Bobotie, Megan Style

My favorite dish in South Africa was Bobotie by far. South Africa is known for taking a bunch of different cuisines and making it their own. However, there are a few dishes true to the South African culture, bobotie, bunny chow, and the Gatsby. These are all hearty dishes heavy in carbohydrates and meat to leave people (workers) feeling full if food was scare or work was demanding. Bobotie is basically a casserole with minced meat and amazing spices held together with egg. Served with saffron rice or toast. I knew I needed to make this recipe and luckily I found some help online and inspiration from my recent trip. 

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I used the BBCgoodfood recipe as a guideline to know the ratios of specific ingredients needed and which spices are futile. Ultimately I added my own spin because a) I like to add vegetables to all my dishes and 2) my goal when coming back from Africa was to be more creative when it comes to cooking. Since moving to Boston, especially when I lived in Allston and now Charlestown, there seems to be a grocery store on my way home from work and so I find myself stopping in far too often. When I’m missing one ingredient or am not in the mood for what I have at home I stop to get something. It adds up and I find myself not doing what I enjoy; cooking.

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What makes this recipe unique is the soaking of bread in water. I don’t understand it and likely never will. It’s also VERY IMPORTANT to get the curry spice paste because this will enhance the flavor tremendously. I was shocked how close my Bobotie tasted to the original.

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Now, nobody is perfect and I made a few mistakes along the way, which actually turned out delicious. First, I accidentally soaked the bread in the milk instead of water and then ran out of milk. So instead my eggs were whisked with water. I also forgot that I was halving the recipe and didn’t have enough ground beef so I threw some mushrooms in the food processor and it worked like a charm. Mushrooms are often used as a meat substitute and were a perfect texture for this dish. Lastly, although not a mistake, I added peas since I loved the touch of color that the peas added to the bunny chow and more vegetables! Another change I made to the recipe was to omit the sultana (or raisins) since I was going for the savory version of Bobotie. All in all, I am sure the original recipe is great, but I love an opportunity to put my own spin on things.

Bobotie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bread, wheat or white

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 eggs

  • 1-2 tbsp oil

  • 1# ground beef (can also use ground turkey)

  • 8 ounces cremini mushroooms

  • 2 small onions, minced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 cups green peas, frozen

  • 2 heaping tbsp curry spice paste

  • 6 bay leaves

  • allspice

  • cloves

  • pepper

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Pour 1 cup of milk into the dish that you will cook the Bobotie in (no need to wash more than needed). Add the 2 slices of bread and let soak.

  3. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and slightly browning. Then add the ground beef and cook until browned.

  4. While cooking add the mushrooms to the food processor and grind into small pieces.

  5. Mince the beef with your spoon until very small, then add the mushrooms and cook until done.

  6. Add the curry paste, a few shakes of cloves, a few shakes of allspice, and some pepper to taste. Add 2 bay leaves and let cook a bit more.

  7. While simmering, squeeze the liquid out of the bread and discard the bread. Pour the milk into the saute pan and bring to a simmer. Discard the bay leaves.

  8. Pour the Bobotie into the dish that had the milk and bread.

  9. Whisk the 2 eggs and a splash of water in a bowl until well blended. Pour over the Bobotie.

  10. Garnish with the remaining bay leaves.

  11. Baked for 45 minutes or until egg set, may still be liquid-y underneath.

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