Recipes As Old As Time


Although the cave people of the Sudwala Caves would have lived on vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots, and meat there are many recipes that are as old as time and are still very popular today. Here are some of our favourite ancient recipes.

Meat Pot Pie, 1700 BC

This delicacy has been enjoyed by many generations for over three thousand years. The earliest meat pie recipe originates from ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). It was written on three tablets dating back to 1700 BC and was later translated from ancient Assyrian by Jean Bottero, a French academic and chef, in 1985. Those three tablets are currently held by Yale University and, along with the pie recipe, contain detailed recipes for different types of stews.


  • 1 recipe pie pastry for a 23cm single-crust pie (store-bought pastry will also work)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 potato, diced
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups beef broth or stock
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 cups cubed cooked or leftover beef


  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pie crust out into a 30cm circle. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add potato and onion, and cook until the onion is tender, but not brown. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and stir to blend. Season with oregano, black pepper, and garlic powder. Pour in the beef broth, and add the peas, carrot, and beef. Bring to a boil. Transfer the mixture to a 2 litre casserole dish, and place the pastry over the top. Cut slits for steam, and flute the edges.
  4. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until crust is golden. Let the pie rest for 10 minutes before serving. This ensures that the gravy has time to thicken.

Recipe adapted from:

Stew, 6000 BC

The practice of simmering meat in liquids is one of the world’s oldest traditions, dating back 7 000 to 8 000 years. Archaeologists have found that Amazonian tribes used shells with a hard exterior, from large molluscs, as utensils for making stew. The Old Testament also makes many references to this type of food preparation – from meat stews to lentil and grain-based ones.

Beef Stew with Ancient Grains


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 454g beef stew meat, cut into 3cm cubes
  • 4 celery ribs with leaves, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups dried lentils, rinsed
  • ½  cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 5 large bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, dill works well as a substitute
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1.8l of quality beef stock


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add beef; brown on all sides. Transfer meat and drippings to a large slow cooker.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook, covered on the lowest setting for 6-8 hours until meat is tender.
  3. Discard bay leaves before serving.

Recipe adapted from:

Pancakes, 3300 BC

Flapjacks are a breakfast favourite all around the world and the history of this beloved breakfast food has been traced back to Otzi the Iceman who was alive in, approximately, 3300 BC.  Researchers at the World Congress on Mummy Studies revealed Otzi’s last meal was likely to have been alpine ibex and red deer meat, along with einkorn wheat flapjacks.

Ancient Greeks also consumed flapjacks and called them tagenias or teganites derived from the word tagenon (meaning ‘frying pan’). These teganites were cooked over an open fire on a clay griddle. The earliest mention of these flapjacks is found in the works of 5th-century BC poets Magnes and Cratinus. Their recipe included wheat flour and olive oil and the flapjacks were served with curdled milk or honey and, much like today, were commonly eaten as a breakfast food.

Greek Style Flapjacks (Tiganites)


  • 1 cup flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Honey, for drizzling
  • Walnuts or sesame seeds, for sprinkling


  1. Add the flour to a mixing bowl. Stir in the water and honey. Keep stirring until a smooth batter forms.
  2. Pour a few tablespoons of oil into a skillet and warm on medium heat for a minute or two. Add ¼ cup of batter for each flapjack. Cook each flapjack on one side for about 3 minutes, or until set.
  3. Flip the flapjack and cook for another minute or two until the flapjack is fully set. Remove the flapjack from the pan and repeat until all the batter is gone.
  4. Drizzle each cooked flapjack with honey and sprinkle with walnuts or sesame seeds just before serving.

Recipe adapted from:


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