Sunday, April 25, 2010


Franschhoek is a beautiful, small and picture perfect town just a few kms away from Cape Town. In addition to being part of the South African wine country, Franschhoek is also the gourmet capital of the country; the main street that runs through the city centre is dotted with excellent and critically acclaimed restaurants on either side.

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 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:

eggs: 2
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.

Yellow Rice:

Basmati rice: 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Turmeric powder: 3/4 tsp
Peppercorns: 5-6nos
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?


  1. This is something new to me! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Very interesting post! Thanks for a great entry.

  3. Franschhoek!! You brought back memories from the time I travelled there some years back!! Beautiful country!!

  4. interesting and looks tempting!

  5. Franschhoek!!!! very lovely place dear we visited when our capetown trip such a beautiful place...bobotie is SA food tastes good n yummy,,ur's came our perfect dear..

  6. minced meat and must taste interesting..hope i get a chance to try this sometime!

  7. I was thinking of making this for the Monthly Mingle! I might have to even though you have already done it because it looks so delicious. I love the fruit in it. Really really good.

  8. Looks gorgoeus and nice post dear.. really enjoyed.

  9. I was planning to make bobotie weekend but i have completely forgotten,urs bobotie looks yummy and awesome..

  10. Nice dish, it is interesting to learn about new cuisine always

  11. This is such a new and doable recipe. Am so going to try this. :-)

  12. Hey, when did you visit Franschhoek??? Not that I was randomly standing on the side of the road at that exact moment in time or anything, but I lived across the border in Botswana for 15 years.
    And guess what, I never had Bobotie when i was actually there (the apricot jam addition always bothered me), and now I go on all these african food trawls for old times sake.
    Secondly, your pics of Bobotie are good enough to land it in first place at any Ms.Bobotie pageant....

  13. Never heard of it- interesting dish!

  14. What an interesting recipe and complex medley of flavors and spices! Would love to try this!

  15. I like your write-ups. It's refreshing to read them. :)

  16. Looks so nice and what a beautiful presentation and picture!

  17. I'm currently reading a book set in SA, and one of the characters runs a restaurant...need I say more? Delish coincidence!

    I'm enjoying your blog thoroughly.

  18. Trully sounds delectable recipe...

  19. Looks lovely..never heard about it..nice for entry!!

  20. Ya that's ok with me no prob. for


  21. This is the first time I hear of this dish. It looks very delicious and comforting, kind of like a one-meal dish!

  22. hi aquadaze
    very interesting post thanks for the sharing I did not know about that bootie !
    have a good day here it is beautiful in Paris Pierre

  23. I dont consume meat, but love ur write ups. The picture shot is really good too. Every pic is neatly taken.

  24. The perfect bobotie! You've got me hankering for some right now...

  25. Bobotie is a funny one, isn't it? As you probably saw in my post, I HATED it until I was a teenager - and now it is one of my favourite dishes! My husband likes it spicier, so I often add extra curry powder to my recipe, but the combination of spice, fruit and meat is jst delicious :) And in answer to MD, there are very good lentil boboties to be had as well - definitely worth trying :)

  26. I have seen many bobotie post recently, having posted one myself, but I love your detailed story into the origins of this delicious treat. Thank you for sharing!
    My blog celebrated Africa Day with a collection of recipes from across the continent. I would love your thoughts.


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