African Steak with Monkey Gland Sauce (Fruit Chutney)

Oh my goodness – today, I got my boards score and I’m so relieved/happy! It’s such a huge weight off my shoulders; I definitely had reservations about studying for such a major exam rotating in Africa. It was stressful with its many challenges (like no electricity!), but I’m so glad I went anyway and everything turned out well.

To celebrate, today I’m sharing a unique African dish with an awesome name – Steak with Monkey Gland Sauce!

What is Monkey Gland sauce? Before you run away, hear me out. This is a mix of chutney with tomato sauce / sugar / garlic served with meat. South Africa’s braai (BBQ) culture is huge, and Monkey Gland sauce is a popular condiment.

The history of this sauce is vague – originating in South Africa vs in London (and then brought to / made popular in South Africa). Various legends range from French chefs mixing up the concoction to spite the South Africans (which became an unexpected hit) to being inspired by the popular trend of grafting monkey testicles to men maintain virility.

I promise there are no testes in this dish and it’s 100% delicious.

I have a million African animal pictures (which I still have yet to edit). On my one side trip, I visited Kasane in Northern Botswana, near Chobe National Park, and at my lodge animals ran amok.  Literally, people driving at night get into car accidents with elephants crossing the road, so it’s quite dangerous.

On the safaris in Kasane, I have never seen a large density of animals in one area – particularly elephants, giraffes, impalas, and wildebeests. There’s also hippos, crocodiles, kudu, warthogs, and too many types of primates and birds to count.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see zebras, the national animal of Botswana, or lions, so that’s for another time.

On a random aside, there’s an amazing book by my Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky – Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers – which talks about the impact of constant stress in today’s society on our health. I was lucky enough to actually take his course during college (and alongside with all the neurotic type A premeds in the class, realized his research was totally about us), but his lectures are also available on TED talks, National Geographic, and itunes.

I definitely felt a lot unhealthier with the stress of studying for medical boards, so that side trip to Kasane where my brain took a few days off was a much needed break.

There were so many mischievous monkeys and baboons around our lodge, so those were my favorite pictures. On my last day, I spent an hour just photographing a large group of monkeys tackling each other on the lawn chairs, lounging on the docked river boats (like a boss), and stealing food from the restaurants.  
One fellow snatched a jar of orange marmalade and struggled with opening it for the next hour, but he succeeded! Some poor chef tonight can’t make his monkey gland sauce! Recipe adapted from Pick-n-Pay (a large South African grocery).

South African Steak with Monkey Gland Marinade

2-3 steaks
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons apricot chutney (any fruit is fine)
6 tablespoons tomato sauce or ketchup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine / red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced

Rub the steaks with the salt and pepper, cumin, and cinnamon.

Mix remaining ingredients for the monkey gland marinade in a large bowl. Pour half the marinade over the steak and reserve the rest. Marinate at least an hour, better overnight.

Place steaks on a grill on medium or pan sear in cast iron skillet or pan on stovetop, and cook to desired doneness while basting with the reserved marinade. Enjoy!

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  1. the title of the sauce is completely off-putting, but the ingredients are awesome and it would taste delicious to me! you might even be able to actually slip in some monkey glands without telling me and i'd still like it…
    going on a safari is high up on my bucket list!

  2. Hi Natalie, I just found your site via the blogging boost group page and I gotta say I absolutely love it! I'm a fan of food blogs and yours is completely unique to your own writing style and artwork. I will definitely be trying this recipe!

  3. I love learning about foods with wackadoo names like this. I had never heard of monkey gland sauce, and I wouldn't have guessed it was related to barbecue sauce, but it sounds delicious.