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Updated: Aug 21, 2018

My sisters and I schedule a few days each year to concentrate on keeping our ties. Easy, you say? Not so when we are spread out some 5000 miles. Each year we try something different and often to great lengths for our personal milestones. S4 had a milestone a couple of years ago that rocked my world. She chose springtime in Cape Town,South Africa. This began my love affair with all things South African, Trevor Noah included, and the maddening desire to return.

Food, of course, defines a culture like no other and Cape Town did not disappoint. We dined in Moyo's treetop buffet (sadly no longer open), *Ferryman's Pub at the Victoria & Albert Wharf and even a 10 course seaside fish bake that was, due to eating 10 courses of JUST FISH with a seashell on the beach, faintly reminiscent of Gillian’s island. The fish, of course, stands out for its freshness and who wouldn’t want to dine in a tree top? But what do the neighbourhood folks eat? In the USA it’s meatloaf, in Great Britain, shepherd’s pie and in South Africa it’s BOBOTIE (be’bueti).

Bobotie is a popular dish made with minced meats and an egg custard topping and there are as many variations as there are kitchens. This dish is old and well travelled. Similarities can be found between this dish and foods from Ancient Rome and C. Louis Leipoldt, a writer and gourmet, published a recipe for this dish in 1933, with its origins in 17th century Europe.

However the origin of this recipe is probably Malayan. The first recipe in print was Dutch, in 1609. It was made with a mixture of mutton and pork and many varieties have grown from that. Leipoldt’s recipe listed a variety of minced meats, breadcrumbs, milk, butter, curry sauce and the egg/milk custard.

I used a simple recipe from to test this out on my daughter and her family. I limited my ingredients to those on hand and had minimum expectations as the reviews for this recipe said that cook times and ingredient ratios were off. This is true, but here goes anyway, with a few tweaks to help you along.


2 Onions, chopped

2lb. Ground could mix this up with sausage or veal

3 slices. Texas toast...not toasted...thick bread slices 1 1/2-2”

3/4C raisins

1Tbs. Apricot jam

1Tbs. hot chutney...I used mild as I’m a big baby

1/2 tsp. Curry powder...I threw in a bit more

1. Bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

2C. milk, separated

2 eggs

* the published recipe called for 1 cup milk and 1 egg but that was not enough by a long shot. My above proportions were not generous so if you really want the custard to present and stand out start with the 2-2 and multiply to your taste

Preheat oven to 350*

Lightly grease a 9x13 pan....I used a glass casserole dish

In a skillet sauté onions in a bit of oil, add beef and cook until brown

In a shallow bowl or dish, soak the bread in 1 cup of the milk, squeeze out the excess and save

Mangle the bread and add to the beef along with the raisins, jam, chutney and curry


Pour the mixture into the dish and bake, uncovered one hour. ( I found this to be too long, the meat began to dry...would be best to cover with foil)

Whisk the milk, reserve milk and eggs. Pour over the meat mixture, lay the bay leaf on top and bake an additional 30 minutes and until the custard has a nice browning colour.

In my opinion this recipe is not enough of a stretch and is basically a deconstructed meatloaf with a sweet touch. It was a bit dry but was very good cold the following day, just like meatloaf! I plan to do the Leipoldt recipe from 1933 at a later date so look for updates.


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