This has to be one of my favourite South African recipes because it brings together so many of the diverse flavours that make up the rainbow nation. It's a national dish of South Africa and their flavour packed version of a cottage pie or moussaka.
- 2 thick slices white bread, crusts removed
- 125 ml (½ cup) milk
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 2 brown onions, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp very finely chopped ginger
- 2 tbsp mild curry powder
- 60 g (¼ cup) tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Mrs Balls fruit chutney, plus extra to serve
- 4 curry leaves
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 kg beef mince (not lean)
- 60 g (⅓ cup) sultanas
- 45 g (⅓ cup) slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
- 2 eggs
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 250 ml (1 cup) full cream milk
- 5 bay leaves on the stem
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Soak the bread in milk and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large, deep ovenproof frying pan over medium heat (see note). Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder and curry leaves and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, chutney, curry leaves and vinegar and cook for 2-3 minutes to caramelize the mixture slightly. Add the mince and cook, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, for 5-6 minutes or until browned. Stir in the soaked bread and milk, breaking it up to combine, then add the sultanas and almonds.
- Add 250 ml (1 cup) water and check the seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened and reduced.
- For the topping, beat the eggs, turmeric and milk in a bowl or jug and season with salt. Remove the beef mixture from the heat, then press down on the mixture to create a flat surface. Carefully pour over the egg mixture and scatter with the bay leaves. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the topping is golden.
- Meanwhile, for the tomato salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Remove the bobotie from the oven and serve immediately, with the salsa and extra chutney.
- I used a deep skillet with a 2-2.5 litre capacity, but if you don’t have an ovenproof pan just cook the mixture in a regular pan, transfer the mince to a 2.5 litre capacity shallow casserole dish or pan and then pour over the egg mixture to bake.
Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.
Photography by Danielle Abou Karam.