As my bobotie is cooking in the oven, I am writing this post and reminiscing upon my trip to South Africa, flicking through my photo album. I remember the hot weeks in Cape Town, my day trip to Groot Constantia vineyard, and that delicious bobotie…
The first time a laid my fork in a bobotie was in Scotland when I was working as a chef in a remote, 1 Michelin Star restaurant in Isle of Skye (to think of it, why do I always end up living in these rainy, windy islands with more sheep than people around me?). My colleague and friend Jeanette was from Karoo, in South Africa, and in her opinion, bobotie was a South African equivalent for the “makaroonilaatikko” (macaroni casserole) I had prepared for the staff the day before. But instead of macaroni and mince, bobotie has white bread, chutney, Madras paste, raisins and other fruits, such as apple or banana, in it. So to me bobotie is nothing like macaroni casserole. In any case, both are easy and delicious dishes to make for a cosy night in.
Bobotie arrived in Western Cape most likely from Indonesia with the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century, and has been a part of Cape Malay culinary tradition ever since. The Cape Malays settled in Cape Town in an area known as Bo-Kaap. The area’s cobblestone streets are lined with bright and colourful little houses, and apart from a mosque dating to 1844, you can find one of South Africa’s trendiest coffee shops, Haas Collective, from Bo-Kaap. In general, the culinary scene in Cape Town is amazingly versatile: the area has belonged to a few imperialistic, maritime country during the past few centuries, and this mixture of nationalities has brought an interesting mix of flavours into the city’s kitchens.
Besides Jeanette’s bobotie in Skye, I enjoyed one of the best boboties in my life in South Africa’s oldest vineyard, and its restaurant Jonkershuis, which is known for its Malaysian flavours. And even though bobotie is a perfect dish to be enjoyed under a hot sun, it will give cosy warmth for your body and soul on the northern side of the globe as well.
So here you go, a little portion of bobotie for 4 people:
1 dl milk
1 slice of white bread (basic toast is perfect)
1 clove of garlic
480g organic mince
1 tbs Madras curry powder
1 tbs Mango chutney
1 tsp dried herbs
3 tbs raisins, dried berries or fruit
half an apple
3 bay leaves
salt, and plentiful of black pepper
1,5 dl milk
Preheat the oven.
Place the bread in a dish and pour the milk over it. Leave to soak.
Cut the onion and fry in butter stirring occasionally until the onion starts to soften and gets a little bit of brownish colour on it. Add the garlic and mince. Crumble the mince while it is cooking into as little pieces as possible.
When the mince is done, add the rest of the ingredients and spices apart from 2 bay leaves. Leave for 15 mins so that the flavours intensify a little.
Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and mix well with the mince.
Mix the milk and egg in a bowl.
Press the mince into a greased oven proof dish (c. 15 cm Ø) and pour the milk-egg mixture on top of it.
Place the 2 bay leaves on top of your bobotie, and cook in the oven 30-40 minutes, or until the milk-egg mix has cooked and starts to get golden brownish colour.
Usually Bobotie is served with rice or chutney but I favour plum tomatoes and spinach leaves drizzled with olive oil to lighten up and freshen the flavours.