15 Dec

On Saturday, as part of my very successfully Christmasy advent activity roster, I went ice skating at the stuffy Denver Country Club for Joe’s company’s Christmas party. During a rip roaring raucous game of broom ball, I fell backward onto my right wrist. Did I forget to mention that I’m not the best skater? The only way I know how to stop is to run into the rink wall. I really had no business trying to play a game on the ice with some rather skilled skaters… In any case, using a knife to chop anything harder than an onion is pretty much horrible. Enter bobotie. Like the best meatloafy dish known to man, and which also includes minimal chopping. It’s an iconic South African dish that is served with this glorious chutney that I kind of cooked to a hard candy because I decided I wanted to take a bath and may or may not have completely forgotten that I was reducing the sauce on the stove top.
I don’t know much at all about South African food. I knew one guy from South Africa and I thought he was the worst person ever. But I like bobotie, so my thoughts on the country are turning a little. Not only is it a curry-spiced hunk of ground meat studded with dried fruit, but it’s topped with an egg custard. If you aren’t as poor as me, you will make this out of lamb. Or even a mixture of beef and lamb. Usually I seem to be able to find ground lamb on sale at my grocery store – the this-is-about-to-go-bad kind of sale. But there was none of that when I went shopping for this. I did get grass-fed ground beef for $3.97/lb. Thought that was decent. This will be so so so so so good with lamb. I love lamb. (PS please get me a microplane for Christmas, thanks God. And Tebow.)
This blog post is getting a little tiresome already, since typing is rather a chore with a bruised and banged up wrist that intensely dislikes being rotated inward to type on the keyboard. And since I intensely dislike trying to type with one hand, I’m overriding my wrist just enough to get this post out. There aren’t going to be more stories of my advent activities (and oh they’ve been fun! cookies! Christmas karaoke! homemade candles!) or some history of bobotie (which Lion keeps trying to suggest as “bootie” and makes me laugh every time). So here goes…
adapted from Rainbow Cuisine: A Culinary Journey Through South Africa by Lannice Snyman, serves 6-8

1 tablespoon butter, plus more for greasing
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 lbs ground lamb or beef, or a mixture of the two
1/4 cup whole milk
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces dried apricots, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 ounces chopped or slivered roasted almonds
6 lemon, orange, or bay leaves (if you can’t find fresh, use dried bay leaves)

1 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9×13 casserole.

2. Heat butter and oil in a medium saucepan and sauté until the onion is translucent. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric, and cook briefly until fragrant. Remove the pot from heat and mix in the ground meat.

3. In a small bowl, mix together milk, lemon zest and juice, egg, salt, pepper, apricots, apple, golden raisins, and almonds. Add to the meat mixture and and mix in.

4. Add contents of the saucepan into your prepared casserole. Roll up the leaves, or not, if they’re dried bay leaves, and bury them at regular intervals. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/4 hours.

5. Increase heat to 400 degrees. Thoroughly whisk together the topping milk, eggs, and salt, and pour over the casserole. Bake uncovered for 15 more minutes until the custard is cooked and lightly browned.

If you want to serve this with the chutney, here is the recipe. It’s called blatjang.

2 ounces dried apricots, chopped
2 ounces golden raisins
3 cups wine or cider vinegar
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 pound honey
1 1/2 ounces chopped almonds
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
1/2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoons chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat, over medium heat, until liquid is reduced to about 1/3. Stir frequently toward the end.

The recipe I got this from was more involved – calling for overnight soaking of the fruit, etc. I think the easy way is probably just fine. I’m sorry if I’m greatly wrong… I mean, I don’t really know what I would have created, had I not made candy.


11 Responses to “bobotie”

  1. She cooks...He cleans December 16, 2011 at 09:23 #

    This sounds so, so delicious! I wish some bobotie would appear magically on my desk now – meat, curry, apricots and raisins, nuts, AND custard – I love this combination of flavors. Thanks for sharing! I’m going to go thaw some meat, because this looks like dinner tonight! ~Nancy
    p.s. sorry about your ouchy wrist!

    • Julie December 16, 2011 at 11:09 #

      It’s disappeared. It took less than 2 days to be devoured by 2 people. I wish there was more so that it would appear on my desk, too!

      Wrist update: I went to the doctor after being scared into doing so by friends and coworkers, and it’s definitely not broken, so that’s good! $500 snowboarding pass was not for naught!

  2. Alex December 16, 2011 at 20:09 #

    Oh my gosh, this sure does sound fantastic…I think I definitely have to find some time to make this–pronto!!

    • Julie December 18, 2011 at 10:24 #

      Yes, it is, and you do! And it’s not too time consuming!

  3. ellie ku (@ellie__luv) May 5, 2012 at 20:51 #

    Hi, made it, loved it! Really good recipe 🙂

  4. Rene Wright December 16, 2013 at 02:20 #

    Love your Bobotie recipe!! Sorry your experience with one South African guy was a bad one!! We’re actually very nice people, even though some men come across a bit arrogant! Hope you’ve had contact with more South Africans (SAFFAS) and hope you will be able to visit SA one day – it’s a beautiful country. Thanks for sharing your recipe!


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