Bobotie – South Africa

September 15, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Posted in baking, Food, grilling | Leave a comment
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Bobotie (pronounced /bɒˈboʊti/) is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. The recipe is likely to have originated from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian Bobotok. Afterwards, it was taken to South Africa and adopted by the Cape Malay community. It is also made with curry powder leaving it with a slight “tang”. It is often served with Sambal.

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.

Although not particularly spicy, the dish incorporates a variety of flavours that can add complexity. For example, the dried fruit (usually apricots and raisins/sultanas) contrasts the curry flavouring very nicely. The texture of the dish is also complex, with the baked egg mixture topping complementing the milk-soaked bread which adds moisture to the dish.

The Bobotie recipe was transported by South African settlers to colonies all over Africa. Today, recipes for it can be found that originated in white settler communities in Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. There is a variation that was popular among the 7,000 Boer settlers who settled in the Chubut River Valley in Argentina in the early 20th century, in which the bobotie mixture is packed inside a large pumpkin, which is then baked until tender.

Bobotie

Ingredients

* Oil — 2-3 tablespoons
* Onions, thinly sliced — 2
* Ground beef — 2 pounds
* White bread, crust removed and cut into cubes — 2-3 slices
* Milk — 1 cup
* Vinegar or lemon juice — 1/4 cup
* Raisins — 1/2 cup
* Sugar — 2 tablespoons
* Curry powder — 1-2 tablespoons
* Turmeric — 1 teaspoons
* Salt and pepper — to season
* Bay leaves — 5
* Eggs, beaten — 2

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the onions and sauté until translucent and just starting to brown. Add the ground beef and break it up while sautéing until cooked through and crumbly. Remove from heat, drain of any excess fat and place in a large bowl.
2. Put the bread and milk in a bowl and soak for 5-10 minutes. Remove the bread and squeeze it dry, adding squeezed milk back into the bowl.
3. 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.
4. 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. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
5. 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 15-20 minutes, or until the custard is set and lightly browned.
6. Remove from the oven and serve hot with geelrys and mango chutney.

Variations

* 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.

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