Authentic Cape Malay Boboti

Bobotie appears to be a variant of Patinam ex lacte, a dish documented by the ancient Roman writer Apicius, layers of cooked meat, pine nuts, and seasoned with pepper, celery seeds and asafoetida. These were cooked until the flavours had blended, when a top layer of egg and milk was added. When the latter had set, the dish was ready to be served. C. Louis Leipoldt, a South African writer and gourmet, wrote that the recipe was known in Europe in the seventeenth century.

The origin of the word Bobotie is contentious. The Afrikaans etymological dictionary claims that the probable origin is the Malayan word boemboe, meaning curry spices. Others think it to have originated from bobotok, an Indonesian dish which consisted of totally different ingredients. The first recipe for bobotie appeared in a Dutch cookbook in 1609. 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. The dish has been known in the Cape of Good Hope since the 17th century, when it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork.

Authentic Cape Malay Boboti
Serves 4
Write a review
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
  1. 750 g ground beef (minced meat) or 750 g minced lamb meat
  2. oil ( for frying)
  3. 2 slices white bread, normal thickness
  4. 1/2 cup milk ( 125 ml)
  5. 1 large onions or 2 smaller onions
  6. 4 teaspoons curry powder, very mild ( Cape Malay is the best)
  7. 1 tablespoon breyani spices, generous, crushed* ( see note below)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  9. 1 tomatoes, ripe, peeled and chopped
  10. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  11. 4 dried apricot pieces diced
  12. 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  13. 1/4-1/2 cup seedless raisin
  14. 2 teaspoons salt
  15. 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  16. 1 egg
  17. 3/4 cup milk ( 200 ml)
  18. EXTRA
  19. 1 egg, plus
  20. 1/2 cup milk, and
  21. 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
  1. To make your own Breyai mix equal parts (1/2 teaspoon) of fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin, caradamom, black pepper, star anise, bay leaf, and ground cinnamon. Put in a mortar and pestle and grind until blended.
  2. Set oven at 180 deg Celsius For fan/convection ovens the heat can be 10 deg. lower.
  3. In a small bowl, tear up the slices of bread roughly, and pour over the ½ cup milk. Set aside.
  4. Peel and chop the onion. Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot. Fry the onion over medium heat until translucent.
  5. Add the curry powder, coarsely crushed breyani spices and turmeric. Stir, and let the spices fry for a few minutes. Add more oil if they stick: usually quite a bit of oil is needed.
  6. Add the chopped, peeled tomato, sugar, apricot pieces and lemon rind and stir through. Fry for a minute, then add the meat.
  7. Break up the meat so that the ground meat is loose. Add the salt. Stir often, and mix through with the spice mixture.
  8. Add the apricot jam and raisins, and stir so it melts into the meat mixture.
  9. When the meat is sort of medium done, remove the pot from the heat. Stir through and let cool a little.
  10. Take the bread which has been soaking in the milk, and break it up into wet crumbs. The bread will have absorbed all the milk. Add the milky crumbs to the meat mixture, and mix through.
  11. Break the egg in a bowl, whisk, and add the milk.
  12. Add this milk-egg mixture to the meat as well.
  13. Turn into a greased oven dish. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
  14. Whisk the last egg with the milk and enough turmeric to turn the mixture a nice yellow colour. Take the meat out of the oven, pour over the custard, and bake about 15 minutes longer, or until the egg custard has set and just turned a little brown.
  15. Serve with Yellow Rice (Begrafnisrys), a green vegetable such as broccoli, and a salad.
The Culture Cook
About Marthinus Strydom 26 Articles
I am just a guy that loves good food :) Yes, and traveling. Oh yes, and wine. Good wine. Travel with me all over the world and we'll taste and drink everything!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.