When my daughter was in high school she was very close friends with an exchange student from South Africa. They spent a lot of time together and she often joined us for dinner. We loved hearing stories about her family and her life in Johannesburg and they still keep in touch today via Facebook. I was recently browsing through an old copy of National Geographic on my mother’s coffee table and found an article about South Africa that reminded me of my daughter’s friend and how much we liked her. One thought led to another and before long I was sitting at my computer doing a little research on that part of the world. As always, my first questions were about their favorite foods and local ingredients.
Many South African dishes eaten today are closely based on foods from ancient times such as Pap, a dish made from maize and eaten like rice, a native African staple. Bobotie, a Malay dish similar to shepherd’s pie, is often called the national dish of South Africa. Among other favorites of various cultures are Boerewors, a type of sausage introduced by German immigrants and chakalaka, a salad of Malay/Indian origin.
A very popular South African pastime is the braai, equivalent to our barbecue. All manner of fresh foods are cooked over coals and most suburban houses have a braai area. As with many cuisines, South African meals can range from one dish or many served in courses or at the same time. There don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules and the cuisine can consist of anything from simply cooked fresh crayfish to spicy Malay curries to hearty Dutch stews and even variations of British meat pies. There are many wonderful South Africa food recipes to be found on the internet and I hope you take time to explore this rich and diverse cuisine.
Bobotie is a spiced meat pie baked with an egg topping that dates back to the 17th century when it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork. Today it is much more likely to be made with beef or lamb. Bobotie incorporates dried fruits like raisins or apricots and almonds and is often garnished with nuts, chutney and bananas. Rice is the traditional accompaniment.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1-1/2 pounds ground beef or lamb, or a mixture of both
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon tumeric
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons chutney
- 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped
- Juice and rind of ½ lemon
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat oil in a large pan, add the onions and meat and fry until brown, turning from time to time. Drain off excess oil and set aside.
- Soak the bread in half of the milk, then mash with a forst and add to the meat.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the egg, remaining milk and bay leaves to the meat mixture and combine well.
- Transfer the mixture to a casserole and place the bay leaves on top. Bake for 1 hours.
- Beat the egg with remaining milk and pour over the meat mixture. Return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with rice.
Part of the fun of blogging is learning about new places and new foods. I hope you enjoyed this little trip to South Africa and will be tempted to try a recipe or two. Bobotie reminds me of Greek pastitio with its pasta/meat sauce base and creamy custard topping. For those of us who love to cook trying the recipes of other cultures is a great way to learn about and appreciate them more.