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Bobotie - South Africa’s unofficial national dish

Updated: Jan 26

When I first was offered this dish as a kid in Queensland by my very exotic African neighbours I thought they were weird. I mean, who puts coconut, tomatoes, apricots, banana, nuts, chutney with mince? Then I tucked in... well, I was an immediate fan and have enjoyed making it and sharing it with others converting them to it.

Where did this dish come from? Wikipedia suggests that the first recipe for bobotie appeared in a Dutch cookbook in 1609. It then made its way to South Africa and was adopted by the Cape Malay community - they are most likely to have introduced curry as an additional ingredient. One theory of the origin of the name is that it is derived from the Indonesian word "bobotok", indicating that the recipe has its roots in the Dutch East Indian Company colonies in Batavia.

Regardless of its history, it is delicious! How do you eat it? I like to put it in a bowl with the rice on the bottom, then the mince and all the other toppings after that. Then I "smoosh" it around so all the flavours combine.

If you are lucky enough to have leftovers try it for a hearty breakfast warmed up in a frying pan on crusty white toast with Avocado and topped with a fried egg and some more chutney. Or for lunch try it in a wrap with tomato and cucumber and chutney, of course.


  • Oil

  • 1 onion

  • 500g lamb or beef mince

  • 2 cloves of garlic or 2 teaspoons of minced garlic

  • 3 teaspoons of curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon of minced chilli (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 2 slices of bread crumbled

  • 30ml milk

  • Salt and pepper to season

  • Zest of 1 small lemon (optional)

  • 1 egg

  • 1 green apple, red is also fine (optional)

  • 1 carrot (optional)

  • 2 handfuls of sultanas

  • 2 handfuls of dried apricots diced

  • 2 handfuls of slivered almonds

  • 2 handfuls of desiccated coconut

  • 3 bay leaves

  • Diced tomatoes and onion to serve to serve on the side

  • Mrs Balls Chutney and extra coconut to serve on the side

  • Sliced banana to serve on the side

  • Rice to serve on the side

  • For the custard, 1 egg or 2 eggs, 1/3 cup of milk and salt


  • Brown the onion diced up in oil

  • Add the mince and fry until lightly sealed

  • Stir in garlic, chilli, turmeric and curry powder and season with salt and pepper

  • Cook on very low heat covered for about 30 mins

  • Mix together bread, milk, lemon zest, coconut, sultanas, apricots, apple, carrot and almonds and mix in the mince

  • Transfer the mix to a casserole dish or baking dish and pat the top nice and flat

  • Bury the bay leaves in the mix

  • Cover with foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes until the babotie is firm and well cooked

  • Mix up the custard ingredients and pour on the top and bake uncovered for about 15 mins or until the top is set and lightly browned

  • Serve with the sides as indicated above and pull out the bay leaves as you find them as you serve up

Serves 4

Try not to eat it all at once!

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