South African Bobotie


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.

5.0 from 1 reviews
South African Bobotie
  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. Soak the bread in half of the milk, then mash with a forst and add to the meat.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients except the egg, remaining milk and bay leaves to the meat mixture and combine well.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a casserole and place the bay leaves on top. Bake for 1 hours.
  6. Beat the egg with remaining milk and pour over the meat mixture. Return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with rice.
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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.



  1. Monique says

    I first heard of this dish through Shel..Just Me Shel:) Her lovely South African Blog..You would enjoy it~

    Thank you for sharing your take..the photo makes me want to taste it:)
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  2. Ramona says

    Bobotie what? was my thought when I saw the title. Very interesting dish. It looks beautiful in your picture.
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  3. Lavender and Lovage says

    Ahhh………………I was born in S Africa, in Wynberg near Fishoek on the Cape……………..and I KNOW this dish very well and love it! What a very authentic recipe Cathy and a lovely photo too……………I am cooking on the Braai tonight ~ barbecued chops! A lovely post and somthing dear to my heart too!
    Lavender and Lovage recently posted..The Soup Days of Late Summer ~ Better than your Tinned Tomato Soup ~ Home-made Fresh Tomato SoupMy Profile

  4. rebecca says

    looks perfect :-) I used to live with a South African friend who made this for me :-)
    rebecca recently posted..Simple Meringue with FruitMy Profile

  5. Barbara F. says

    Cathy, this dish sounds delicious and I like the ingredients. I also love Greek food and pastitisio so I will give this recipe a try! I love interesting flavorful dishes that are different from what I usually cook – American, Italian and Italian-American, with some Mexican & Spanish dishes thrown in! xo
    Barbara F. recently posted..Peace Valley Lavender FarmMy Profile

  6. Bonnie says

    Cathy: This looks truly delicious! I’ve bookmarked it (have a bad habit of finding dishes I want to try and then not being able to find them again). We like trying recipes from different countries and I don’t think I’ve ever done anything from South Africa.

    Bonnie recently posted..Our Favorite FarmerMy Profile

  7. Rettabug says

    How interesting! All of that information is new to me. Thanks for the lesson & for the very creative photograph with the leaves all standing at attention. CUTE IDEA!

  8. Dzoli says

    Yes I have come across some greta Sout African recepies.They are through masters of casserole dishes.This one haven;t tried yet but it seems very tasty:)

  9. Marilyn says

    Fascinating recipe. I love seeing raisins, nuts, and chutney in savory recipes. It sounds like a good one.
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  10. Vickie from Part 3 says

    Wow, this has a really interesting combination of ingredients! I love trying new food like this.
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  11. Susan says

    This does look good! What an interesting post about South African food and your daughter’s friend. It is fun to research the origin of recipes and food from other cultures!
    Susan recently posted..Orange and Spice Fig JamMy Profile

  12. Pondside says

    I’ve always wondered, when reading fiction set in South Africa, just what bobotie might be – now I know!

  13. kristy says

    I don’t know much about African food and don’t often sees it on televisyen as well. Your post is simply fabulous. I would love to learn more.
    Hope you’re enjoying your day, Cathy.
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  14. Liz says

    I must have heard of this through my reading as well…but with a picky family, never have gone beyond trying to figure out the pronunciation! So glad you shared this with us all…and that it brought back memories of your daughter’s friend :)
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  15. Magic of Spice says

    What an interesting and delightful dish! This is a cuisine I have always been curious about but not very familiar with. Love the spices used :)
    Wishing you a lovely weekend…
    Magic of Spice recently posted..What’s for dinner? Hot Buttered Honey Rum Maitake Mushroom and Olive PizzaMy Profile

  16. teresa says

    how cool! this sounds so rich and full of flavor. i love foods from different regions of the country.
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  17. Jeannie says

    First time I see a south African food, looks interesting and tasty but not sure my guys would want to try it. Good to learn something new:)
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  18. My Carolina Kitchen says

    We think alike when it comes to what people in different countries like to eat. Interesting dish and lovely presentation Cathy. I read a couple of South African blogs and always forget that the time of the year there is opposite ours.
    My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..A Visit to the Biltmore Estate, Gardens, & Kitchens in Asheville, NCMy Profile

  19. Angie@Angiesrecipes says

    What a salivating homey dish!
    Angie@Angiesrecipes recently posted..Peanut Butter, Sesame Paste and Raisin CookiesMy Profile

  20. Barbara @ Barbara Bakes says

    Sounds like a filling comfort food. Would be a fun one to try.
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  21. Rita says

    So interesting; I have heard of this before and was always intrigued. Thank you for explaining how to prepare this.

  22. black eyed susans kitchen says

    I love trying new and different recipes and this qualifies….really sounds delicious!
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  23. Janine says

    Sounds yummy!! My son loved his time in Africa… He was in Kenya and Nairobi… Wants to go back soon!!
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  24. [email protected] says

    Great Post! A friend of ours from South Africa had a party this summer and a number of her friend were there and they told me about this dish. I can’t wait to make it.

  25. Lea Ann says

    That dish sounds like a wonderful combination of flavors. Thanks Cathy for sharing the recipe.
    Lea Ann recently posted..Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe…Summer Tapas Dinner Menu, con’tMy Profile

  26. Yvonne @ StoneGable says

    What exotic flavors! This must smell fabulous! Thanks for sharing ON THE MENU MONDAY and bringing this international dish!

  27. Lyndsey ~The Tiny Skillet~ says

    I do the same thing you do…research different regional cuisines, I love to learn and cook from different cultures. We have friends that are from South Africa and we usually spend Christmas with them, and learn so much. They also brought me back a Braai cookibook the last time they were there. I will have to make this for them it looks really good.
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