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Bobotie has many household variations but should always be prepared with good quality lean beef or lamb mince, flavoured with curry and spices and topped with a golden egg custard. The matching side dish is Yellow rice with raisins but fluffy white rice is also good. Add a green vegetable for colour and sambals like fruit chutney, diced pineapple, cucumber and nuts.  The Indonesian influence on South African cookery entered the country with the Dutch colonists who had ties with Indonesia at the time. The Indonesian word “bobotok” from which bobotie is derived, appeared in a Dutch cookery book in the year 1609. Malayans brought their culinary traditions to the country and these formed the cornerstone for certain dishes, which were perfected and adapted by each succeeding generation and can be regarded as indigenous.  Read more about South Africa’s food heritage here. Also try the Spicy Macadamia Nut & Fruit Bobotie recipe.

500 g lean beef or lamb mince
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely grated or chopped
5 ml crushed garlic
20 ml medium curry powder
5 ml hot or additional medium curry powder
2.5 ml turmeric
1 ml ground coriander
1 ml ground ginger
1 ml mixed dried herbs
pinch cayenne pepper or chilli powder
60 ml finely diced green or green and red capsicums (optional)
1 unpeeled green apple, coarsely grated
2 slices white or brown bread, crusts removed
125 ml milk
5 ml salt
5 ml baking powder
30 ml apricot jam or fruit chutney (e.g. Mrs Balls Chutney)
15 ml white vinegar
2.5 ml beef stock powder
1 large egg

Savoury egg custard topping
2 large eggs
250 ml milk
1 ml salt
6 – 8 small, fresh lemon leaves (optional)
6 – 8 coarsely chopped cashew nuts (optional)

Optional garnish
3 – 5 fresh young lemon leaves
6 – 8 cashew nuts, very lightly chopped

To serve
plain white rice or yellow rice with raisins

  1. Place the meat, onion, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, coriander, ginger, herbs and cayenne pepper or chilli powder in a saucepan and stir – fry over moderate heat for 5 minutes or until the meat is crumbly.
  2. Add the capsicum and apple and cook 5 minutes or until meat is lightly browned.
  3. Pour the milk over the bread to moisten, add to the meat together with all remaining ingredients.
  4. Mix to combine, season to taste and spoon into an ovenproof dish of a suitable size. Smooth top.
  5. Beat together the ingredients for the topping and pour over the meat.
  6. Decorate with lemon leaves if used and scatter the nuts over all.
  7. Place the dish into a pan with water to come halfway up the sides of the dish and bake at 170 º C for about 30 minutes or until the topping has set.
  8. Serve as explained above.

Serves 6


  • Prepare the meat mixture in advance and refrigerate or freeze. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator or on DEFROST in the microwave. Pour over topping and bake as explained above.
  • Bake the bobotie in individual ramekin dishes in a pan with water and serve in the ramekins or un-mould and serve on a plate with the rice (as is or moulded) and a green vegetable.

Yellow Rice With Raisins

Turmeric, widely used in Cape Malay cooking, colours and flavours the rice. Raisins add texture and sweetness while the cinnamon stick creates a mysterious aroma to the rice.

250 ml rice (white or brown)
5 ml sugar
2.5 ml salt
5 ml turmeric
15 ml butter or margarine
750 ml water
60 ml raisins
1 small cinnamon stick

  1. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to boil.
  2. Turn down the heat, cover partly and allow to simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until the rice is dry.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick, fluff lightly with a fork and serve or spoon into a suitable serving dish or divide between ramekins to mould if preferred.

Serves 6

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from Art Of Cooking page 243.