Sunday, April 25, 2010
It was in a small restaurant in Franschhoek that I had bobotie for the first time.....and I have been hooked ever since.
It wasn't all love at first sight, though. Admittedly, the bobotie is not...er...very good looking. I mean, take a look at the picture below. Or, do an image search on your search engine and look at any bobotie picture. Not quite appealing....there is nothing there that is even remotely indicative of how it tastes!
And the description - curried minced topped with an egg custard - didn't exactly tickle my taste buds.
But the taste....oh, the taste! Delicately spiced with a slightly sweet taste and delightfully aromatic, the flavour of bobotie lingered on my tongue long after I'd scraped the last morsel from my plate.
Soon, I was ordering bobotie in every single restaurant that served it.
The bobotie owes its origins to Malaysia and Indonesia. The name "bobotie" is itself derived from the Indonesian word "bobotok".
Sometime in the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company, which had several ships sailing along the spice route to Asia, established a settlement around Cape Town so that the ships, on their way to and from Holland, could dock and replenish their supplies . Initially, the ships brought just spices from Java (Indonesia). After a while, the ships also brought in the Malays - to work as slaves for the whites settled around Cape Town.
It seems that the Malays would have roast meat on Sundays; the following day, leftovers would be mixed with some spices and fruits, an egg mixture would be poured over it and it would then be baked and served with rice and vegetables.
A rather simple origin for what is today the national dish of South Africa - Bobotie.
Once we were back home, I was craving bobotie. I just had to make it! I looked up quite a few recipes on the net, the ones at Cookie Not Cheffy and Cook Sister appealed to me.
I like the ingredients in the former and the method of cooking in the latter; my version therefore is a combination of the two, with minor modifications to suit our taste. This makes a hearty meal for about 4-5 people.
Meat mince: 500 gms
Onion: 1, finely minced
Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
Ginger: 1 1/2 tsp, grated
Coriander seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cloves: 4 nos
Curry powder: 3 tsps
Turmeric: powder: 1 tsp
Raisins: 2 tbsps
Apricot chutney/sweet mango chutney/chunda: 2 tbsps
Juice of half a lemon
Green chillies: 3-4 (optional - this is not there at all in the original bobotie, but we love to spice it up!)
Salt, to taste
A slice of crustless bread soaked in 150 ml milk
Bay leaves: 8 nos
Oil: 2 tbsps
for the custard:
milk: 1 cup
pepper powder: 1 tsp
a pinch of salt
Dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and the cloves for a minute, then pound them to a coarse powder.
Heat oil and fry onion, ginger and garlic for about 2-3 mins, or till the onions turn soft.
Add the mince in 3 batches, frying after every addition so as to break up the lumps. Once the mince is evenly browned, add in the coarsely ground spices, curry powder, turmeric powder and salt. At this stage, you will notice that the mince has released some water; fry for another 7-10 minutes or till all the water has almost dried up. Turn off the gas.
Then, stir in the apricot chutney, raisins, the whole green chillies and the lemon juice.
Remember the slice of bread soaked in milk? Squeeze the milk out of the bread (retain this milk for the custard), mash the bread with your fingers or a a spoon and stir it into the mince. The bread binds the mince together and also keeps it moist.
At this point, adjust all the seasonings to your taste and transfer the mince into a baking casserole.
Beat the eggs along with salt and pepper. Add the milk to the beaten eggs - use the milk you soaked the bread in and add as much more as needed to make 1 cup - and beat again to mix the eggs and the milk well.
Pour this mixture over the mince. Arrange the bay leaves on top of the egg mixture and bake uncovered at 180 deg C for about 30-40 mins or until the egg mixture has set.
Cut into individual portions and serve with some steamed vegetables and yellow rice.
Basmati rice: 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Turmeric powder: 3/4 tsp
Bay leaves: 2 nos
Heat oil, toss in the bay leaves and the peppercorn. Wash the rice and add it to the pan; stir till coated with oil. Add the turmeric powder, a little at a time, till you get a vibrant shade of yellow.
Add the water and salt to the rice and cook on a gentle simmer for about 10-15 mins or until all the water has been absorbed. Once that happens, turn off the gas and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and let the rice sit for about 10 mins. Fluff with a fork before serving.
Because I recreated the taste of the much loved bobotie in my kitchen inspired by recipes from other blogs, this makes its way to Nupur's Blog Bites - 2: The Copycat Edition.
Coincidentally, Meeta's theme for her Monthly Mingle this month happens to be South Africa - need I say anything more?
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!