“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!”
Let’s get started!
I like to use a combination of ground beef and pork for more flavor. Measure and set aside.
Dice the onions.
Combine the spices in a small bowl.
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.
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.
Add the salt, pepper, vinegar, and jam (or chutney) and stir to combine.
Prepare the bread by placing it in a small bowl.
Pour the milk over it and let it sit for a few minutes.
Cut up the apples and measure out the dried apricots and raisins.
Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add it to the meat mixture.
Stir in the apples, dried apricots and raisins.
Add the egg and stir to combine.
Grease a medium casserole dish (about 8×10 or so)
Spread the mixture evenly in the casserole dish.
Prepare the custard by whisking together the milk, eggs, salt, and turmeric.
Pour the custard over the meat mixture.
Place some bay leaves on top.
Sprinkle with some slivered almonds.
Bake, uncovered, in oven preheated to 350 degrees for about an hour, or until the mixture is set and the custard is golden brown.
Serve with yellow rice. Cook the rice as you normally would, but add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric per 1 cup uncooked rice.
- 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.
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a medium (about 8x10) casserole dish.
- 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.
- Add the salt, pepper, apricot jam and vinegar and stir to combine.
- 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.
- Add the apples, apricots and raisins and stir to combine.
- Scoop the meat mixture into the greased casserole dish.
- 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.
- Baked uncovered for an hour or until the mixture is set and the top is golden brown. Serve with yellow rice (*see note)