Bobotie is a very old South African dish with probable origins in Indonesia or Malaysia. The name derives from the Indonesian “bobotok,” and the dish was likely adapted by Dutch traders and brought back to the region around Cape Town.
Somewhat of a national dish, every South African cook has his or her own favorite version, some very simple, others quite elaborate.
The great thing about this dish is that it is really just a one pot dish (apart from preparation).
Oil — 2 or 3 tablespoons
Onions, thinly sliced — 2
Ground beef — 2 pounds
White bread, crust removed and cut into cubes — 2 or 3 slices
Milk — 1 cup
Vinegar or lemon juice — 1/4 cup
Raisins — 1/2 cup
Sugar — 2 tablespoons
Curry powder — 1 or 2 tablespoons
Turmeric — 1 teaspoons
Salt and pepper — to season
Bay leaves — 5
Eggs, beaten — 2
Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat ( a flat bottomed Dutch oven is best but I have a three footed Dutch oven and to get the heat I remove the metal plate to get more heat into the Dutch oven.
Add the onions and saute until translucent and just starting to brown. Add the minced lamb and break it up while sauteing until cooked through and crumbly.
Remove from heat, drain off and discard any excess fat.
Put the bread and milk in a bowl and soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bread and squeeze it dry, adding the squeezed milk back into the soaking bowl.
Add the soaked bread, vinegar or lemon juice, raisins, sugar, curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper to the bowl with the cooked meat and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings.
The meat should have a pleasantly sweet-sour flavor.
Pour the meat mixture back into the Dutch oven and smooth out the top. Lay the bay leaves over the meat in a decorative pattern and press down lightly to make them stick.
Place the dutch oven back onto the frontier stove or over the fire and place the lid onto the Dutch oven and add some coals onto the lid.
Beat the eggs with the reserved bread-soaking milk. After the meat has baked for 30 minutes, pour the egg-milk mixture over the top of the meat and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the custard is set.
This recipe is best served with yellow rice.