This is one of the many traditional/national dishes of South Africa. It tips its hat to various different cultural roots, particularly the Cape Malays.

Even though I was born and raised in South Africa, I never prepared bobotie myself in all the years I lived there. Of course I had eaten it. Often. But, it was only when we moved to the UK, that I started making this dish to serve to guests. I liked the idea of introducing them to a new taste. It quickly became a signature dish of mine, and is much talked about.

Inviting people to your home for a meal is far less a part of British culture than South African, and we were considered fairly hospitable even by South African standards. So you can imagine that we are downright unusual around these parts.

Credit for this recipe must go to Ina de Villiers, the author of one of South Africa’s best known Afrikaans cookbooks, Kook and Geniet (available in English as Cook and Enjoy It). Since Ina died in September last year, it seems fitting to include one of her recipes early on in this blog.

1 onion, thinly sliced
A little cooking oil (if necessary)
800g lean minced beef
1 thick slice bread (any type), crusts removed
250ml milk
2 eggs
15ml medium strength curry powder
15ml sugar
5ml salt
Pepper to taste (black or white)
5-10ml turmeric
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
60ml flaked almonds
125ml seedless raisins
4 bay or lemon leaves
45ml chutney

Oven temperature


  • Fry onions and mince together in cooking oil (if using) until just done
  • Soak the bread in the milk. Then squeeze the milk out and mash the bread. Set the milk aside
  • Mix together all the ingredients, except 125m milk, 1 egg, almonds and the bay/lemon leaves
  • Press the mixture into an ovenproof dish. Insert the leaves, upright and evenly spaced, into the meat mixture
  • Cover with tin foil (or a lid, if your dish has one) and bake for about 20 minutes
  • Beat the remaining egg together with the 125ml milk you set aside earlier. Pour over the meat mixture. Sprinkle with flaked almonds
  • Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until the egg ‘custard’ has set

Serve with…
Rice (ideally, South African yellow rice)
Green beans
Steamed or glazed pumpkin/butternut squash

Make sure there is chutney on the table, too – no self-respecting South African would eat bobotie without it!

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