Bobotie – a South African traditional dish.

Bobotie – a South African traditional dish.

(Well, this is the veggie version…. The SA version uses six cows and a goat!)

(A bit like a light curry with an omelette on top……)

No self-respecting South African household/family does not own (and treasure!) a favourite Bobotie recipe. (not normally the veggie one though).

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins       

Course:        Main

Serves:        6

Rating:         2: Easy, but there’s a bit of messin’ about.


Vegetarian Bobotie – Ingredients

  • half a cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp mild paprika.
  • 100g/3½oz macadamia nuts (unsalted peanuts can also be used)
  • 50g/2oz blanched almonds
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped – or just use milled dried chilli seeds…. with caution!
  • 2.5cm/1in fresh ginger, peeled and chopped, or grated finely
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 tsp spice mix or curry powder, or a big dollop of tikka masala paste from a jar
  • 2 slices of white bread soaked in 100ml/5Fl oz milk
  • 100g/4oz ready-to-eat dried apricots, quartered
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • 4 bay leaves or the zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 150ml/5fl oz milk, plain yoghurt, or sour cream
  • 2 eggs


  • Gently fry all the spices in a dry frying pan over a low heat until the cumin seeds start to spit and they smell toasted and fragrant. Grind the spices together in a spice or coffee grinder until you have a fine powder.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  • Place the macadamia nuts and the almonds on a baking tray in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  • Once the nuts have cooled slightly, roughly chop them; not too small.
  • Fry the onions over a low to medium heat in the oil and butter for 5-10 minutes, or until they are translucent but not coloured up too much.
  • Add the garlic, chillies, ginger, carrots and curry powder, and cook, stirring all the time for another two minutes. Add the soaked bread and milk, stirring well so that the bread is broken down and evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  • Stir in the toasted nuts and the apricots, then add the lemon juice.
  • Season the mixture to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Put the revolting-looking mixture into a baking dish, smooth it out (trying not to wonder what the hell it looks like) and stand the leaves in it so that they can be removed later. If you’re using lemon zest then just scatter it over the mixture.
  • Bake for 5-10 minutes while you make the topping.
  • Beat egg with remaining milk and pour over mixture approximately 25 – 30 minutes before end of baking time.
  • Serve with steamed rice (traditionally turmeric yellow) and extra chutney.

South African comfort food!

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