I am balls to the walls proud to be a South African. My country has so much diversity, cultures, vibrant colours, bold flavours, over 11 official languages, and our government is always providing us with a good laugh.
I know many people who have emigrated for various reasons, I think to myself, would I ever be able to leave South Africa and not look back? The answer, (which did not take me too long to get to) is NO. Like most countries South Africa has its issues, but go to any other country and it is the same issues dressed in a different suit.
The bobotie is the epitome of South African culture – it has a bit of everything; sweetness, spice, salty, savoury, and a little bit of tangy. Even when making this dish at home your house will be over whelmed with the aromatic flavours of the spices. Your neighbours will be curious as to what awesomeness you are cooking up. You don’t need a South African to cook South African.
To break it down – a bobotie is a typical Cape Malay dish, prevalent from the Western Cape. This dish came together via a mix of cultures, hence the spices and complexity of flavours. Every household will have their own version of this recipe. I have played around with the flavours and ingredients, for me personally this is the recipe which has the best balance of seasonings.
I get to make this regularly at my present work place, a lodge in the Kruger National Park. I generally make it with lentils as a vegetarian option, which is also absolutely tasty. When offering it to overseas guests, I explain that this is one of the fundamental South African dishes; I can see from their faces they are not impressed with the way it looks, but looks can be deceiving. They inevitably come back for seconds and ask for the recipe on their departure so they can make it back home. I hope you enjoy this little taste of South African culture as much as I do.
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin, ground
½ tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp medium heat curry powder
500g beef mince
1 medium carrot, grated
1 apple, peeled, cored, and small dice
½ cup beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 courgettes, small dice
1 red pepper, small dice
2 tbsp apricot jam
1/3 cup raisins
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup coconut cream
Salt and pepper
2 slices of white bread
125 ml milk
For the rice:
1 cup basmati rice
10 threads saffron
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp salt
- Heat the oil in a pot with a large flat base. Sauté the onions until soft, but no colour, you may need to reduce the heat.
- Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and curry powder; cook the flavours out for 1 minute.
- Crumble the beef mince into the pot bit by bit so that it does not form lumps. Slightly brown the meat, once the liquid has been cooked out, add the carrot and apple, fry for 5 minutes. In the mean time soak the white bread in the milk.
- To the pot add the stock and bay leaves; reduce the heat and leave to simmer slowly.
- Once most of the liquid has been cooked out add the courgette and red pepper, cook for 5 minutes.
- Turn up to a medium heat and add the apricot jam, raisins, vinegar, lemon juice, and coconut cream. Cook until it is a thick consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
- Squeeze the milk out of the bread, reserving the milk, finely chop the bread and add to the mince mixture. the bread will help thicken the mixture slightly.
- Place the mixture into a baking dish, ensure it is nice and compacted with a smooth surface.
- Using the reserved milk from the bread, add the eggs and whisk. Pour over the mince; it should cover the whole surface evenly.
- Place in the oven at 180˚C and bake 15-20 minutes or until the egg is golden brown.
- While the bobotie is baking, rinse the basmati rice with water.
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add the rice and spices. On a medium heat, simmer for 5 minutes without the lid.Reduce the heat, cook for a further 5 minutes. For the last 5 minutes place the lid on so that the rice can steam, giving it a light a fluffy consistency.
- Serve with aromatic rice, toasted coconut, sliced banana, tomato sambal, and chutney
Tip: for a vegetarian option you can use lentils, otherwise any mince can be used such as lamb or pork.