Chutneys can be quite intense in flavor and I’m always looking for dishes that use chutneys in a way that enhances rather than overpowers. Bobotie, a South African meat pie using chutney, is a one of those dishes where the addition of chutney really helps it shine.
What is Bobotie?
Many regions claim Bobotie as their own, and there are strong opinions on its origins, as well as what ingredients and techniques make it the most “authentic” bobotie.
Bobotie was declared the national dish of South Africa by the United Nations women’s organization in 1954, but some maintain that its origins are Indonesian or Dutch. It seems that the Dutch are credited with introducing the ground meat part of the dish to South Africa, and the Indonesian are given credit for the chutney and spice ingredients.
Acknowledging that there is debate on origins, I’m sticking with the United Nations and calling it South African.
Common Ingredients to Traditional Bobotie
I first made this recipe at the beginning of my cooking/ blogging adventures. I tried several different recipes, ranging from a pastry encrusted meat pie with ground lamb to a ground beef casserole with a very thin layer of custard on top.
The common elements of Bobotie recipes include:
- ground meat (either lamb or beef),
- a topping of either custard or dough,
- fruit (either apricots, cranberries, apples – mostly fall fruit),
- spices (usually curry),
- bread soaked in milk.
Just stay true to the meat, bread and custard proportions to get a successful recipe. Mix and match the spices and fruits at will, and it will still be delicious.
What Bobotie looks like in steps
Other Online Versions of Bobotie
After testing several recipes I got from online sources (Taste.com.au, The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa, and a blog called Tara and Karina go out ), I gleaned what I thought was the best of these recipes and developed a recipe that I feel showcases the uniqueness of adding a chutney to a dish.
I am really happy with this recipe and it got five stars from the “discerning husband”, so I hope you enjoy it also. Of course, after serving his role as the official taste tester of each version of bobotie, the husband started to get a little overwhelmed with the thought of another version!
Can Bobotie be Frozen?
Most recipes I looked at compared bobotie to a lasagna or moussaka. Both of these dishes freeze well, and bobotie would be a similar freezing method. I have not tried freezing the bobotie yet, but if you are freezing it you will want to let it thaw and reheat it at 300°F.
What Is Bobotie Served with?
The traditional accompaniment for Bobotie is yellow rice, cooked with turmeric, raisins and a cinnamon stick. I don’t care for raisins (which many of the Bobotie recipes called for also) so here are some other options to serve alongside the bobotie:
- Tomato/ onion salad (otherwise known as sambal salad)
- Nicoise salad or really any fresh green salad
- Boereboontjies- a more traditional South African dish consisting of green beans and potatoes
- Although not a traditional accoutrement to bobotie, I think pickled onions give the bobotie a crisp zing
- A variety of chutneys and jams or a blatjang (a mix between a chutney and a jam)
- Harissa, chimichurri or romesco sauce
In the recipe below, I made the bobotie with a chutney/ apricot jam mix. I used this red bell pepper chutney (my all-time favorite chutney) and this apricot jam. Any fruit based chutney or jam will work though.
Similar Recipes You’ll Love
- Another great recipe using chutney is this recipe for crock pot stuffed peppers
- Continue the African food tour with this Moroccan beef tagine
- Or try this super easy North African Shakshouka
Bobotie Versions with Puff Pastry Crust
Bobotie Topped with Custard
- 9” pie pan (or oven-safe dish)
Ingredients for filling
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed or finely chopped
- 1 1/2 lb ground chuck or sirloin many recipes use ground lamb
- 2 slices sourdough bread soaked in milk and squeezed out before using
- 1 Tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- dash pepper
- 1 granny smith apple peeled and grated (I used box grater)
- 2 Tbsp apricot jam
- 4 Tbsp chutney of your choice
Ingredients for custard
- 1 cup milk I used 1/2 cup 2% and 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 3 large eggs room temp
- 1 Tbsp brandy
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 2 bay leaves for garnish
- Heat oil in large skillet and add onions. Saute onions until golden brown over low heat, about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic for last minute of saute, so as not to burn garlic
- Add meat to the skillet and sauté until nicely browned and no longer pink. Turn off burner and drain any excess grease after it is browned.
- Remove pan from the burner, add remaining ingredients, including soaked bread (before adding bread, use your hands to wring out the milk from the bread). Stir everything together until well-combined and place mixture in greased pie pan or ovenware dish.
- Make the custard: Whisk alll custard ingredients together with wire whisk, except bay leaves, and pour over the beef mixture. Arrange the bay leaves in the center of the meat pie.
- Bake at 350 F for approximately 50 minutes. Cool five minutes or so before cutting and serve with additional chutney on the side.
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