Chips South African Family Monkey Gland Sauce
Archive > Issues > Issue #3: Animals > Monkey Gland Sauce

Monkey Gland Sauce

Monkey gland sauce is a South African classic: delicious but weird as hell. It’s so entrenched in our food culture there was even a limited edition monkey gland sauce flavour of Simba chips. You can buy it ready-made from Steers. It’s one of those things we just accept as part of the menu/braai. It takes a bewildered outsider (monkey what?) to even get us to question where the name might have come from. Not South Africa, it turns out. The origins of monkey gland sauce involve a Russian-born French scientist and a London hotel. The story, as told by Eric Bolsmann to Times Live in 2010, begins with Cavaliere Fiorino Luigi Bagatta, the man he claims brought monkey gland steak to South Africa. According to Bagatta, the dish was created at the Savoy Hotel in London. In the 1920s Dr Abrahamovitch Serge Voronoff had found fame for grafting monkey testicle tissue onto the testicles of men in a bid to keep them young and virile (the men). The doctor was a regular at the hotel, where his experiments were celebrated by the Italian Maitre D’, a fan, who named the steak dish after his work. Come to think of it, this story may also explain how Mrs Balls was invited to the party.

Bagatta was a waiter at the Savoy who relocated to South Africa in 1935, bringing the recipe with him to the old Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg. In 1946 he moved to Cape Town and brought the dish to the Del Monico Restaurant where it became all the rage.

People have different ways of making their own monkey gland sauce today: sometimes chunky, sometimes smooth. This version is an Afrikaans family recipe. We’re not sure if it will keep a man as juicy as it keeps a steak but there’s no harm in trying.

Recipe by Carlien de Bruyn


100g chopped onions

20g chopped garlic

10g chopped chilli

30g butter

30ml port wine

10ml Worcester sauce

10ml Tobasco sauce

60g Mrs Balls peach chutney

60g tomato sauce

1 tin tomato chunks


Fry onion and garlic in butter, then add all other ingredients and cook for about 5 – 10

minutes, stirring often. Can be served chunky or smooth (use a blender).

Page separator