When I think of South Africa I think first and foremost of my heritage, but also of how far removed I am from this seemingly bizarre world seven time zones and many miles away. My memory struggles to recall the sights and experiences of a seven week trip I made to the country fourteen years ago. I was there to visit what at the time seemed like my long lost family. I was there to learn about a tumultuous world that had an inner beauty so strong it managed to hold captive all of my paternal family, except one: my father. He escaped to the states long before I was born. Even though he never forgot his roots, any sort of South African influence in my life was so watered down that it is hard for me to say I am half Afrikaaner. I’ve never cooked a South African dish and it’s been nearly a decade since I last tasted a dish from that country.
The country, like it’s beginnings, is an eclectic mix of cultures coming together in an astonishingly beautiful setting. The food, like Its people, is eclectic too, with roots in many different parts of the world. This is what drew me to bobotie (pronounced buh-booty!–excuse my phoenetic short hand). Bobotie, a dish which could be considered South Africa’s national dish, came to be nearly three-hundred years ago. As a settlement–an ancient truck stop of sorts–developed in the Cape of Good Hope, so did this very peculiar and delicious dish. This stop serviced Dutch traders as they made the trek from Indonesia to Holland; the food at this stop reflected the collision of flavors from these two cultures. It stayed with the country ever since.
This dish is one memory I cannot forget from my trip to South Africa. It is a dish I have so long wanted to try on my own. Now, I finally have an excuse. To prepare, I began looking through recipes. Shock overcame me as I browsed through the various ingredient lists. How could this be?! Can these ingredients really come together to create something so delicious? I quickly found myself in what had to have been a Chopped nightmare.
Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but this recipe really does manage to combine some very different, exotic flavors that juxtapose each other perfectly. This dish is best served on yellow rice with uie & tamatie (onion and tomato condiment). A recipe for both follows the bobotie recipe and each can be prepared after you put the bobotie in the oven. This recipe also uses a mango chutney, both in the bobotie and as a condiment. You can go with store bought but making it on your own isn’t that hard. Check out my recipe here. Shopping for kitchen blender to make this recipe at this article.
3 slices white bread (crust removed)
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon curry
2 teaspoons turmeric
Juice from 1 lemon
1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground pork
4 bay leaves (or lemon leaves if you can find them)
3 tablespoons mango chutney
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup chopped raisins
Rind from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degress. Soak the bread slices in the milk until saturated. Remove from the milk and allow the excess milk to drain. Save both the bread and milk.
2. Add the oil and butter to a large saute pan and heat over medium heat.
3. Add the onion and brown, about ten minutes.
4. Add the garlic, cooking another two minutes.
5. Add the spices (curry & turmeric). Cook, stirring for a minute then add the lemon juice and continue to cook for another minute.
6. Add the lamb and pork; cook until the pink is just gone.
7. Add the bay leaves, mango chutney, almonds, raisins, lemon rind and sugar. Stir to mix thoroughly.
8. Beat 1 egg and add to the mixture. Add the bread from earlier. Mix well.
9. Put the mixture into a baking dish. Do not press it into the dish.
10. Beat the remaining three eggs with the reserved milk from above. Pour the custard evenly over everything in the baking dish. Leaving the meat light/fluffy will allow the custard to fill into the dish. You may need to use a knife of fork to aid this process.
11. Bake for 45 minutes.
While you wait for the bobotie to bake, prepare the condiments and yellow rice.
Uie & Tamatie Condiment Ingredients:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 small onion finely chopped
3 small tomatoes chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
Uie & Tamatie condiment Instructions:
1. Put the chopped tomato and onion in a bowl.
2. Mix together the vinegar, water, brown sugar, salt, pepper and oregano.
3. Add the vinegar mix to the bowl and toss. Allow this mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes.
Yellow Rice Ingredients:
2 cups rice
4 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup raisins
Salt and pepper to taste.
Yellow Rice Instructions:
1. Place all the ingredients except the raisins into a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce to a simmer and cook 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
3. Add the raisins in once the rice is cooked. Stir to combine.
Time the rice so it will be ready to serve when the bobotie is ready.
Bobotie is a great family style meal.
Not only is the uie & tamatie a great condiment for this dish, but so is mango chutney, freshly sliced bananas and coconut shavings.
I’d you’ve never had a South African dish, or bobotie I urge you try this recipe! It may look intimidating but it is a pretty simple dish to compose and it is down right delicious!
The best part is piling up your plate with all the delicious components.
Of course that neat, organized pile won’t last long. You’ll quickly discover this dish is best all mixed up, allowing the savory, spicy and sweet to all play so well together.