(South African curried meat casserole)
Bobotie is a very old South African dish with probable origins in Indonesia or Malaysia. The name derives from the Indonesian "bobotok," and the dish was likely adapted by Dutch traders and brought back to the region around Cape Town.
Somewhat of a national dish, every South African cook has his or her own favorite version, some very simple, others quite elaborate.
6 to 8 servings
- Oil -- 2 or 3 tablespoons
- Onions, thinly sliced -- 2
- Ground beef -- 2 pounds
- White bread, crust removed and cut into cubes -- 2 or 3 slices
- Milk -- 1 cup
- Vinegar or lemon juice -- 1/4 cup
- Raisins -- 1/2 cup
- Sugar -- 2 tablespoons
- Curry powder -- 1 or 2 tablespoons
- Turmeric -- 1 teaspoons
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Bay leaves -- 5
- Eggs, beaten -- 2
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the onions and saute until translucent and just starting to brown. Add the ground beef and break it up while sauteing until cooked through and crumbly. Remove from heat, drain off and discard any excess fat and place the beef in a large bowl.
- Put the bread and milk in a bowl and soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bread and squeeze it dry, adding the squeezed milk back into the soaking bowl.
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Add the soaked bread, vinegar or lemon juice, raisins, sugar, curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper to the bowl with the cooked meat and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. The meat should have a pleasantly sweet-sour flavor.
- Pour the meat mixture into a greased casserole dish and smooth out the top. Lay the bay leaves over the meat in a decorative pattern and press down lightly to make them stick. Place the dish in the oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Beat the eggs with the reserved bread-soaking milk. After the meat has baked for 30 minutes, pour the egg-milk mixture over the top of the meat and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the custard is set and lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and serve hot with geelrys and mango chutney.
- Add a couple tablespoons of mango chutney or apricot preserves to the meat if you like. A grated apple is also sometimes added.
- Stir a handful of toasted, slivered almonds into the meat mixture before cooking, or garnish the finished dish with toasted almonds.
- One or two beaten eggs can also be stirred into the meat mixture if you like.
- Substitute lemon leaves for the bay leaves if you can find them.
- Use ground lamb in place of the beef.