Nov 23, 2013

South African Bobotie

In 2007, we had the privilege of living in South Africa for a few months. We were previously in this beautiful country way back in 2004 for our honeymoon in Cape Town. We absolutely loved our time there. How can we ever forget this country? It has so much to offer.....majestic scenery like that of Table Mountain.....

amazing animals and fantastic safari adventures....

and of course, food, glorious food that's uniquely South African.

Now apart from Boerewors (farmer's sausage) which amazingly we can get from our local butcher (what a treat!) another big South African favorite dish of ours is Bobotie.

Bobotie is often considered as the national dish of South Africa. It consists of spiced minced (ground) meat with an egg-based/custard topping. Often fruits such as raisins and dried apricots and sometimes chutney are added to lend sweetness to the dish and to provide contrast to the curry powder and other spices. Overall, it can be described as a pleasingly spiced slightly sweet dish, with a very light curry flavor. The overall taste is deliciously complex with each ingredient magically working together to form such a delightful blend that is sure to please anyone's palate. While traditionally, bobotie doesn't have tomatoes in it, I added some to this particular version to provide some moisture, freshness and tang! And the result is truly an exquisite Bobotie. You simply can't go wrong with this wonderful and perfectly spiced dish! Don't forget to serve it with rice!


Handy tool:  9 x 13 Baking dish, foil for cover

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Onions, chopped
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
1 Tablespoon Curry powder* 
2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground Cumin  
1 kilo (2 lbs) ground/minced Beef
1 large carrot, grated
1 cup Tomato Puree*
5-6 Tablespoons fruit chutney or apricot jam/preserve* 
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon ground Pepper or to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup Raisins (or sultanas)

For the Topping

2 Eggs
1 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Turmeric
5-6 bay leaves
1/2 cup flaked Almonds 

*I use the medium spicy curry. But don't worry even if you use the hot one - it still would not be overly spicy as there are other flavors in this dish that tone it down or complement it.

*If using the Apricot jam, you may need to add an extra 2-3 tablespoons (or adjust to taste) because it’s not as intensely sweet or flavorful as the chutney. If you can find Mrs. Ball's Chutney - even better. It is a South African brand that makes this Bobotie truly yummy. But if not, don't fret, all the spices and flavorings work together to make this so tasty so even if you cannot find the exact ingredient, it will still taste good.

*For the tomato puree, I use fresh roma tomatoes that I puree in a food processor or blender. This adds freshness and sweetness so I suggest using fresh tomatoes rather than canned unless it's more convenient.


Prepare all the ingredients before cooking and make sure that all the spices are at hand. This will make it easier to cook the Bobotie. 

Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Fry the garlic and onions for about 2 minutes or until the onions are slightly tender. Adjust the heat to low and then add the ginger and other spices (cinnamon, curry powder and cumin). Cook briefly just until fragrant. This is very quick.

Crumble the ground beef into the onion mix and coat with the spices. Add the rest of the ingredients - grated carrot, pureed tomatoes, salt, chutney, beaten egg and raisins. Stir to mix everything evenly. Simmer on low for about 5-10 minutes. (This is optional. I want to taste it first and make sure that I like the flavor so I simmer it first but feel free to skip this.)

Transfer the beef mixture to the prepared pan, cover with foil and then bake for 40 minutes.

Prepare the topping before the 40 minutes is over. 

For the topping

Whisk the eggs with the milk, salt and turmeric.

Take the dish out of the oven and pour the egg mixture over. Slip in the bay leaves and then scatter the flaked almonds all over. 

Bake for another 30-40 minutes or until fully set. Serve with rice! Very lekker - delicious, indeed!

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  1. G'day! Your photo is mouth watering, true!
    I have never made, but based on your photo and recipe, is now on my list to do!
    Cheers! Joanne

    1. Hi Joanne! I hope you get the chance to make it as this is a big family favorite. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. You should be sticking leaves from orange or lemon tree in the dish once the custard is added. Mrs. Balls is sometimes to be found at Workd Market in the US. There is also another option, can't quite remember the name, but it is also found at W.M. Its made in the Cape as well. I would Never add tomatoes and still call it Bobotie. It becomes more of a Bredie then. Although I am sure your version is very tasty. Or as South Africans would say, Lekker! Glad you enjoyed your stay!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Clair. I suppose everyone tweaks their recipe some other way and yes, you're right this is lekker. Appreciate you stopping by.


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