Bobotie is a true South African classic. The origins of the dish go back to the 17th century and the original versions were made with a blend of mutton and pork (today,beef or lamb are more common). Traditionally Bobotie incorpotated mixed dried fruit and it was flavoured with ginger, marjoram and lemon rind (today curry powder is used).
South African settlers took bobotie all over East and Central Africa and you can find versions originating from Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and even the Congo. South African settlers also took Bobotie to the Chubut Valley in Argenina and the Welsh settlers there now make a form of Bobotie cooked inside a large pumpkin.
I was first served Bobotie by an Afrikaaner friend over 20 years ago and it's become a firm favourite of mine. The version given here is close to the one she first familiarized me with. For a more traditonal version, incorporating pork and some of the historic flavourings, see the Celtnet Historic Bobotie recipe page.
Traditional BobotieServes: 6–8
Ingredients1kg (2 lbs) minced (ground) beef
1 slice of white bread, crusts removed
200ml (4/5 cup) milk
100g (1/2 cup) butter
20ml (4 tsp) lemon juice
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp curry powder (this recipe for South African curry powder is good)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
6 fresh bayleaves (or orange leaves)
50g seedless raisins
Method:Place the bread in a shallow dish, pour over half the milk then set aside to soak.
Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the onion begins to colour. Now add the curry powder. Cook for 1 minute more, stirring well to combine, then take off the heat.
Drain the milk from the bread then crumble the bread into the mince mixture before stirring in the cooked onion mixture, salt,lemon juice, almonds and raisins.
Mix the meat mixture thoroughly then knead with your hands to help amalgamate the flavours.
Spoon the meat mixture into a well-greased shallow baking dish, pressing down to ensure a flat surface. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 170ºC (325ºF, Gas Mark 3) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the meat mixture begins to colour on top.
Now beat together the remaining milk and the eggs. Pour this mixture over the meat.
Take the fresh orange or bayleaves and roll hem up into cylinders. Poke these through the custard into the meat, but leave a little of the leaf to protrude from the top of the mixture.
Return to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes more, or until the egg custard is set. If desired, garnish with a sprinkling of toasted almonds and serve immediately.
For over 180 classic South African recipes, from all the different South African cultures please visit the Celtnet South African recipes and information pages.
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