Bobotie (South African savoury mince bake)

This intriguing dish is often said to be one of South Africa’s national dishes. Bobotie combines flavours that at first seem… well… just wrong. But, when cooked, this initial feeling of trepidation gives way to a feeling that you are eating something wonderfully old-fashioned and delicious.

Ingredients:

2 slices white bread
500ml (2 cups) milk
1 tablespoon light olive oil
2 brown onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1kg minced (ground) beef
4 tablespoons madras curry powder
85g (½ cup) raisins
2 tablespoons fruit chutney
2 tablespoons apricot jam
8 bay leaves
2 eggs

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Put the bread in a bowl with the milk and soak for a couple of minutes. Remove the bread and squeeze out the excess milk. Set the soaked bread aside and reserve the milk.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and stir-fry for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the beef and stir-fry for 8-10 minutes, until browned, using a wooden spoon to break up the mince into small pieces.

4. Stir in the curry powder, raisins, chutney, jam and 4 bay leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the spices in the curry powder are aromatic.

5. Add the soaked bread, stir to combine, and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish.

6. Measure 250ml (1 cup) of the reserved milk into a bowl. Beat the eggs into the milk and pour over the beef mixture.

7. Arrange the remaining bay leaves over the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the custard mixture has set to a golden brown. Serve with sliced banana tossed in shredded coconut.

Tips:

Minced (ground) beef is traditionally used for this recipe, but I think pork would be right at home with all the sweet and spicy flavours going on.

This is an edited extract from Tuck In: Good Hearty Food Any Time by Ross Dobson, Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99.

Photo credit: Steve Brown