Bobotie has been recognized as South Africa's national dish. With influences introduced by the spices of Cape Malay cooking, the medieval culinary practices of the Dutch settlers to the indigenous practices of rearing and eating beef, it is no wonder that this melting pot is the rainbow nations's national dish.
There are many ways of making bobotie and a vast variety of recipes can be found on the net that at times it is difficult to tell which is the most authentic bobotie. A traditional bobotie is said to have 6 key elements which influence the flavor, cooking technique, and consistency of the dish. These are curry spice, cinnamon, jam, raisins, bread soaked in milk, and bay leaves. The result should be a balance between spicy and sweet, however the sweetness should never overpower the dish.
Some people have described it as a type of meatloaf, or a dish not dissimilar to moussaka. The consistency of the bobotie varies from being a stiff meatloaf type of result to a more softer mincemeat sauce type of consistency. Traditionally, it is a meat dish made with minced beef, lamb, or even ostrich.
As people's preferences for specialized diets have grown, there are also vegetarian and vegan alternatives for this dish. It is custom to serve bobotie with a spicy yellow rice, but any type of plain rice or a mildly seasoned pilau rice will go very well with bobotie.
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp. grated ginger
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 3 cloves
- 2 tbsp. Mrs. Balls Chutney (plus more for topping)
- 600 g. mince beef
- 1 tbsp. vinegar
- 1 tbsp. Worcester sauce
- 1 beef stock cube
- 2 slices white, crustless bread (soaked in milk)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup/125 ml. milk
- 1 tsp. turmeric (make sure it's level)
- Optional: 2 tbsp. double cream
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Handful bay leaves
- Preheat oven to 340 F/ 170 C.
- In a large sauté pan, fry the onions, garlic, and ginger in the butter until soft and golden brown.
- Add the spices, chutney, minced beef, vinegar, Worcester sauce, and stock cube.
- When the mince has browned, add the pre-soaked bread and work into the mixture.
- Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and bake, covered, in the oven for 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the egg, milk, and turmeric to make the savory custard mix.
- Add cream for an extra rich custard topping.
- Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Remove the mince mixture from the oven, uncover, then pour the egg mix over.
- Arrange the bay leaves on top then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- The bay leaves should be fragrant and the surface of the custard, golden brown.
- Serve with rice and top with additional chutney, if desired.