Wednesday 3 November 2010

Ouma's Bobotie

My Ouma (my Dad's Mom) was Afrikaans; a proper boerevrou. I remember her working in the farm dairy, churning the butter, or outside making her soap in the giant sized potjie (which is now a flower container at my sister Iona's house in England). No-one could roll apricot smeer, make koeksusters or cook bobotie like Ouma could! My husband loves bobotie so I often cook him some using the recipe from my favourite (and first) cook book, Cook and Enjoy It. I've had this particular book since 1978: it was given to me by my brother-in-law Ian, as my bridesmaid present! The book is falling apart; the pages are stained and torn, but the recipes are as easy and as delicious as they ever were. Last night, before Husband could tuck in to his supper, I took a photo (above left). Even though I'm vegetarian these days, the smell and sight made my mouth water.

Bobotie is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. Made popular by the Cape Malay community - probably in the 17th century - it uses curry powder to give it a slight bite.  The dish can be made with a mixture of mutton and pork, but more usually it's made of beef or lamb or cholestrol-free ostrich, although, as a vegetarian, I also use lentils or butternut or mushrooms for my bobotie.  Bobotie isn't bobotie unless it's served with chutney, especially Mrs Balls Original Chutney, which South African ex-pats the world over will sell their soul for! Oven-baked, bobotie is a complex mix of flavours: curry, onions, dried fruit and spices all make it unique and delicious. It's best served with yellow rice (mixed with sultanas), a cucumber-tomato salad, and red wine (South African reds, of course!).

When Trevor Immelman won the US Open in 2008,  he selected bobotie as the featured menu item for Augusta National's annual "Champions Dinner" in April 2009. I wonder which recipe the Augusta chefs used? Below is the recipe I use from the fantastic "Cook and Enjoy It"; you'll need to adjust it to your personal tastes (e.g. I double the topping to make a thicker crust).


1kg (2lbs) minced mutton or beef (or lentils)
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 slice of white bread
1 cup milk
1 T curry powder (mild or hot, to your taste)
2 eggs
1 T sugar
2t salt and 1/2 t pepper
1/2 T turmeric
Juice of 1 lemon
3 T chutney
6 almonds, quartered
1/2 cup seedless raisins
4 lemon or bay leaves, or grated rind of 1 lemon

Simmer onions in very little boiling water untl swollen and glassy. Then chop them finely and brown slightly in hot fat.
Soak bread in milk and then squeeze out the milk again (keep the milk). Crumb the bread.
Combine all ingredients except 1 egg and the bay leaves.
Place mixture in a greased fireproof baking dish. Roll up bay leaves and insert them into meat mix in an upright position.
Bake in a moderate oven at 180C (or 350F) for 1 and 1/2 hours if uncooked meat is used, or for 45 minutes if cooked meat is used.
Beat remaining egg with a little extra milk (you can use the bread milk) and pour this over the meat half an hour before taking it out of the oven.
Remove upright bay leaves before serving with yellow rice and chutney.


Any kind of rice can be used, but long grain rice that needs cooking for more than 10 minutes works better than instant rice or rice cooked in a microwave.

Cook rice as usual with water and salt but for every cup of uncooked rice, add:

1 teaspoon (5 ml) turmeric (you can add 2 teaspoons if you want a darker yellow)
1 cinnamon stick

For the last 10 minutes of cooking, add 4 oz (100 ml) seedless raisins or sultanas. Remove cinnamon stick, fluff rice and serve.

Eet lekker! Enjoy your dinner!

NOTE: This post is proving very popular - it's featured on a Russian recipe blog and on Kathryne's Food Musings, a Canadian blog


CA Heaven said...

The bobotie looks delicious. I’ll order one whenever I make it to SA.

Your country is a very interesting mix of native tribes (or language groups) and English and Dutch influence. Was it like the Dutch settlers (Jesuits) were the first to come, running away from religious repression in Holland?

Maybe you can teach us the basics of SA history?

Cold As Heaven

Helen Ginger said...

The bobotie sounds delicious and perhaps even doable (I'm not a big cook). Thanks.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

@COLD: I'll make you one, if you ever come to SA! I've noted your request - will see what I can do, although my blogs are written up to the mid-January, so 'll add it in after. will give me time to get some ideas of where to start!

@HELEN: It is so easy and doable. I HATE cooking, but bobotie is easy and unfloppable. (and thansk for that wonderful review of Bed Book of Stories - it's created a rea buzz amongst the African authors on Facebook!)

Anita said...

OK! I'll see if the kids are interested in putting this on their Thanksgiving week of fun things to do...looks like fun (and yum) to me. Thanks for sharing!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

ANITA: It is yum - and not too spicy for kids either. I think they can skip the red wine though! :)

Judith Mercado said...

So you HATE cooking. I would never have guessed from this love letter to bobotie. BTW, add not liking to cook to the already long list of things we share. But I do like to eat.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

JUDY: :), it is rather a fond ramble about the joys of bobotie, isn't it? Nostalgia does that to me, as I haven't eaten meat for ages and I tend to make the meat bobotie for husband and parents to share.