Trust me to take a traditional recipe and turn it on its head. Apologies, South Africa, for what I’ve done with one of your national dishes. I tried the real thing when I travelled through your country, relishing its complex flavours and soft, warm texture; vowing to make it at home when I had the chance.
And then I decided to do this.
For those that don’t know what bobotie is, think shepherds pie sans the potato topping. Replace the potato with a savoury egg custard and throw a heap of spices and fruits into the meat. It’s a bit of an adaptation of an Indonesian dish called bobotok, I believe, brought to Africa via the Dutch and finally adopted by the Cape-Malays. It’s a mish-mash of flavours with a very noticeable sweetness.
Traditionally the meat that’s used is ground, cooked with curry spices and fruits like raisins and apple. This is what makes it sweet. Unless, of course, you lump in some sugar as many recipes seem to do.
I’ve done away with the minced meat and slow cooked a hunk of lamb shoulder instead; lovingly marinated overnight, then steam-roasted with the spices and fruits. The torn lamb on its own is perfect as a meaty dish with vegetables, rice or salad – but I’m making pies, remember.
The custard layer has still been incorporated, sitting neatly between the pastry top and meaty filling; and I couldn’t forget the obligatory bay leaf standing erect on the pie.
Looking at the ingredients list and individual methods is somewhat daunting, but remember, the meat can be done ahead of time; as can the pastry.
Alternatively, if pies don’t float your boat, whack the meat filling into a greased baking dish, top it with the custard and bay leaves and have it closer to the traditional versions.
Served with a good mango chutney, it’s one tasty and portable way to eat bobotie!
Recipe adapted from here