Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Recipe: Bobotie

Recently we had Bobotie again. I do not make it often as I find it quite a bit of work, but because I do love the taste of it I do make it whenever the mood strikes. When I make it I make it on African Wednesday as we eat African inspired foods on Wednesdays.

So recently it the mood struck me again when I was making my menu plan. 

I find Bobotie a very fascinating dish as it is a complete mix of dishes of various ethnic influences. The curry that is used is clearly from India. Some of the spices and the raisins used are from North African background. This is because at some point in history travel on the African continent became easier and trade started happening, so in South Africa they could add North African spices and such to their dishes. The combination of dried fruits and meats is definitely from North African influence.
The chutney is again from India.
It also contains allspice, this comes from the Caribbean.

It is totally understandable that this dish is a such a lovely mix. When you look at the history of South Africa you can see how many different people settled there over the times and all left their mark on the kitchen, as it always happens.
The Dutch have settled there, they made a farmers colony in Kaapstad, this was to make sure that their ships on their way to Indonesia and such could load fresh foods for the seamen. This made the trips a much less unhealthy experience. The Portuguese settled. The Dutch took workers (probably slaves) back from Indonesia and Malaysia.
After this the French came over. They brought their grape vines and there we have the South-African wines from.
Of course the British wanted to be there as well. They were travelling the whole world and really would like to have their finger in the pie. So they more or less kicked the Dutch out of the coastal areas, so there is also the influence of the British, who then brought people over from India and China. So there you go, a lovely mix of many people of many backgrounds and it all comes out in lovely food. 

Some people call it South Africa's Shepherds pie, others call it South-Africa's answer to Moussaka :-)

I served it with the standard yellow rice, and this time with peas, though generally it seems that Bobotie is normally served with a salad, or so I have been told.

Origin: South Africa (and the rest of the world ;-))

Difficulty: easy
Time: a bit over 1 hour
Serves: 6 with side dishes, 4 when stand alone
Yield: 4 to 6 pieces


  • pan
  • oven dish
  • oven


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • butter, lard, beef drippings or such
  • garlic to taste (I like to use several cloves)
  • 1 kg beef mince, not the lean variety, it makes the dish dry.
  • 3 TBSP bread crumbs
  • 2 TBSP curry powder, I used korma powder, usually madras powder or paste is recommended
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs, dried
  • 1 tsp clove powder
  • 2 tsp allspice powder
  • 2 TBSP chutney, I used red onion chutney
  • 3 TBSP raisins or sultanas
  • 6 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 300 ml milk (full fat, raw)
  • 3 eggs

Things to do ahead:
1 day ahead
You can make the meat mixture a day ahead, put it in the ovenproof dish and put that in the fridge.

  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / gas 4.
  • Fry the onions in butter for about 10 mins until they look glassy, stir regularly. 
  • Add garlic and beef, keep stirring, make sure the mince falls apart in small bits. You want it as grainy as possible. 
  • Stir in the curry, herbs, spices, chutney, raisins and 2 of the bay leaves.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Add bread crumbs
  • Leave it cooking for a bit, until all flavours have combined nicely. 
  • Put it all in a ovenproof dish. Press it down and smooth out the top.
  • Beat the eggs and add the milk with some salt and pepper.
  • Pour it over the meat mix.
  • Put the 4 left over bay leaves on top.
  • Put it in the oven and leave it there for about 40 minutes. Check after about 30 to see whether the topping is firm and has a golden brown look to it.

Possible substitutions:
dairy - coconut
butter - coconut, tallow, etc.
beef mince - chicken mince, turkey mince, pork mince, lamb mince

Enjoy! Let me know what you think! Leave a comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you!