This layered oven-baked dish is a reflection of the histories, cultures, and cuisines that flavour the peninsula of Cape Town. The roots of the spices used in traditional recipes come from Cape Malay cuisine but is easy to make your own Bobotie-inspired dish with the flavours and ingredients in your own kitchen, celebrating the truth of cultural-pluralism in our food language.
The meditative quality that cooking can give when we take the time and patience with real foods and combine their chemistry is a unifying cultural practice. Food speaks a unifying language. Everything takes time to communicate. Bobotie speaks a Cape Malay history, a strong culture alive in South African food and community combining the diversity and strength fully reflected in the flavours of the dishes served spicy hot in neighborhoods all around Cape Town.
2 slices of hearty bread
1/2 c. milk
1 cup of cooked rice/wild rice/lentil mix
1 chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
half grated carrot
half grated apple
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 TB mild yellow curry powder
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 half teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cinnamon
handful of raisins
2 heaping spoonfuls of smooth apricot jam
pinch paprika and tumeric
salt and pepper to taste
oil to coat the dish
2 TB yoghurt
Soak the bread in milk and 1 tsp ginger. Fry the garlic, onion and left over grated ginger in oil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add carrots and fry until softened. Mix in the curry powder and garam masala. Add all other ingredients in the pan and fry together until well mixed and distributed. In an oven dish line the bottom with the soaked bread. Layer the ingredients in the pan on top. Beat 1 egg and yoghurt with a pinch of paprika and turmeric and pour on top. Bake until golden brown on top at 180 C.
Tip 1: Spices don’t last forever. There are lots of theories on how to maintain their freshness but one that does not fail is to just use them. Experiment and trust your intuition. Don’t be afraid, especially in a dish like bobotie known for combining wonderful spices. Entertain yourself with spice alchemy and put that spice cupboard to work.
Tip 2: Substitute the rice mix with mashed chickpeas, white beans, or mince. If you have random beans or grains in your cupboard like millet, buckwheat or quinoa, be bold and mix them together and create a complex grain mix. Just be mindful that each grain may have different cooking times so add them to the water accordingly.
Tip 3: Clean out your lingering grains in your cupboard by making a mix that amounts to what is needed. Give the 3 TB of brown rice and 1/2 c. white rice and some red lentils some freedom and speak your own dialect of bobotie.
Tip 4: Leftover bobotie? Slice brie and place on top of the bobotie. Pour apricot jam over the top and bake in your oven over high heat. Bake brie on anything if you have to eat leftovers and you won’t look at leftovers the same.