BOBOTIE – A Classic South African Recipe

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Bobotie’s roots in South Africa date back to the 17th century. Dutch traders set up camp in the area that is now Cape Town as a stopping point on their journeys back and forth to Indonesia. The traders brought spices, cooking techniques, and recipes with them. While the specifics are a bit vague, it is thought by some that the original bobotie recipe came from Indonesia and was adapted to fit the available ingredients.

3 slices of bread

237 ml + 119 cup milk, divided

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 large onions, roughly chopped

4 teaspoon medium curry powder

1 teaspoon dried herbs (whatever you’ve got around – oregano, basil, marjoram, etc.)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (affiliate link)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

678 grams ground beef

119 ml fruit chutney (affiliate link)

1 tablespoon apricot jam (affiliate link)

Zest and juice of one medium lemon, divided

4 teaspoon tomato paste

Salt and pepper

2 large eggs

4 bay leaves


Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Soak the bread in 1 cup of milk.

Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, and cook until soft.

Add the curry powder, mixed herbs, ground cumin, turmeric, and garlic, and stirring constantly, allow to cook for a minute or two until the garlic is soft.

Add the ground beef, and cook, stirring frequently to break up any big chunks, until browned.

Once the beef is browned, remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the chutney, apricot jam (affiliate link), all the lemon zest, half the lemon juice, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, give it a taste, and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as desired. It should be delightfully zingy!

Squeeze the milk from the bread, reserving the milk for later, and smooshing and tearing the bread into small pieces. Mix the bread into the beef mixture, and spread evenly into an oven-proof dish.

Strain the milk that has come from the bread, and add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Beat in the eggs, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour this over the meat, and decoratively scatter the bay leaves (affiliate link) on top.

Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.


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