Bobotie is often described as South African Moussaka.
I wanted to make a South African stew-type dish with rice similar to the dishes we ate at a B&B in JoBurg in 2007, so I searched recipes online. I found this Martha Stewart Recipe for Bobotie and I discovered it was a recipe that every South African woman (or every self-respecting South African Housewife, their words, not mine) knows how to make.
I learned from a NYTimes article that Bobotie was created as a result of the blending of Eastern and Western influences at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. The Dutch East India Company ships landed in Cape Town on their way back to Holland from Indonesia in the 17th century. The ships started bringing spices and, later, Malay-speaking slaves to work in the kitchens for the Dutch.
Bobotie Recipe ->
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (1 1/2-inch piece)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds (1 ounce), toasted
- 4 slices white bread, crusts removed
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 large eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 4 fresh or dried bay leaves
- Accompaniments, such as cilantro sprigs, lemon or lime wedges, mango chutney, sliced banana, and unsweetened coconut flakes
- Aromatic Basmati Rice with Golden Raisins, for serving – SEE recipe at bottom
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (SEE NOTE BELOW ABOUT BAKING TIME & TEMP). Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, then onions, apple, and ginger; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes. (Reduce heat if vegetables brown too quickly) Add turmeric and curry powder to onion mixture; stir to combine. Add lamb and cook, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in almonds and cook for 2 minutes more.
2. Tear bread into large pieces and place in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let stand until milk is absorbed. Add bread mixture to lamb, and cook, stirring frequently, until bottom of pan begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in apricot preserves and lemon juice, scraping up browned bits from bottom. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Spoon lamb into a 6-cup shallow baking dish. Whisk eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest, and remaining 1 1/2 cups milk in a medium bowl. Pour over lamb. Place bay leaves in dish, pressing into filling. Bake until set around edges and center is no longer runny, 35 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with desired accompaniments and rice.
* NOTE ON BAKING TIME: We had to bake this much longer to be cooked through – at least 1 hour and then some in a 9×13 dish @ 325F. Some Bobotie recipes even say to bake at 350F for 1 hour. Then add more egg topping (whisk together the reserved milk, egg, and a pinch of salt) and pour over top of the dish. Lay the bay leaf onto the top of the milk mixture. and then return to the bobotie to the oven until the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Basmati Rice with Golden Raisins Recipe
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 crushed green cardamom pod
- 2/3 cup golden raisins
- 2 cups water
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Melt butter in a medium high-sided saucepan set over medium heat. Add onion and cook until onion becomes translucent.
- Place rice in sieve, and rinse under cold running water. Add rice to saucepan, and stir so grains are coated with butter mixture.
- Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom pod, and raisins to saucepan; season with salt. Stir in 2 cups water. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until all water has been absorbed and rice is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat, and let stand, covered, 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pod; discard. Season with salt and pepper and serve.