Fancy some bobotie? It’s time to indulge in the exotic spices and explore the amazing cuisine of South Africa yet again. Sometimes I feel that my motherland’s cuisine is slightly over-looked. Therefore, I hope that my blog inspires people to cook more South African dishes. One bite and I’m certain that bobotie might become one of your favourite dishes when it comes to using minced beef. Many expats turn to this beef casserole when seeking comfort so far away from home.
This recipe is perfect if you feel like making a hearty family dinner and serving it with other traditional South African dishes. Oh, and don’t forget a imperative bottle of red South African wine! That rich and full bodied wine goes hand-in-hand combination with the punchy flavours of bobotie.
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being lactose intolerant
Do you suffer from food intolerances or allergies such as lactose intolerance? If you do, then you must know all about missing out on food that contains lactose, let alone eating dairy products. As some of you may know, I suffer from various food intolerances. So, not only do I know all about not being allowed to eat delicious food that contains dairy, but I am a frequent user of this phrase – ‘I’m sorry I can’t eat that’. It’s always a bit awkward to be considered a “difficult” eater, and everyone has to accommodate, whether it’s in social situations such as dates, corporate or family dinners. Although this is quite embarrassing, lactose does have negative effects on my body.
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what is bobotie
Some consider bobotie to be the national dish of South Africa. Despite of the long list of ingredients it is quite easy to make, and once you have it in the oven, you can use the time to make delicious side dishes.
The dish itself bears resemblance to the Greek moussaka or British shepherd’s pie. So if you like these dishes, I am confident that you will like my bobotie as well. In essence, bobotie is a curried mixture of minced meat, dried fruits and nuts that are covered in an egg and milk mixture. The dish is then finished off in the oven.
history of bobotie
The exact origin of the dish remains fuzzy to this day. However, it is documented that the Dutch settlers brought a similar dish with them to South Africa in the 17th century. The recipe was adopted especially by the Cape Malay community and was then adjusted to use the spices and ingredients locally available. The word bobotie supposedly comes from the Malayan word ‘boemboe’, meaning ‘curry spices’. Given the exotic flavour of the dish, this would make sense.
The exact ingredients can vary a bit from recipe to recipe. Families tend to have their own particular version. Some people like to use more dried fruit than only the raisins, and others prefer to leave out the almonds.
Traditionally the bobotie is made from either lamb or beef mince. Lamb does have a specific flavour that not everybody likes and I find beef to be a more all-round enjoyable flavour for everyone in the family. In terms of spicing, bobotie is an exotically seasoned dish but not spicy. Of course, if you can’t live without your chili you can add a pinch, but it should not be dominant in any way.
Along with the raisins you can also use dried apricots, chopped in smaller pieces. If you don’t like the idea of almonds mixed with mince, you can leave these out or replace with other nuts. I have heard of families topping of their bobotie with walnuts. If anyone suffers from a nut allergy, it’s best you omit nuts altogether. Another welcome addition is ginger. Some of the earliest recipes included ginger and some families still use it. Also, never underestimate a good pinch of ground cinnamon.
what to serve with bobotie
You need something to suck up all that juicy flavours from the bobotie, which is why it simply must be served with geelrys (yellow rice). A typical South African side dish for meats and stews. You can learn how to make it here.
Some vegetables as a side is also essential to complete the meal. It could be something as simple as green beans or a green salad. Or, you can make something equally exotic in flavour such as cumin roast carrots or something fresher like my mung bean salad. Or, for a more hearty option, you can serve it with boereboontijes.
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- 1 slice white bread
- 250ml (1 cup) milk
- 1kg (2.2lbs) beef mince
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 125ml (½ cup) sultanas or seedless raisins
- 125ml (½ cup) blanched almonds, whole or slivered
- 15ml (1 tbsp) apricot jam
- 15ml (1 tbsp) fruit chutney
- 30ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
- 30ml (2 tbsp) curry powder
- 10ml (2 tsp) turmeric
- 10ml (2 tsp) salt
- 15ml (1 tbsp) oil
- 3 large eggs
- 4 bay leaves
- Soak the bread in the milk, then squeeze it dry and reserve the milk.
- In a large bowl mix the bread, beef, onion, sultanas, almonds, jam, chutney, lemon juice, curry powder, turmeric and salt.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the meat mixture lightly. Turn it out into a ovenproof casserole dish.
- Beat the eggs with the reserved milk and pour the mixture over the meat.
- Garnish the top of the mixture with the bay leaves and bake at 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 for 50 minutes or until set.
- Serve with Geelrys (Yellow Rice) and vegetables.
- If you are lactose intolerant you can use alternatives such as almond, soy or rice milk.
Cuisine South African
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 15.6 g
Saturated Fat 4.5 g
Cholesterol 184 mg
Sodium 449 mg
Total Carbohydrates 11.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Sugars 5.2 g
Protein 43.3 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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