Good old South African bobotie is comfort food at it best – and its warm spicy flavours and rich colour make it an especially nice autumn dish. Here’s a favourite recipe from my (Louise’s) childhood. I made it this week for my friend Russell who is visiting from the UK and it went down a treat. Having lived in England for quite a few years he’d forgotten what bobotie was – but soon remembered what home tastes like!
2 medium onions, chopped; 2 cloves of garlic, chopped; 1 level tsp of grated ginger (fresh is best); 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp oil for frying; 1 level tsp each of coriander and cumin seeds, crushed together in a pestle and mortar; 1/2 tsp cinnamon; 500g lean mince (beef or ostrich works well); 2 slices bread, crusts removed and bread soaked in 3/4 cup of milk; 1 tsp turmeric (‘borrie’); 1 level tbsp mild curry powder; 3 eggs; juice of 1/2 lemon; salt; 1/2 cup of chutney; 1/2 a packet (50g) of diced/slivered almonds; 1/2 cup sultanas/seedless raisins (or a mixture of both); 1 1/2 cups (375ml) of milk (over and above the milk you soaked the bread in), 5 or 6 lime/lemon leaves; fresh coriander leaves for garnishing.
Fry the onions, garlic and ginger in oil/butter; once softening nicely add the coriander, cumin and cinnamon and fry a little longer. Set aside, retaining some oil/butter in the pan.
Squeeze the bread dry (reserving the milk); crumble the bread and mix it into the mince. Add the turmeric and curry powder, mix thoroughly. then fry till mince starts to brown. Set aside and cool slightly.
Add the fried onion mix to the mince, as well as 1 of the eggs, beaten, plus the lemon, salt, chutney, almonds, sultanas/raisins and the milk you’d soaked the bread in. Mix everything through thoroughly and press it into a greased oven dish. Smooth out the surface and press the lime/lemon leaves flat into the mixture.
Whisk the two remaining eggs and the 1 1/2 cups of milk together; pour mixture over the bobotie.
Bake it uncovered at 180 degrees in the middle of the oven (preheated). The milk and egg mixture on top should be set and golden – about 30 to 40 minutes.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice (brown or white), veggies or salad. Don’t forget some chutney on the side.