Beef Bobotie Recipe

Bobotie, spiced mince baked with savoury custard, from South Africa
Hugh Johnson/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
  • 75 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 65 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Ratings (5)

Bobotie has been recognized as South Africa's national dish. With influences introduced by the spices of Cape Malay cooking, the medieval culinary practices of the Dutch settlers to the indigenous practices of rearing and eating beef, it is no wonder that this melting pot is the rainbow nations' national dish.​

There are many ways of making bobotie and a vast variety of recipes can be found on the net that at times it is difficult to tell which is the most authentic bobotie. A traditional bobotie is said to have 6 key elements which influences the flavour, cooking technique and consistency. These are curry spice, cinnamon, jam, raisins, bread soaked in milk and bay leaves. The result should be a balance between spicy and sweet, however the sweetness should never overpower the dish.

Some people have described it as a type of meatloaf, or a dish not dissimilar to moussaka. The consistency of the bobotie varies from being a stiff meatloaf type of result to a more softer mincemeat sauce type of consistency. Traditionally, it is a meat dish made with minced beef, lamb or even ostrich. As people's preferences for specialised diets have grown, there are also vegetarian and vegan alternatives for this dish. It is custom to serve bobotie with a spicy yellow rice, but any type of plain rice or a mildly seasoned pilau rice will go very well with bobotie.

What You'll Need

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 600g mince beef
  • 2 tbsp Mrs balls chutney
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 2 slices white crustless bread soaked in milk
  • 1 egg
  • 125 ml milk (1/2 a cup)
  • 2 tbsp double cream (optional)
  • 1 level tsp turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees centigrade.

2. Fry the onions, garlic and ginger in the butter until soft and golden brown. Add the spices, the mince, vinegar, Worcester sauce and stock cube. When the mince has browned, add the pre-soaked bread and work into the mixture.

3. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and bake, covered, in the oven for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the egg, milk and turmeric to make the savoury custard mix.

Add cream for an extra rich custard topping. Season with a little salt and pepper. Remove the mince mixture from the oven, uncover, then pour the egg mix over. Arrange th bay leaves on top then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.

The bay leaves should be fragrant and the surface of the custard, golden brown. Serve with rice.