Bobotie: Traditional South African Food

Photo of Bobotie
The other night I spoke to a British girl who did some volunteer work in Africa about traditional South African food. She mentioned Bobotieand I was totally surprised that she knew what it was. Bobotie is a dish that I remember since my childhood days and something that my dad loved to make. It has a long history dating back to the early 1700´s.

Photo of Bobotie a spiced meat dish baked in the oven

What is Bobotie?

It consists mainly of spiced minced meat or lamb that is baked with an egg-based topping. It is also made with curry powder (not very strong) to give it a slight sting. Originally it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork. People also add chopped onions. Early recipes incorporated ginger, marjoram, lemon grind and dried fruit like raisins and sultanas (but not all people like it). It is garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas. Yellow rice is served as well.

Where did it originate from?

It is most likely that the recipe was brought to Cape of Good Hope in the early 1700´s by the Dutch East India Company. It is believed to derive from the Indonesian dish called Bobotok. It was adopted by the Cape Malay community. The Bobotie recipe was later transported by South African settlers to colonies all over Africa: Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

I did not know that the recipe was taken to Argentina by a group of farmers (Boer settlers), who settled in the Chubut River valley in the early 20th century. They placed the Bobotie mixture inside a large pumpkin and baked it until tender.

Bobotie was selected by 2008 Masters Golf champion and South African native Trevor Immelman as the featured menu item for Augusta National’s annual “Champions Dinner” in April 2009.

Guess what? I have been living in Argentina for 3 years and I have never made Bobotie. There is no excuse and it is definitely something that I am going to make soon!

Recipe:

Ingredients

• 2 onions, thickly sliced
• 1 slice white bread
• 1 cup milk
• 2 pounds lean ground beef
• 1 tablespoon curry powder
• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon white sugar
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
• 2 tablespoons vinegar
• 3 tablespoons chutney
• 6 almonds, chopped
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 4 bay leaves

Directions

1. In a large skillet, pour in just enough water to cover the bottom. Bring to a boil and add the onion slices. Cook until the onions appear translucent. Remove the onions and finely chop them. Drain water from pan and return to the heat. Return the onions to the hot pan and brown slightly. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

3. Soak the slice of bread quickly in the milk and squeeze it out. Set the drained milk aside. Crumb the bread. Place in a large mixing bowl. Mix bread together with ground beef, curry powder, 1 egg, sugar, salt, black pepper, turmeric, vinegar, chutney, almonds and raisins.

4. Place the mixture in a greased 7×11 inch baking dish. Insert the bay leaves into the meat. Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour.

5. Beat the remaining egg with 3 tablespoons of the drained milk. Pour over the meat and bake for another 30 minutes.

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

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