Meat is not a thing often seen served on my dining room table, but at the request of a friend, I whipped up bobotie, a South African dish. It almost convinced me to become a meat-eater again!
Though bobotie in and of itself is superb, I think that the quality of the ingredients also are essential to this dish. My sous chef for the evening (who requested this dish) furnished us with New Zealand lamb. Though you can’t do a much to get it fresh due to the distance, I am now almost convinced that there is no other lamb worth serving.
Bobotie requires some substantial oven time, but if you are also doing appetizers and/or a soup or salad course, you can prep it and stick it in the over right before your guests arrive for a perfectly timed main course.
Prep time: 2 hours (30 minutes active)
Adapted from Rainbow Cuisine: A Culinary Journey Through South Africa
- 16-20 oz. ground lamb
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 slice of whole wheat bread
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 apple
- 1 small handful (1/4 cup) raisins or golden raisins
- 1 small handful sliced or slivered toasted almonds*
- 1 small lemon
- 2 small handfuls dried apricots
- bay leaves**
- garam masala
- freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the over to 325.
- Set a saucepan with 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil over medium heat.
- Dice the onions and finely chop the garlic and add to the saucepan.
- Let the onions and garlic fry, stirring occasionally, until the onions have become soft and translucent. When they are ready, add them to the meat mixture.
- Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray or grease it by hand with oil or butter.
- Place the raw meat in a very large mixing bowl.
- Rip the bread into small pieces and add it to the bowl with 1/2 cup of milk and 1 egg.
- Peel and chop the apple, roughly chop the apricots, and add the apples, raisins, apricots, and almonds to the mixing bowl.
- Using a microplane or very small grater, grate the lemon peel into the meat mixture and then juice half the lemon in as well.
- Sprinkle a teaspoon of garam masala, salt, and freshly ground pepper and a half teaspoon each turmeric, coriander, and cumin on top of everything.
- Using a large wooden spoon, start mixing the ingredients into the meat. Then roll up your sleeves – it’s time to get into some hand mixing!
- Wash your hands and dig into the bobotie, mixing until all ingredients are thoroughly blended (about five minutes).
- Scoop the bobotie into the prepared casserole dish and flatten the top. It should basically look like a big tray of spam, but I promise it is 10,000 times more delicious.
- Take six to eight bay leaves and bury them in the meat, evenly spaced throughout.
- Cover the dish with foil, and pop that puppy in the oven for an hour and fifteen minutes.
- Mix together a cup of milk, two eggs, and a pinch of salt to top the bobotie with later.
After the bobotie has cooked:
- Raise the over temperature to 400 degrees and take out the casserole dish.
- Remove the foil and pour the prepared topping over the meat.
- Cook for another 15 minutes and remove with the topping is firm and starting to brown.
Enjoy!Note: Make sure to use a large casserole dish. My bobotie was so juicy and had exuded so much liquid that when I went to put the egg on that we barely had any space left! *If you only have raw almonds, you can toast them on the stove by shaking or stirring continuously over medium low head in a pan. **Make sure your guests don’t eat the bay leaves. They can cause upset stomachs.