Friday, February 15, 2008


Probably 30 years ago I saved a recipe for Bobotie, after reading it in some magazine. It sounded so unusual - a ground meat dish (a casserole, actually, like a meatloaf) with some raisins and almonds, plus some curry powder, then topped with a kind of eggy custard. I'd never made it. Until the other night. I've had it served to me - some friends of ours are from South Africa - and they entertained us one night and served their version. This has been a couple of years ago, but I believe it was served with rice, chutney and some other condiments. I really enjoyed it. This version resembles a recipe I found in Gourmet, but I made several changes based on the other recipes I had to refer to.

I knew it was an African-historied dish, but here's more, from Wikipedia:

  • Bobotie is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. The recipe probably originates from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian Bobotok. It is also made with curry powder leaving it with a slight "tang".
  • It is a dish of some antiquity: it has certainly been known in the Cape of Good Hope since the 17th century, when it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork. Today it is much more likely to be made with beef or lamb, although pork lends the dish extra moistness. Early recipes incorporated ginger, marjoram and lemon rind; the introduction of curry powder has simplified the recipe somewhat but the basic concept remains the same. Some recipes also call for chopped onions to be added to the mixture. Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruit like raisins or sultanas, but the sweetness that they lend is not to everybody's taste. It is often garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas.

Cook's Notes: If you enjoy curry, you might want to add more. Be sure to serve this with rice (it's customary) and some condiments, preferably some chutney. The apple isn't always included - your choice. Make certain the onion and apple are minced up finely so the meatloaf will be cohesive. The lemon leaves are not a requirement, but they must be traditional in South Africa. I didn't have any bananas, but they appear in several recipes for Bobotie.

Recipe: Loosely based on a Gourmet recipe.
Servings : 5
1 slice bread -- fresh, chopped finely
1/3 cup milk
1 medium onion -- thinly sliced in rings
1/2 small Granny Smith apple -- peeled, cored, finely chopped, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons raisins -- minced
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder -- preferably Madras
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 pound ground beef -- or lamb, not lean
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon black pepper -- freshly ground
3 whole lemon leaves
1. Make sure bread crumbs are very small. Remove crusts, then cut and chop, if necessary. Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl until very soft, about 15 minutes, then drain by squeezing lightly, pressing to remove excess milk. Save milk.
2. Preheat oven to 350 and set rack in the middle. Butter a baking dish - flatter is better than taller.
3. Place sliced onions in a small frying pan with about 2 T. of water and simmer until onions are moderately limp. Pour off water, then pour out onto a cutting board and MINCE onions until they're diced. In same frying pan melt butter and add diced apple and onions. Saute until both onions and apples are fully cooked, but not longer. Set aside to cool while you prepare the meat.
4. In a large bowl combine the ground meat, raisins, almonds, salt, curry powder, lemon zest, sugar and one egg. Then add the bread cubes and the onions/apple mixture and gently combine. Add the lemon juice sprinkled all over the meat. Place meat mixture in pan and pat down just so it reaches corners. (It's preferable if the meat is not totally mashed flat - some peaks and valleys are good.) Roll lemon leaves into long cylinders and stick each into the meatloaf, standing upright.
5. Bake meatloaf for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour off any liquid/fat from the pan.
6. Just before the end of the baking time, combine the remaining milk and the remaining egg. Sprinkle with a dash of salt. Mix until thoroughly combined, then pour over the meatloaf. Return to oven and continue baking for another 15 minutes until the custard is set.
Per Serving: 426 Calories; 33g Fat (68.4% calories from fat); 20g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 174mg Cholesterol; 341mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 5 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
Printer-friendly recipe, click title at top.

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