South African Bobotie is the beloved national dish. It is pronounced ba-boor-tea. A true comfort food always served with yellow rice called geelrys. The dish is a minced -curried meat casserole with a delicious egg custard topping. It is believed to have originated from the Cape Malays.
The origin of the name bobotie is disputed, however the Afrikaans etymological dictionary claims that probable origin comes from the Malayan word boemboe, meaning curry spices. The first recipe for South African bobotie appeared in a Dutch cookbook back in the early 1600’s.
As the national dish, it is no surprise that there are all sorts of recipes for it. Each family having their own sacred recipe. The bottom line is it can be made with multiple types of meat like beef, lamb or turkey. It can be spiced up in all sorts of ways but generally speaking curry of some type is used. It also has some type of dried fruit like raisins or apricots. Additionally South African bobotie can be garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas. Sambal is typically served alongside. When you make this one feel free to include what you love, you truly can’t go wrong.
Did you know that two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street in the town of Soweto in South Africa? They were Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, both recognized for their work on apartheid and human rights. If you would like to learn more about more be sure to check out “Our Journey to South Africa”, there you will also find more authentic recipes like biltong, geelrys and melktert.
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South African Bobotie
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 2 slices bread
- ½ cup milk
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 pounds lean ground beef lamb or turkey
- 1 large apple grated
- 1/3 cup fruit chutney
- 1/4 cup sultanas or raisins
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
Egg Custard Topping
- 3 eggs
- 5-6 bay leaves
- ½ cup cream
- ½ cup milk
- Pre-heat oven at 350 deg
- In a medium bowl, mix together milk and bread to soften it. Set aside.
- Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish
- Heat up a large skillet over medium heat, add butter until melted, add in onions and garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes just until soft and fragrant.
- Next stir in the spices: curry powder, turmeric, ground cumin, coriander, thyme and oregano.
- Add ground meat and stirring constantly to break it up, cook until beef is no longer pink or slightly brown. Remove from the stove.
- Add to a bowl, followed by bread mixture, chutney, grated apple, lemon juice and zest, and Worcestershire – add sultanas or raisins. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix all together well.
- Add beef mixture into greased casserole dish. Using a spoon press the beef mixture down. This helps keep the egg mixture on top and forms a nice custard top when baked,
- Bake in the oven for around 40-50 minutes.
- While bobotie is baking, mix together eggs, cream, milk and a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric.
- Take the meat out of the oven, pour the egg mixture over the beef. Arrange the bay leaves on top.
- Bake for another 20 minutes (check after 15 minutes ) or until the egg mixture has set.
- Remove and let it rest for a few minutes then serve with yellow rice and vegetables.