Meal to Share: South African

Posted on | March 31, 2011 | 13 Comments

It’s Meal to Share time! My monthly collaboration with Penny and Celeste where we each cook a course based on a set theme. This month’s theme is “South African” and I was allocated the main course. I made bobotie, which is a baked curried mince dish, with a milk and egg topping.


The menu

Entree: Mini Bunny Chow, made by Penny.

Mains: Bobotie, made by me!

Dessert: Malva Pudding made by Celeste


The first time I ever tried bobotie was during our trip to Southern Africa in 2007. I actually went digging into my photo archives to find a photo of it, but unfortunately it didn’t look very appetizing – so here are two animal photos instead! It was nice to go through our holiday photos again though – oh, the wildlife (ELEPHANTS! ZEBRAS! LIONS! GIRAFFES! MORE ELEPHANTS!!!), the landscapes, the memories. Sigh! (Can you tell I’m hanging out for another holiday again?? And that I think elephants are awesome?)

But back to bobotie. As mentioned above, it’s a curried mince dish, that’s baked with a milk and egg topping. It’s quite an old dish, believed to date back to the 17th century, and is thought to have originated from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia (now Indonesia) and adopted by the Cape Malay community in South Africa.

I looked at several recipes online, and all the recipes seem to have a couple of things in common apart from the mince and egg topping: curry powder, raisins, and chutney/jam (I used apricot jam). It sounds like it should be a bit wrong – curry powder AND raisins AND jam? Yet somehow, it all comes together. The sweetness and fruitiness from the raisins and jam really complements the spicy, curried mince. I’m not generally a fan of fruit and meat together, but I have to tell you – if you don’t like raisins, suck it up, because you MUST include them in this dish. You also must make the yellow rice – I believe they’re always served together. The rice is easy anyway, and is perfect with the bobotie.

I really recommend giving this a try. It is much more delicious than it sounds! And don’t forget to check out Penny’s and Celeste’s posts for the rest of the meal.


Very roughly adapted from

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 tbs olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1kg beef mince
1 egg
2 slices white bread
2-3 tablespoons curry powder (the amount will depend on your brand of powder)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons apricot jam or chutney (if using chutney, you may need less)
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
Salt to taste

For the egg and milk topping
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup (250ml) milk
2 eggs
6 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Place the bread in the milk (that’s used in the egg and milk topping) and set aside.

First, brown the mince. In a frying pan over high heat, brown the mince in small batches and set aside.

Next, cook the onions and garlic over low heat for 10 minutes or so, until soft. (I used the same frying pan that I browned the mince in.)

Stir in the browned mince, curry powder, turmeric, ground ginger, cumin, raisins, jam/chutney, and vinegar. Mix to combine. Taste and season with salt. You may need to add more curry powder or jam – you should be able to taste the curry, but it should also be slightly sweet and fruity. Take the meat off the heat.

Going back to the bread, squeeze out all the excess milk (reserving the milk for later) and mix the bread into the meat mixture. Stir in the egg.

Pour into a baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Beat together the reserved milk, extra turmeric and eggs. Remove the meat dish from the oven, discard the foil and pour the egg mixture over the top. Lay the bay leaves down the centre and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve with yellow rice.

Yellow Rice

2 cups long grain white rice
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup black raisins
1 tablespoon butter

In a saucepan, combine the rice, salt, turmeric, cinnamon, raisins, butter and water. Cover and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let it simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes to finish absorbing all the water. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Alternatively, throw all the ingredients in a rice cooker, turn it on and walk away. Too easy.


13 Responses to “Meal to Share: South African”

  1. penny aka jeroxie
    March 31st, 2011 @ 11:07 am

    I love this dish as well. I made it awhile ago for a dinner party and it was a hit! Might have to do it again soon. So simple but the flavour is amazing.
    penny aka jeroxie recently posted..Round up – International Incident Nostalgia Party


    Agnes Reply:

    It really is – I love it as well. Can’t believe I hadn’t tried to make it at home before. It’s so good!


  2. Kayla @ Fitter Than Choc
    March 31st, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    This is really interesting. I don’t know much about South African dishes, and have not heard of any of the three dishes that you gals have made. Thanks for educating me :) I might try to adapt this and make it dairy free:)
    Kayla @ Fitter Than Choc recently posted..Broiled Cinnamon-Maple Grapefruit


    Agnes Reply:

    Oh yeah, you totally could make it diary free :) It’s a great dish and really worth making!


  3. Lisa
    March 31st, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

    Bro-in-law Ryan makes a fantastic bobotie from the curry recipe book Lin gave him a couple of Christmases ago. It’s one of the flat favourites. I will have to tell him about the yellow rice, though. Yours (both bobotie and rice) looks delicious!


    Agnes Reply:

    Oh yes, get Ryan to make the yellow rice! Not surprised that bobotie is a flat favourite – so tasty!


  4. Conor @ Hold the Beef
    March 31st, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

    Yeah, suck it up, raisin haters!

    I have seen this dish once before, at the Uni Club at my uni when they were having a South African celebration week for some reason. I thought it looked like quite an unappetising dish but now I realise that is just because they made it that way. I should have known. Yours rocks.
    Conor @ Hold the Beef recently posted..Prawnfinger


    Agnes Reply:

    Well it does kinda look unappetising. And it sounds like it should be awful! Happily appearances are deceiving :)


  5. Hannah
    April 1st, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

    Whenever I’ve seen recipes for this dish, my mind has always twanged with “meaty fruity custard whaaaat?!” You actually make it look purdy though :)

    Also, on the topic of travel photos and perusing and desperate desires to travel… let’s go somewhere together! Now! Iceland! Spain! Anywhere! BFF trip!
    Hannah recently posted..Deep Breath Now- Explaining My Recent Life Change


    Agnes Reply:

    It’s good BFF! It sounds like it should be a freaky hot mess, but it’s so, so yummy.

    Okay – let’s go! But hey, didn’t you just start full time work? ;)


  6. Susan
    April 13th, 2011 @ 10:10 am

    This looks great. I am normally not a fan of fruit in savoury dishes, except for raisins. So I think I would definitely love this!
    Susan recently posted..Claypot Chicken Rice


  7. Kristen
    April 27th, 2011 @ 5:11 am

    I cannot wait to make this! I’ve bookmarked it for later (probably next week :). My husband and I love new ethnic dishes and I don’t think I ever tried a South African one! Thanks again!
    Kristen recently posted..Black Bottom Cupcakes


    Agnes Reply:

    Hope you enjoy it! :) It’s totally delicious.


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