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Bobotie, the national dish of South Africa, is a hearty stew made from a mixture of spiced meat and dried fruit baked with a creamy, egg-based topping, and often served with rice. This recipe is an adaptation from Boschendal.
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon curry powder
- 1 slice day-old white bread
- 1 Cup whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 Teaspoon sugar
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black better
- 1/2 Teaspoon turmeric
- Juice of one large lemon
- 12 blanched almonds, chopped
- 1/2 Cup raisins
- 4 pieces of lemon rind
- 2 Pounds minced lamb
- Cooked white rice, for serving
A bit of bobotie history
Bobotie’s roots in South Africa date back to the 17th century. Dutch traders set up camp in the area that is now Cape Town as a stopping point on their journeys back and forth to Indonesia. The traders brought spices, cooking techniques, and recipes with them. While the specifics are a bit vague, it is thought by some that the original bobotie recipe came from Indonesia and was adapted to fit the available ingredients.
Today many consider bobotie to be the national dish of South Africa, and it has become popular on menus featuring South African cuisine all over the world.
Traditional South African Bobotie recipe
15 ml olive oil
3 onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 kg ground beef mince
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
black pepper to season
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fine apricot jam
½ cup of chutney
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 slices of white bread, soaked in milk
500 ml milk
salt and black pepper
2-3 bay leaves
First off, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic.
Add the beef mince and brown – you can add ½ cup of water to help with the browning of the meat. This will take about 10 minutes.
In a mixing bowl combine the curry powder, turmeric, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, jam, chutney, sugar, tomato sauce and soaked bread. Mix until combined.
Add the sauce to the browned meat, and simmer for 30 minutes, mixing through regularly.
Transfer the meat to an oven safe baking dish.
In a mixing bowl – combine the eggs, milk and seasoning. Gently pour the egg mixture over the meat and add the bay leaves.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius until the egg has set.
Serve with yellow rice, sweet pumpkin and green bean mash.
Recipe provided by Anina’s Recipes – a food blog by Anina Meyer.
Please rate this recipe
5 votes, average: 4.80 out of 5)
How to Make Traditional South African Bobotie
While the full recipe instructions are available below, here are some tips to make this South African delicacy.
- First, soak the bread in milk. You want to use a bread that does not have a thick crust. A simple slice of white bread from the supermarket will work. While the bread soaks, sauté the onions and garlic.
- Next, add all of the spices, apricot jam, and chutney. The best chutney for this is Mrs. Ball’s Chutney. It’s a South African chutney that has the perfect blend of flavors. I would argue it is the best chutney I have found to date!
- While the spices are cooking with the onions, drain the bread from the milk and rip it into small pieces. Make sure you save the remaining milk for later. Add it to a large mixing bowl with ground beef and the sultanas and mix them together. Sultanas are yellow raisins that are smaller and juicier than normal raisins.
- Add the meat mixture to the skillet and cook it low and slow. This is important, because it will give the meat a tender, velvety texture. Once the meat is almost done, mix one beaten egg in with the meat. Now pour the meat into a greased baking dish and smooth out the top.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and milk with salt and turmeric for the custard topping. Pour it over the meat in the baking dish and place bay leaves on top. Place the dish in a larger dish filled with water. Bake until the top sets. It is important to use the second dish of water, because it will keep your bobotie from drying out.
Serve with more of the best chutney and yellow rice – enjoy!
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What is Bobotie?
The recipe first shows up in a Dutch cookbook dating to 1609 and was introduced in South Africa by Dutch settlers and subsequently adopted by the Cape Malay community.
The curry gives it a slight tang and it is often served with typical curry accompaniments and spicy Sambal and/or peach chutney (spicy or plain).
An interesting fact is that the 2008 Master’s golf tournament winner hailing from South Africa, Trevor Immelman, selected Bobotie as the featured menu item for Augusta National’s annual “Champions Dinner” held in April 2009. The tradition is that the reigning champion from the prior year’s Masters tournament played every year in Augusta Georgia, hosts the dinner and usually creates a menu with special delicacies from his home region.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 30g unsalted butter
- 3 slices of white bread
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 apple, peeled, diced
- 1kg beef mince
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
- 6 bay leaves
- salt and cracked black pepper to taste (e.g. 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper)
- optional: a couple of tablespoons of chutney (preferably Mrs. Ball’s peach chutney) or apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175 C).
Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium heat, add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add apple and cook for 2 minutes. Add mince/bread mixture and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until browned. Stir in 1 egg, curry powder, raisins, salt & pepper and lemon juice. Optional – stir in chutney or apricot jam.
Pour into a rectangle shallow baking dish (e.g. 20 x 30cm) or cast iron pot. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
Best served with Mrs Balls peach chutney and yellow rice ( known as “geelrys” it is made with turmeric and bit a cinnamon).
Below is a cool somewhat unusual video of renowned South African chef Dumi Ndlovu (he also designed KLM airlines’ African food menu) cooking Bobotie outdoors at a private game reserve in South Africa. His recipe is a little more complicated than the one above (never mind digging out a pit for an outdoor oven in the bushveld!) but shows that you can vary the ingredients to your taste.
Bobotie is a South African dish which comes in many different variations and therefore there can be a huge difference in its flavors. You can get this traditi onal dish with fish, beef, venison or ostrich. One thing all these variations have in common: a spicy fruity taste with only a hint of curry.
This popular South African meal is served with yellow rice and some green veggies, such as courgettes (zucchini), broccoli or green beans, it is just perfect for a typical South African dinner. Enjoy with medium sweet wine.
A typical Bobotie - South African food at its best!
The best bobotie I ever ate was prepared by a restaurant in Bo-Kaap. As the cooks changed and developped new dishes, I never experienced that fine taste again. After a lot of searching for this special recipe, I found the perfect taste.
I never thought I could get that distinct aromat ic mix, but hey, it was just sooo delicious and simple enough for me to cook. You just have to try it out!
Ingredients for a typical South African bobotie
for 4 persons | time: 30 min prep + 30 min cooking
- 500g lean beef mince
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
- 1 tbsp mild curry powder
- ½ tsp cardamon, chilli and coriander seeds mixed
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt, milled black pepper
Fry the onions in oil. Add curry powder, turmeric and spice mix, salt and pepper and fry another minute. Add in the mince and fry until browned but not dry. Then add into the mince-mix:
- 2 slices of white bread, some milk to soften bread, then mashed
- 1 tsp tomato sauce/puree
- 1 apple peeled, cored and grated
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 2 tbsp smooth apricot jam
- Juice and zest of one unwaxed lemon
- 1 garlic clove, pealed and crushed
Add all the ingredients into the mince and mix. Pour into an oven-proof baking dish and if you like it sweet, like me add the banana slices on top.
Then make a custard mix of and pour on top of the mince mixture.
Lay some flaked almonds or coconut flakes on top of the custard and some crushed lemon leaves or like in the traditional dish, bay leaves.
- 2 tbsp flaked almonds
- Crushed lemon leaves or bay leaves
- Coconut flakes
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 200ºC.
Serve with yellow rice:oil 250g white rice with half a tsp of turmeric, 6 cloves, 1tsp salt and 50g raisins in 650ml water.
Where to eat Bobotie in Cape Town? | Bobotie Restaurants in and around Cape Town
Visit the following restaurants to taste some really authentic Cape Malayobotie in Cape Town:
TRADITIONAL SOUTH AFRICAN BOBOTIE
Soak the bread in enough milk to cover the 3 slices and set aside for later.
Fry the onions in the oil until the onions are just soft and have some colour. Add the group A ingredients to the onion mixture and stir for 1 minute. Add the mince and fry together until the spices are well incorporated and the mince has just changed colour.
Add the ingredients of group B and mix well, stirring for a few minutes until the mince has cooked through. Take it off the heat and let it cool down a bit. Once it has cooled a bit you can add the soaked bread (squeeze out any excess milk first). Mix well.
Put the meat mixture into an oven proof dish.
Beat the eggs and milk together and pour it over the bobotie. Place the bay leaves on top (they will float around, that’s ok).
Bake at 180°C for 45 minutes or until nice and golden on top.
Serve with yellow rice and mixed veggies.
Recipe posted by Gretchen Kingwill Rozema
Photo 1: Annet Geelhoed
Photo 2 and note: Stephanie Kohrs Ferreira
(Absolutely amazing. I didn’t use sultanas or almonds. Used mild curry and a dash of brijani spice.)
Preheat the oven to 180 ºC.
Fry the onions lightly in hot cooking oil or butter and, if uncooked meat is used, fry with the onions until slightly cooked and crumbly. Soak the bread in the milk for 5 minutes. Squeeze to remove the milk and mash the bread.
Mix the fried onions, meat and mashed bread with the rest of the ingredients, except the topping ingredients. Spoon the mixture into a greased oven dish. Roll up the bay or lemon leaves and insert in an upright position into the meat mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes if uncooked meat is used and for 10 minutes if cooked meat is used. Beat the milk and egg together and pour over the half-cooked meat. Bake for another 30 minutes.
Serve with rice, poppadums and sambals.
If you liked this traditional bobotie recipe why don’t you try this vegetable bobotie recipe next time