitchen/cooking tips. I share what I have learned thus far on my cooking and gardening journey, and I love learning new ways and ideas from others. You can share a comment below or email me anytime. Keep warm! Nicola (p.s. scroll down for some exciting cookbook news.)

Homegrown Kitchen Cookbook – PANZ Awards Shortlist

Some exciting news – my Homegrown Kitchen cookbook is on the shortlist for best cookbook design in the PANZ 2018 Book Design Awards. A big thank-you to the team at Potton & Burton, especially Lisa and Annabel for the beautiful template design, you both listened to my ideas and made them look better than I could have imagined. Also to Robbie and in-house designer Al, I will never forget the days we spent huddled around Al’s computer with mountains of printed pages checking every last detail.

Find the full shortlist HERE.

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