Bobotie, the Shepard’s Pie-like, meat, fruit, nut, milk-soaked bread, baked egg adorned, spicy, meatloafy confection introduced by the Dutch, then refined by Indonesian, Malay and Afrikaan residents, has evolved and morphed into the delicious, undisputed national dish of South Africa. Each group added its own twist and luckily for us, we got to sample a real Bobotie, made by a legitimate son of South Africa – our colleague, Gibson, who in the spirit of innovation, after consulting his mother, his father and sister, added his own special “touche” – maple syrup!
- 2 slices of bread
- ½ cups milk
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 ½ Tbsp Madras curry, ground
- ½ Tbsp cumin, ground
- ½ Tbsp turmeric, ground
- ½ Tbsp garam masala, ground
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 heaping spoons full mango chutney OR apricot jam
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 kg ground beef
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ cup dates, chopped AND/OR raisins
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- ½ tsp turmeric, ground
- Salt to taste
- 4 Bay leaves
Remove the bread crusts. Place in a bowl and pour milk on top. Set aside.
Heat oven to 375 °F.
Heat a pan on medium and allow the onions to wilt in the oil until translucent.
Incorporate the garlic and the spices. Cook another 2–3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 minutes before adding the chutney and maple syrup. Cook for 2 minutes more before adding the meat.
Mix well until the meat falls apart. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the dates and continue cooking for another 15 minutes on low heat.
Squeeze the bread and reduce to a purée. Incorporate the meat.
Place in a baking dish, approximately 12-in X 8-in. Level the surface, using a spatula.
Beat the eggs and incorporate the milk, turmeric and salt. Pour onto the meat. Place the bay leaves on top.
Bake for 30 minutes until the eggs become golden and the meat bubbles on the sides of the dish.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Making do or merely managing, requires resourcefulness and talent, both oftentimes born out of necessity and even desperation. Many South Africans – especially those once considered underprivileged, such as Indonesian Muslims, Indians, and Blacks – are de facto masters of the art of making do. Bobotie, the Shepard’s Pie like, meat, fruit, nut, jam, milk-soaked bread, baked egg adorned, spicy, meatloafy confection introduced by Dutch, Indonesian, Malay, and Afrikaners residents, has evolved and morphed into the delicious, undisputed emblematic dish of South Africa. Each group added its own twist and luckily for us, we got to sample a real Bobotie, made by a legitimate son of South Africa – our colleague, Gibson.