The Damhuis cookbook, Recipes and Memories of a House, is more than just a recipe book – it’s a collector’s item that captures the rich history of the Cape and celebrates delicious South African cuisine, seasonal ingredients and memories made around the table with family and friends.

One of the many highlights in the book is the somewhat controversial sheep’s head recipe.  Affectionately dubbed the “smiley,” this township speciality gets its signature look from the process of singeing the hair from the sheep’s head with a searing-hot metal rod. As the skin heats, dries and shrinks, the animal’s lips pull back to reveal an ear-to-ear grin.

Remember, Damhuis: Recipes and Memories of a House is on sale now and can be found at leading bookstores or purchased online in English or Afrikaans.


“Smiley” Sheep’s Head Recipe from Damhuis: Recipes and Memories of a House – Serves 6



  • 3 Onions (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 3 Sheep Heads
  • 10 Whole Cloves
  • 4 tsp Coriander (freshly ground)
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 tbsp White Vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper.



  1. Preheat the oven to 160 °C.
  2. In a large pot, fry the onions in the butter until soft.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, plus enough water to cover the sheep’s heads.
  4. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the heads to an oven tray. Season well with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover lightly with tin foil and bake in the oven for 2 hours.
  7. Increase oven temperature to 200 °C and cook for another 10 minutes until nice and crispy.


For another sneak peek of Damhuis: Recipes and Memories of a House, read the excerpt of acclaimed author Reinet Nagtegaal about the first inhabitants of the plot of land that would later become Damhuis Restaurant.