Good, Better… Bobotie!


Bobotie is considered a jewel of South-African cuisine and there are as many variations as there are household that prepare this dish. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – it is much simpler to assemble than it appears at first sight. This luxurious version balances texture, taste and richness in a way that reminds me of my grandmother’s recipe.



For the meat filling:

2 thick slices of white bread (crusts removed); when available I prefer to use brioche

1 cup fresh milk

2 onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of sunflower or canola oil

1 large clove garlic, crushed

5 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 kg minced beef (lamb is even better, or a mixture of the two)

3 tablespoons mild curry powder (Woolworths’ Cape Malay powder works well)

1 tin chopped tomatoes (approximately 1 cup)

½ cup raisins

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored and cut into small cubes

 3 tablespoons fruity chutney (Mango chutney works well)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon smooth apricot jam

50 g chopped almonds (I also like to use cashew nuts)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Zest of 2 lemons

1 large egg, beaten

¼ cup cream

4 bay leaves or lemon leaves, dipped in salt water and wiped clean

Salt and pepper to taste


For the custard topping:

1 egg, beaten

½ cup fresh cream

½ cup plain yoghurt

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰C

  2. Place the bread in a container just large enough to hold both slices, pour the milk over the bread and leave to soak for approximately 10 minutes, then mash the bread and milk with a fork until well blended.

  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until soft but not brown.

  4. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another minute or two.

  5. Add the curry powder and fry for another two to three minutes.

  6. Add the mince and fry with the onion mixture until browned, this will take approximately fifteen minutes.

  7. Stir in the apricot jam, nuts, lemon zest and juice, tomatoes, raisins, apple, Worcestershire sauce and chutney. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding the egg and the cream.

  8. Place the meat mixture in a mixing bowl and add the bread and milk mixture. Mix until the meat and bread mixtures are well-combined.

  9. Season with salt and pepper and spoon the mixture into a baking dish and smooth the top over.

  10. Neatly press the lemon or bay leaves into the mixture.

  11. To complete the topping, combine the beaten egg with the milk, yoghurt and the cream, add the turmeric and season well.

  12. Pour the savoury custard mixture over the meat in the baking dish to cover it completely.

  13. Place the dish in the oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the custard is set and the meat is hot.

  14. Serve with sambals and yellow rice (long grain rice coloured with turmeric) or a fresh seasonal salad.


© Rachel Botes, The Original Delicious