The oldest known bobotie (curried minced meal) recipe originated with Apicius, who cooked for the wealthy during the reign of the Roman Empire. This sweet-and-sour dish was baked with the characteristic egg custard on the top and meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices were added to the recipe.
The first bobotie made at the Cape probably followed the old Roman recipe due to a shortage of meat, fish, and vegetables. Fortunately the abundance of sea birds provided a steady supply of eggs. When meat become more readily available later on, bobotie was prepared with only meat (always cooked), nuts and, sometimes, dried fruit. A fish bobotie was also made, and the egg custard was used over vegetable dishes, as is still the custom in the Balkans today.
Chardonnay would be a great choice with this dish, but if this weekend you would prefer a glass of red to warm you up, the 2017 La Motte Millennium would be a very good partner as well.
Try this recipe from our Cape Winelands Cuisine Cookbook, page. 85.
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped
1 kg cooked and minced mutton or beef *
1 thick slice bread
1 cup (250 ml) beef or mutton stock
1 cup (250 ml) milk
2 ½ Tbsp (37.5 ml) curry mix
1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
¼ cup (60 ml) apricot jam
2 tsp (10 ml) salt (less if meat was already salted when cooked)
¼ tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp (45 ml) wine vinegar
½ cup (125 ml) seedless raisins
1 Tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh root ginger, or more to taste
1 pkt (100 g) blanched and ground almonds
3 fresh lemons or bay leaves
1½ cups (375 ml) milk
Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F) and grease an ovenproof dish.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions until cooked and slightly browned. Add the meat.
Soak the bread in the meat stock, and then mash with a fork. Whisk the egg and milk together and add to the bread. Add this to the meat and onion mixture and bring slowly to boiling point.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together and add to the meat mixture.
Ladle the meat into the ovenproof dish. Smooth the top neatly so that when you pour the egg custard on top it can distribute evenly. (At this stage the meat can be frozen, if using a freezer-safe dish. Defrost in a medium oven, before pouring over the custard.)
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven. Roll the lemon or bay leaves into cone shapes and press into the meat mixture. Beat the egg and milk together, pour over the bobotie and place the dish back into the oven. Bake until the custard is set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Serve with rice and sambals.
* The traditional recipe given below calls for cooked meat, as cooks used to do in days gone by. Today the 1 kg cooked meat can be substituted with 1.3 kg raw mutton of beef mince, This will, however, change the sequence in the method of the recipe. If using raw mince, fry the onions, add the spices and sauté for 3 minutes, and then add the mince with the rest of the ingredients.