Bobotie – a South African favourite


This dish with apparently Indonesian origins seems to have become a (white?) South African classic. When we were travelling in Southern Africa we stayed with some relatives in Johannesburg and this was dished up to us several times by different family members wanting to offer us a ‘real’ taste of South Africa. I think, like chili-con-carne or spaghetti bolognese here every South African household has their own version of this recipe passed down through the generations. I copied this one from my Auntie Sue’s recipe book before travelling back to the UK.

I admit to being rather contrary when it comes to fruit in savoury food. Apple and pork is fine but pineapple on pizza is a definite ‘no’ and banana in curry is simply the devil’s work. Usually raisins and meat would send me running but I have to admit that it does work nicely in this dish. There was an option for tinned peaches instead of apple in Auntie Sue’s recipe but for me the tangy tartness of apple is preferable to sweet tinned peaches.

There’s something rather baby food like and comforting about Bobotie. It is very mildly spiced and sweet with a light savoury custard topping. It goes down very well with my children served with lots of rice. It also works well as a hot buffet dish  as you can increase the quantity with very little extra effort.

Auntie Sue’s Bobotie

Serves 4 with left overs

  • 675g steak mince
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 4 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • 2 small dessert apples
  • 75g sultanas
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chutney (I use mango)
  • 35g breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 450ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 180oC fan.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the mince and fry on a high heat until brown. Add the garlic, onion, curry powder and apple and cook for a couple of minutes over a medium heat stirring until all the ingredients are well combined.

Add the sultanas, chutney, breadcrumbs and seasoning and stir to combine. Pour into a lightly oiled oven dish.

Beat the eggs and milk together and season with salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the meat and place the bay leaves on top.

Bake for 45 minutes until the custard is set.

Serve with lots of rice (see my post – Nice Rice). I like to flavour the rice with saffron and turmeric.

NOTE: Don’t be tempted to leave out the breadcrumbs (which I did do once) they are vital for the overall texture of the dish. Some versions seem to use slices of white bread cubed and then soaked in milk and stirred into the meat instead of breadcrumbs. This may be an option if you don’t have breadcrumbs to hand but I’ve not tried it myself.

bobotie into dish

bobotie custard topping

bobotie out of the oven



  1. Very traditional meal, I myself am personally not a huge fan. I do however love the fact that almost every South African family will have their own recipe. We usually add raisins. Thanks for the recipe though I will be sure to try this one

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