Bobotie (South African Meatloaf Casserole)

Bobotie South Africa national dish meatloaf casserole

“You say ‘bo-bo-tee’, I say ‘bo-boo-tie’…let’s call the whole thing off!”

But wait, let’s not!  Because no matter how you pronounce it, Bobotie is much too delicious to be the cause of our parting!

Bobotie.  Such a fun name, don’t you think?  The national dish of South Africa, Bobotie is a delightful blend of complex but perfectly balanced flavors.  Meat, fruit, nuts, and curry are just a few of the flavors that will please your palate.  Meatloaf fans, you’ll love this.  Casserole fans, you will, too.  And if you love both, weeeeeell this is the dish for you!

This dish stems from the influence of early Dutch and Malaysian settlers to South Africa.  Originally minced lamb was used, but other meats are now commonly used as well.  Though many variations exist, Bobotie is essentially a meatloaf that’s mixed with dried fruits, including raisins and apricots, along with fruit chutney, vinegar, curry and turmeric, and is baked in a casserole dish with a custard sauce poured over it.  It is traditionally served with yellow rice, which is simply white rice cooked as normal with some turmeric added to it for color.  A classic and beloved dish in South Africa, you are almost guaranteed to find it served in most any restaurant.  Bobotie is a great representation of how history and various cultural influences came together to create what is known today as South African cuisine.

This dish is a household favorite.  It’s one that we enjoy eating again and again and each time I’ve made it I’ve perfected the ingredients and ratios.  This authentic version is the end result of my experimentation and I’m confident you’re going to really enjoy it.  The blend and multiple layers of flavor make this a truly fantastic dish, or, as a South African would say, “lekka chow!”

Bobotie South African national dish meatloaf casseroleLet’s get started! 

I like to use a combination of ground beef and pork for more flavor.  Measure and set aside.

Bobotie prep 1

Dice the onions.

Bobotie prep 2

Combine the spices in a small bowl.

Bobotie prep 3

Heat the butter or oil in a large frying pan and saute the onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the curry, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice and cook for another 2 minutes.

Bobotie prep 4

Add the ground meats and cook until most of the pink is gone.  Careful not to over-cook and dry out the meat.  Add the salt, pepper, and vinegar.

Bobotie prep 6

Add the salt, pepper, vinegar, and jam (or chutney) and stir to combine.

Bobotie prep 10

Prepare the bread by placing it in a small bowl.

Bobotie prep 7

Pour the milk over it and let it sit for a few minutes.

Bobotie prep 8

Cut up the apples and measure out the dried apricots and raisins.

Bobotie prep 9

Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add it to the meat mixture.

Bobotie prep 11

Stir in the apples, dried apricots and raisins.

Bobotie prep 12

Add the egg and stir to combine.

Bobotie prep 13

Grease a medium casserole dish (about 8×10 or so)

Bobotie prep 15

Spread the mixture evenly in the casserole dish.

Bobotie prep 16

Prepare the custard by whisking together the milk, eggs, salt, and turmeric.

Bobotie prep 14

Pour the custard over the meat mixture.

Bobotie prep 17

Place some bay leaves on top.

Bobotie prep 18

Sprinkle with some slivered almonds.

Bobotie prep 19

Bake, uncovered, in oven preheated to 350 degrees for about an hour, or until the mixture is set and the custard is golden brown.

Bobotie prep 20 Bobotie 4

Serve with yellow rice.  Cook the rice as you normally would, but add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric per 1 cup uncooked rice.

Bobotie prep 21


Bobotie 6 sm

Bobotie (South African Meatloaf Bake)
  • 1 lb ground beef, lamb, pork, or combination
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon allspice
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam or mango chutney
  • 1 tablespoons malt or cider vinegar
  • 2 slices stale bread, crusts removed, and cubed, soaked in about ½ cup milk (use gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup diced apple, peeled and cored (about 1 medium-sized apple)
  • ¼ cup finely diced dried apricots
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • For the custard:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • For topping:
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a medium (about 8x10) casserole dish.
  2. Heat the butter or oil in a large frying pan and saute the onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the ground meat and cook until most of the pink is gone. Add the curry, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, apricot jam and vinegar and stir to combine.
  4. Squeeze excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the meat mixture. Stir to combine. Add the egg to the mixture and stir to thoroughly combine.
  5. Add the apples, apricots and raisins and stir to combine.
  6. Scoop the meat mixture into the greased casserole dish.
  7. To make the custard, combine the milk, eggs, salt and turmeric and whisk together until blended. Evenly pour the custard over the meat mixture. Place the bay leaves on top and evenly sprinkle over the slivered almonds.
  8. Baked uncovered for an hour or until the mixture is set and the top is golden brown. Serve with yellow rice (*see note)
To make yellow rice, prepare some white rice as normal but add ½ teaspoon turmeric per cup of uncooked rice.


7 Responses

  1. elizabeth

    wrote on

    I made this recipe for a themed potluck and it was wonderful. I wasn’t sure about all the different flavors along with the fruit but it was great.
    I didn’t have jam so I just used applesauce and cooked my casserole in a cast iron pan cutting the cooking time in half. Thank you!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi, Elizabeth, that’s fantastic! I’ll bet yours was one of most original dishes at that potluck and that the guests were “wowed”. It really is a delicious casserole and I love the blend of flavors. So happy to hear you enjoyed it, too!

  2. wrote on

    The flavors in this dish sound absolutely unreal! I’m unfamiliar with many African cuisines but something like this has me thinking I need to start experimenting with them. I wanted to let you know that I shared your post on my blog’s Weekend Wrap-Up, and am leaving the link below in case you’re interested. Thank you for your wonderful recipe, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Jess! Thank you! I know, there are so many layers of flavor and they come together so so beautifully in this dish. My whole family loves it! I checked out your wrap-up and it looks fab – thanks for including my dish! Thanks for visiting and I hope you’ll return!

  3. wrote on

    I’m using this for our “Eat Around the World” blog. This will be our South African cuisine along with Malva. Definitely will credit you on this!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks so much, I appreciate that!

Leave a Comment