Bobotie is not a new word to any South African. We either enjoyed the dish regularly at home or were treated to it when visiting family and friends. Like many traditional South African foods, bobotie actually comes from the Cape Malay descendants when slaves and refugees from Indonesia and Malaysia made their way into the Cape. When this all began, which was in the early nineteenth century, by the way, the Cape Colony was under Dutch control. One can assume that the dishes that emerged involved a combination of Dutch, Indonesian, and Malaysian influence (and flavours too).
Now for the interesting bit. What on earth does the word “bobotie” actually mean? Some believe that the name comes from the word “Bobotok” or “Botok” which are Indonesian words. This is an Indonesian dish consisting of veggies and coconut flesh – so not really bobotie as we know it at all. Only occasionally would they cook meat alongside the dish – the meat was cooked in a banana leaf! Another belief is (and this is an Afrikaans belief) that it comes from the Malaysian word “Boemboe” which means “curry spices.”
Either way, bobotie first made its way onto the scene when it appeared as a featured recipe in a Dutch recipe book in 1609! After that, it made its way into South Africa, where the Cape Malay community came up with its own bobotie recipe version. Traditionally in South Africa, bobotie is served with geelrys (or yellow rice) and chutney.
That’s enough history for now, let’s get to the good stuff, the recipe!
Another great South African recipe | How to make bobotie
This bobotie recipe is a firm favourite in many people’s homes because it’s simple to make and absolutely delectable too. The recipe below serves four and should take a total of around 40 minutes to whip up. You also need to note that you make the bobotie and geelrys separately. Let’s gather all the ingredients for bobotie that you need.
What you need for the bobotie
- ½ a kg of lean beef mince
- 1 finely diced onion (the more finely diced, the better)
- 2 tablespoons of ground turmeric
- 3 tablespoons of curry powder (a medium curry powder is best)
- ½ cup of chutney
- ½ cup of apricot jam
- 50 grams of raisins (you can also use sultanas if you prefer)
- ¼ cup of milk
- ¼ cup of blanched almonds (this is optional, but it really does add to the flavour)
- 2 slices of white bread with the crusts removed
- 5 eggs
- ¼ cup of cream
- 5 eggs
What you need for the yellow rice (geelrys)
- 1 cup of rice
- 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of turmeric
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 50 g of raisins (again, sultanas also work well)
- 1 pinch of salt to taste
What to do
Now that you have all the ingredients for bobotie, it’s time to whip it all up and bring the dish together. Follow these simple instructions.
- First, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Fry the onions until they become translucent.
- Add in the lean beef mince slowly and allow it to fry – use a fork to separate any mince chunks that you see.
- Add in the curry and turmeric spices and stir in well. Allow this to cook for several minutes.
- Spoon in the chutney and apricot jam, stir it in and then turn down the heat.
- Rip the bread slices into pieces (crumbs – the size isn’t important) and place them into a bowl with the milk. The bread will quickly absorb the milk.
- Add the soaked bread pieces to the mince – mix it in.
- Add the bay leaves to the mince and stir them in. Remember to remove the bay leaves before you bake the bobotie.
- Add the blanched almonds along with the raisins. If you don’t want to include the almonds, simply add just the raisins.
- Allow the ingredients to cook for a few more minutes, and then add the salt to taste.
- Grease (or Spray ‘n Cook) a baking dish, remove the bay leaves and then transfer the bobotie into it.
- Now it’s time to make the egg topping. You can do this by whisking the cream and the eggs together.
- Pour the mixture over the top of the bobotie. It will only create a thin layer over the dish, and if the bobotie is showing through, don’t worry.
- Pop the bobotie into the oven and let it bake for around 20 minutes. If the egg hasn’t set yet, let it bake for a little longer.
How to make the yellow rice
- Add water to a pot and bring to a boil with a pinch of salt and turmeric.
- Add the rice and cook until it is soft and fluffy.
- Strain the excess water from the rice and then add in the brown sugar, raisins, and butter while the rice is still hot.
The best way to serve this dish is with the bobotie as the main event, yellow rice on the side, and a small side serving of sliced banana and chutney.
If you’re feeding a family of four, it’s recommended that you double up on your recipe, as there will definitely be requests for more!
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