Bobotie fuses flavors from different nations to create a dish that is truly unique to South Africa.
What do you get when you mix influences from Indonesia and the Netherlands? South African Bobotie, a creation many believe should be classified as the country’s national dish.
Bobotie consists of spiced minced meat (usually lamb or beef) covered with an egg-based topping—the first recipe for bobotie was found in a Dutch cookbook from 1609. The Dutch are responsible for the sweet component in the dish—usually a dried fruit called sultanas (golden raisins), apples, and slivered almonds. In the 17th century, Dutch traders brought Indonesian slaves to South Africa and the descendants of those slaves became known as the Malays. As cooks for their Dutch masters, the Malays added their own Asian spin to bobotie (curry powder and turmeric), which are now a staple in this dish. The combination stuck and now the traditional bobotie recipe includes both European and Asian influences.
The name “bobotie” has mysterious origins that are often debated. According to the Afrikaans etymological dictionary, the term comes from the Malayan word “boemboe,” but others insist its namesake is based on the Indonesian dish “bobotok,” even though the two dishes don’t share the same ingredients.
This recipe from Epicurious combines all the sweet and savory components to make this culturally rich dish. You can watch the experts prepare it in a film following the recipe, and also download an easy-to-print PDF.
South African Bobotie
- minced lamb or beef, or a mixture of the two
- butter, vegetable oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 ml (1/2 teaspoon) crushed garlic
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) curry powder
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground turmeric
- 2 slices bread, crumbled
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
- finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 small lemon
- 1 egg
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt, milled black pepper
- 100 g (3 ounces) dried apricots, chopped
- 1 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored and chopped
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) sultanas (golden raisins)
- 50 g (1 1/2 ounces) slivered almonds, roasted in a dry frying pan
- 6 lemon, orange, or bay leaves
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
Set the oven at 160°C (325°F). Butter a large casserole. Heat butter and oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric, and cook briefly until fragrant. Remove the pot from the heat.
Mix in the minced meat. Mix together the crumbs, milk, lemon rind and juice, egg, salt, pepper, apricots, apple, sultanas (golden raisins) and almonds and mix in. Pile into the casserole and level the top. Roll up the leaves and bury them at regular intervals. Seal with foil and bake for 1 1/4 hours.
Increase the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F). Mix together the topping milk, eggs and salt (you may require extra topping if you’ve used a very large casserole), pour over and bake uncovered for a further 15 minutes until cooked and lightly browned. Serve with Yellow Rice and Blatjang.
Watch the experts at Epicurious prepare this recipe in this film:
Test this dish in your own home or leave it to the experts and sample bobotie with O.A.T. during Southern Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia & Botswana.