Bobotie (also spelt bobotjie) is a traditional South African dish and one of the best examples of colonization-driven fusion cuisine since the French-Vietnamese banh mi.
Once upon a time, the Dutch ruled the seas… claiming lands in the name of the Netherlands, trading far and wide, establishing the Dutch East India Company (the world’s first multinational corporation!) and generally being a weird combination of awesome entrepreneurs and colonizing jerkwads (I am half Dutch so I can say that).
For better or worse, it was a transformative piece of history and since the enterprising Dutch were butting in all over the world- from Indonesia to Africa to South America- unique fusion dishes like this one started popping up. Apparently the first ever bobotie recipe was documented in 1606!
I first tried bobotie in 2007 when I went to visit one of my very best friends who lives in Cape Town, SA. I fell in love with the flavours immediately- sweet, tart, savory, with mild hum of curry- there is truly nothing like it.
Everyone seems to have their own special recipe for bobotie but the core elements remain the same- ground meat, milk and egg, bay leaf, curry, chutney. I encourage you to taste, taste, taste, as you are making the meat filling and tailor it to your own palette- I have seen recipes include any number of the following: Worcester sauce, malt vinegar, sliced bananas, lemon zest, grated apple, ground pork and ground lamb. I read once that there is even a Scottish version of bobotie made with haggis so…
Once you have the basics down, I reckon this would be a very fun dish to personalize for your own palette.
I am not big on raisins in baking but they work so perfectly in this dish that I always include them, however, if you are not keen they may be omitted.
|Bobotie|| || |
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 500 g ground beef
- 2 Tbsp curry powder
- 3 Tbsp chutney (peach, mango or crabapple)
- 2 Tbsp apricot or peach jam
- 2 Tbsp thinly sliced almonds
- 1 small handful golden raisins
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 2 slices white bread
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 4-6 Bay leaves
- Sambal oelek (optional garnish)
- Chutney (optional garnish)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Soak bread slices in a dish with ¾ cup milk.
- Cook onions in a touch of oil until translucent but not browned.
- Add ground beef and cook until browned.
- Add curry powder, chutney, jam, almonds, raisins, lemon juice and salt. Stir well and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove from heat.
- Gently squeeze the bulk of the milk from the soaked bread and crumble the moistened slices into the meat mixture, stirring well. Add 1 egg and stir well.
- Beat the remaining 2 eggs in to the leftover milk and add turmeric.
- Scrape meat mixture in to a casserole dish and flatten the top.
- Pour egg mixture over the meat. Arrange bay leaves on top of egg mixture.
- Cook for 45 minutes or until custard topping is set and lightly golden.
- Serve with rice, sambal oelek and extra chutney.