The Only Bobotie Recipe You'll Ever Need
This South African original is similar to meatloaf, but so much better. A slightly sweet curry flavors ground beef with a milk and egg custard on top.
Bobotie is a South African casserole with curried ground beef at the bottom and a thin layer of egg custard on top.
Planning a ‘Bring and Braai’ (or barbeque) is one of the more traditional ways to host a social gathering in South Africa. If you're considering it for the Christmas holidays, you'll find the recipe here. But first, some bobotie history.
Bobotie’s roots in South Africa date back to the 17th century. Dutch traders set up camp in the area that is now Cape Town. It was a stopping point on their journeys back and forth to Indonesia. The traders brought spices, cooking techniques, and recipes with them. While the specifics are a bit vague, it is thought by some that the original bobotie recipe came from Indonesia and was adapted to fit the available ingredients.
Today many consider bobotie to be the national dish of South Africa. And it has become popular on menus featuring South African cuisine all over the world.
Bobotie - A Classic South African Recipe
- 3 slices of bread
- 1 cup + ½ cup milk, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, roughly chopped
- 4 teaspoons medium curry powder
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (whatever you’ve got around – oregano, basil, marjoram, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1½ pound ground beef
- ½ cup fruit chutney
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- Zest and juice of one medium lemon, divided
- 4 teaspoons tomato paste
- Salt and pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 4 bay leaves
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Soak the bread in 1 cup of the milk.
- Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, and cook until soft.
- Add the curry powder, mixed herbs, cumin, turmeric and garlic, and stirring constantly, allow to cook for a minute or two until the garlic is soft.
- Add the ground beef, and cook, stirring frequently to break up any big chunks, until browned.
- Once the beef is browned, remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the chutney, apricot jam, all the lemon zest, half the lemon juice, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, give it a taste, and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as desired. It should be delightfully zingy!
- Squeeze the milk from the bread, reserving the milk for later, and smooshing and tearing the bread into small pieces. Mix the bread into the beef mixture, and spread evenly into an ovenproof dish.
- Strain the milk that has come from the bread, and add the remaining ½ cup of milk. Beat in the eggs, and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour this over the meat, and decoratively scatter the bay leaves on top.
- Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
It is the curry powder and the bay leaves that impact the flavour of this dish most. So use the best quality that you can.
It's great to prepare and bake this recipe in a cast-iron skillet. It can go from stovetop to oven, and even look beautiful on the table. Plus it makes for less dishes to wash later!