Local is Lekker
~ South African saying ~
I created Melby’s Post to share my favourite recipes with the world. The blog was going to be an easy shortcut to get to those recipes I make over and over again, like my mother’s Apple Tart and my favourite Falafel. I get an e-mail once a month with Melby’s Post’s search results from Google. To my surprise, the recipes that I get the most “hits” on, were South African recipes. Yes, Melby’s Post gets lots of clicks for South African recipes like Traditional Tomato Sauce for Pap & Wors, Curry Chicken Potjie and Cremora Tart. So what is one of the most traditional South African recipes? Bobotie! I was not planning to add a Bobotie recipe, as I am not mad about Bobotie. But I have realised that my blog will have a gaping hole if I do not add a Bobotie recipe.
Actually Local is Lekker
I realized that I have made a confession of sorts again. No, Bobotie isn’t my favourite dish. My mom made delicious Bobotie but always served it with yellow (turmeric) rice. Definitely not something I enjoy. The Bobotie got a bad reputation and I have not made it often as an adult. A few years ago, I decided to invite some friends over for a traditional South African meal. That’s when I realised I actually like Bobotie when it’s served on normal white rice! So even though my Bobotie recipe has not been made as often as some of my other recipes, it’s still tried and tested. And it definitely is lekker.
As always with a very traditional dish, there are many recipes with different rules. Everyone’s mom or aunt or Ouma made it perfectly and nothing can compare. For Bobotie, there can be some debate about what type of meat and curry to use. My recipe is very middle of the road. I have adapted it from my trusted Kook en Geniet with inputs from my mother. I use beef mince and mild, yellow curry. My recipe is a bit saucier than usual, but that’s how my mom used to make it. I have also never added almonds on top as some recipes do. And you guessed it, I do not serve it with yellow rice!! Luckily Bobotie is nowadays such an iconic South African dish, that we can really give it any modern twist. So if you are more into Bobotie samoosas, or Bototie-filled pancakes, just use the basic recipe and do your own thing!
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 kg lean beef mince * see note
- 2 slices bread
- 1½ c milk, divided
- 2 eggs
- 1 t sweet paprika
- 1½ tbsp mild yellow curry powder ** see note
- 1½ t turmeric
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 t sugar
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1½ tbsp chutney
- 1½ tbsp smooth apricot jam
- ¼ c warm water *** optional
- ½ c raisins
- 4 bay leaves (soaked in water if dried)
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease an ovenproof dish and set aside. A deep medium-sized dish works well.
- Place the 2 slices of bread (crusts removed if you prefer) in a shallow dish and add one cup of milk. Let the bread soak up all the milk.
- Fry the chopped onion in the olive oil until translucent. Do not brown.
- Add the curry powder and turmeric and fry on medium heat for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the beef mince and fry until browned. Remove from the heat.
- Mix the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, chutney and apricot jam in a small bowl and add to the meat mixture.
- Beat one of the eggs and add to the meat mixture.
- Squeeze most of the milk out of the bread, but reserve the milk. Add the bread to the meat mixture and make sure you spread the bread out and that it doesn't stay in a clump.
- Season with salt and pepper and add the raisins. You can also add a ¼ cup of warm water at this point if your mixture looks too dry.
- Transfer the mixture to the ovenproof dish and decorate with the bay leaves. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- Beat the remaining egg with the other half cup of milk, as well as the milk left over from soaking the bread.
- Remove the dish from the oven and remove the foil. Pour the egg mixture over the meat and move the dish around to ensure that the "custard" topping covers the surface properly. Return to the oven uncovered and bake for another 10 minutes or until the egg topping is set.
- Serve with rice and a lovely South African red wine.
- Traditionally many types of meat were used in Bobotie - even left-over meat from roasts. You can use lamb mince if you prefer, or half beef, half lamb mince.
- The curry in Bobotie is not very hot, so any mild yellow curry powder will do. You can even use Ina Paarman Masala Spice if you really don't like hot food. I have even seen specially mixed Bobotie Spice in speciality shops. If you are using a Bobotie spice mix, you can leave out the paprika, turmeric and curry powder.
- I like building flavour by using both chutney and apricot jam, but if you only have one of the two, you are welcome to just use that. Same thing with the vinegar and lemon juice.
- My mother used to make her Bobotie a bit more saucy than traditional recipes called for. I therefore sometimes add a bit of extra water to the dish, but this is entirely optional. My husband assures me the recipe without the added water is how it should be.
- If you don't have bay leaves, you can pick some lemon leaves, wash them and use that instead of bay leaves. Traditionally sliced or whole almonds were also used to decorate the top of the dish, but growing up we never had almonds and now my husband is allergic to them.
- Making Bobotie in my Le Creuset braiser is certainly not traditional, but saved on dishes as I could do the frying and baking in the same pan. It also has a lid which means I didn't need to use foil for the first baking period. If you use such a wide, shallow dish you might have to make a bit more of the egg topping though. Feel free to add another egg and half a cup of milk.