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"You and I" South African Bobotie {Recipe}

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If you've never had Bobotie you should add this crowd-pleaser to your holiday menu or even consider introducing it to your family as a weeknight comfort dish.

Bobotie is South Africa's national dish that consists of minced or ground beef spiced with a curry-based seasoning mix and sweet fruity ingredients then topped with a creamy egg custard. The flavor is otherworldly and balanced in a way that yields a pleasant surprise.

What Is Bobotie?

Bobotie, pronounced as BA-BOOR-TEA, is a ground beef casserole type dish similar to ground beef dishes from around the world including Greek moussaka, Irish shepherd's pie, Mexican picadillo, or even American meatloaf to a certain degree. In my humble opinion, bobotie is a few steps above due to the unique flavor profile and the creamy texture. Most bobotie includes fruit either in the form of dried fruit or jam/chutneys. Vegetables included can be potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.

At its core bobotie is an early fusion dish. Meat pies are a European thing so thanks to the colonizing Dutch you get that influence in an African-based dish. The curry and possibly fruits hint at Asian influence.

south african bobotie in rectangular pan

Beats and Eats

Bobotie si mostly a holiday dish in our house. We get the party started with it. It actually makes for a great brunch dish. Either way, it's a festive thing for us and so we need music that bumps. That's where Rick James comes in. His jam "You and I" is fun, festive, and funky AF. The apricot jam and mango chutney from that funkiness.

Ingredients Needed To Make Bobotie

Ground beef, eggs, bread, and curry seasoning mix are your core ingredients, but the others will depend on your preference.

  • White Bread
  • Milk (I used Almond)
  • Olive oil
  • Red onion
  • Curry powder
  • Turmeric
  • Dried oregano
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Garlic cloves
  • Ground beef
  • Mango chutney
  • Apricot jam
  • Canned Fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Eggs
  • Bay leaves

How To Make South African Bobotie

Depending on your cookware this could be a one-pan dish, but at most you'll need two (skillet plus baking dish).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the Bread

Place the slices of bread in a large bowl. Pour the milk over the bread and allow it to soak for 30 minutes or so. Set aside.

Brown the Ground Beef

Heat a wide skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and once hot, add the onions cooking until soft (2-3 minutes).

Add the curry powder, dried herbs, ground cumin, turmeric, and garlic cloves. Stir constantly allowing the mix to saute 1 minute until garlic has softened.

Add the ground beef to the skillet, and cook, stirring frequently to break up the beef into a more minced consistency. Once the meat is browned fully, remove the skillet from the heat. Add in the mango chutney, apricot jam, fire-roasted tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together well.

Squeeze the milk from the bread using your hands. Feel free to use gloves as this can get a little messy. Set the bread to the side, but preserve the milk that's been squeezed out. Tear the bread into small pieces then mix them into the ground beef mixture. Pour the mixture into a baking dish that's oven-proof.

Make The Egg Custard

Mix the preserved milk with another ½ cup of milk. Add some salt, pepper, and nutmeg to the milk and then beat in the eggs. Pour this directly over the ground beef mix. Layer your bay leaves on top. Bay leaves are optional.

Bake the bobotie mixture at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes.

Bobotie Recipe Notes and Considerations

Heat the spices before adding the ground beef. The heat releases the flavor in the spices intensifying the overall flavor profile.

There are plenty of quality store-brand curry mixes to use, but if you're up for it follow the recipe and make your own. I eat with all my senses, especially my eyes, and just love that orange/yellow color that turmeric adds to a dish so added quite a bit here in my bobotie recipe.

I personally am not a big fan of dried fruit in meat dishes. The texture is just a bit strange to me so I avoid it. However, raisins, apricots, and other dried fruit are common ingredients in many bobotie recipes you'll come across. I am a jam and chutney guy. Chutneys are more complex and often have a sweet heat thing going on which I'm a big fan of.

For a one-pan version use a large oven-proof skillet that has high edges. This allows you to both brown the ground beef and bake the entire bobotie in the same pan.

Chutney makes this dish shine so don't skimp on it. But a good quality one and be generous in your application of it. I'm partial to mango personally.

I like my bobotie a bit on the spicy side. For heat you can choose a good chutney that has some chili pepper heat to them. Or you can add some cayenne as an alternative.

I used almond milk to soak the bread and in the custard. Our house is dairy free-ish so I substituted. Almond milk actually works pretty well, as most bobotie recipes call for almonds.

south african bobotie in rectangular pan

Bobotie Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good optional ingredients?

Nuts are common in bobotie, particularly almonds or pine nuts. I went without nuts, but feel free to use if that's your thing. Grated or diced apples are another common ingredient. I kept the vegetables simple, but potatoes, peas, carrots, fresh herbs are all options.

Can you make bobotie ahead of time?

You can definitely make the minced curried beef ahead of time. The flavor actually comes together a bit more when given the opportunity to rest unbothered in the fridge. When ready to serve remove the bobotie from your refrigerator, allow to warm to room temperature, add the egg custard base and then bake until done.

What do you serve with bobotie?

Bobotie is often served with yellow rice. I like mine with coconut rice or just straight-up by itself. Fried plantains are also a good pairing. A good sambal olek or extra chutney also goes well with it.

I enjoy bobotie as a main dish. Additional side dish pairings beside the above could include carrots curry, roasted fennel, or green beans.

Can bobotie be frozen?

I've never frozen bobotie, but that doesn't mean you can't. People freeze lasagna all the time, and they are definitely similar to each other. Because of this, I'd argue yes you could.

Other Similar Comfort Food Recipes

Southern Meatloaf

Dutch Oven Pot Roast

Cuban Picadillo

Beef Tips and Gravy

Making This South African Bobotie Recipe

If you make this delicious and flavorful bobotie please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.

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south african bobotie in rectangular pan

South African Bobotie

Delicious South African Bobotie a curry spiced beef casserole dish seasoned w/ mango chutney, fig jam, and a creamy egg custard.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 526kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bread
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • pounds ground beef
  • ½ cup mango chutney
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam
  • 13 oz fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Bay leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the Bread

  • Place the slices of bread in a large bowl. Pour 1 cup milk over the bread and allow it to soak for 30 minutes or so. Set aside.

Brown the Ground Beef

  • Heat a wide skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and once hot, add the onions cooking until soft (2-3 minutes).
  • Add the curry powder, dried herbs, ground cumin, turmeric, and garlic cloves. Stir constantly allowing the mix to saute 1 minute until garlic has softened.
  • Add the ground beef to the skillet, and cook, stirring frequently to break up the beef into a more minced consistency. Once the meat is browned fully, remove the skillet from the heat. Add in the mango chutney, apricot jam, fire-roasted tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together well.
  • Squeeze the milk from the bread using your hands. Feel free to use gloves as this can get a little messy. Set the bread to the side, but preserve the milk that's been squeezed out. Tear the bread into small pieces then mix them into the ground beef mixture. Pour the mixture into a baking dish that's oven-proof.

Make The Egg Custard

  • Mix the preserved milk with the remaining ½ cup of milk. Add some salt, pepper, and nutmeg to the milk and then beat in the eggs. Pour this directly over the ground beef mix. Layer your bay leaves on top. Bay leaves are optional.
  • Bake the bobotie mixture at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Heat the spices before adding the ground beef. The heat releases the flavor in the spices intensifying the overall flavor profile.
There are plenty of quality store-brand curry mixes to use, but if you're up for it follow the recipe and make your own. I eat with all my senses, especially my eyes, and just love that orange/yellow color that turmeric adds to a dish so added quite a bit here in my bobotie recipe.
I personally am not a big fan of dried fruit in meat dishes. The texture is just a bit strange to me so I avoid it. However, raisins, apricots, and other dried fruit are common ingredients in many bobotie recipes you'll come across. I am a jam and chutney guy. Chutneys are more complex and often have a sweet heat thing going on which I'm a big fan of.
For a one-pan version use a large oven-proof skillet that has high edges. This allows you to both brown the ground beef and bake the entire bobotie in the same pan.
Chutney makes this dish shine so don't skimp on it. But a good quality one and be generous in your application of it. I'm partial to mango personally.
I like my bobotie a bit on the spicy side. For heat you can choose a good chutney that has some chili pepper heat to them. Or you can add some cayenne as an alternative.
I used almond milk to soak the bread and in the custard. Our house is dairy free-ish so I substituted. Almond milk actually works pretty well, as most bobotie recipes call for almonds.

Nutrition

Calories: 526kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 149mg | Sodium: 694mg | Potassium: 529mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 471IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 167mg | Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating




Veronika

Sunday 10th of October 2021

This is such a delicious and comforting recipe! I loved that it's full of flavor and my whole family loved it!

Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer

Sunday 10th of October 2021

Oh what a great and comforting recipe! This is perfect for the cooler temps! Thank you so much for sharing!

Liz

Saturday 9th of October 2021

I've never had this before, but sounds delicious!

Elaine

Saturday 9th of October 2021

Fantastic recipe to make when the guests come over. I mean, this bobotie has got all the zing to it, which is perfect!

Linda

Saturday 9th of October 2021

I enjoy trying out recipes from different countries/cultures, and this one is delicious and perfect for the whole family