Bobotie from the Cape

Author: Marthinus Strydom
Category: Beef
Serves/Qty: 4.00
Heidi Strydom

The national dish of South Africa is a delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit with a creamy golden topping. Unbeatable flavors!

Marthinus Strydom

Pairs well with
Biryani Spices

The Story

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.

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For the bobotie
750 g ground beef
oil (for frying)
2 slices white bread, normal thickness
½ cup (24 Teaspoons) milk
2 onions
4 tsp mild curry powder (cape malay is the best)
1 tbsp (3 Teaspoons) biryani spices
½ tsp turmeric
1 tomato, ripe, peeled and chopped
½ tsp sugar
1 apple, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tbsp (3 Teaspoons) finely grated lemon rind
¼ cup (12 Teaspoons) seedless raisin
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp (6 Teaspoons) apricot jam
1 egg
¾ cup (36 Teaspoons) milk
16 whole raw almonds
For the topping
1 bay leaf
½ cup (24 Teaspoons) milk
1 egg


  1. Set oven at 180 deg Celsius.
  2. In a small bowl, tear up the slices of bread roughly, and pour over the milk. Set aside.
  3. Peel and chop the onion. Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot. Fry the onion over medium heat until translucent.
  4. Add the curry powder, coarsely crushed biryani spices and turmeric. Stir, and let the spices fry for a few minutes. Add more oil if they stick.
  5. Add the chopped, peeled tomato, sugar, grated apple and lemon rind and stir through. Fry for a minute, then add the meat.
  6. Break up the meat so that the ground meat is loose. Add the salt. Stir often, and mix through with the spice mixture.
  7. Add the apricot jam, and stir so it melts into the meat mixture. Add the raisins.
  8. When the meat is sort of medium done, remove the pot from the heat. Stir through and let cool a little.
  9. 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.
  10. Break the egg in a bowl, whisk, and add the milk. Add this milk-egg mixture to the meat as well.
  11. Turn into a greased oven dish, and stud with almonds on top. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
  12. 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 until the top is browned.
  13. Serve with Yellow Rice, a green vegetable such as broccoli, and a salad.

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