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Bobootie 2.JPG
Place of origin South Africa
Main ingredients Minced meat
Cookbook: Bobotie  Media: Bobotie

Bobotie is a well-known[1] South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping.[2]

Origin of name and recipe[edit]

Bobotie's origin goes back to the recipe for Patinam ex lacte of Apicius, who lived in Rome some 2000 years ago. He packed layers of cooked meat in a dish. He added pine nuts, whereas South African add chopped almonds these days. Flavourants mentioned were pepper, celery seeds and asafoetida. The liquid was probably wine or grape syrup. These were cooked until all the flavours had blended, when a top layer of egg and milk was added. When the latter had set, the dish was ready to be served.[3] C. Louis Leipoldt, a well-known South African writer and gourmand, wrote that the recipe was known in Europe in the seventeenth century.[4]

The origin of the word Bobotie is contentious. The Afrikaans etymological dictionary claims that the probable origin is the Malayan word boemboe, meaning curry spices.[5] Others think it to have originated from bobotok,[6] an Indonesian dish which consisted of totally different ingredients.[7] The first recipe for bobotie appeared in a Dutch cookbook in 1609.[7] Afterwards, it was taken to South Africa and adopted by the Cape Malay community.[2] It is also made with curry powder leaving it with a slight "tang".[8] It is often served with Sambal.[9] The dish has been known in the Cape of Good Hope since the 17th century, when it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork.[10]


A side view of bobootie

Today, bobotie is much more likely to be made with beef or lamb, although pork lends the dish extra moisture. Early recipes incorporated ginger, marjoram and lemon rind; the introduction of curry powder has simplified the recipe somewhat but the basic concept remains the same. Some recipes also call for chopped onions to be added to the mixture. Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruit like raisins or sultanas. It is often garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas.[11] Although not particularly spicy, the dish incorporates a variety of flavours that can add complexity. For example, the dried fruit (usually apricots and raisins/sultanas) contrasts the curry flavouring. The texture of the dish is also complex, the baked egg mixture topping complementing the milk-soaked bread which adds moisture to the dish.

Leipoldt's recipe[edit]

Leipoldt's recipe book was published in 1933. He was not fond of mentioning quantities. He writes: Mince meat (cooked or raw) three times until very fine. Mix with fresh bread crumbs after being soaked in milk. Mix well. Braise onions in butter and make a good curry sauce with it and curry spices, brown sugar, lemon juice, chilli pepper and a few tablespoons of good vinegar. Stir in the minced meat and bread crumbs, and scramble a few eggs in it too. Instead of vinegar tamarind water can be used. Chop a few almonds and add it to the mixture. Place the mixture in a smeared baking tray in which a few lemon leaves had been placed. Pour over a cup of milk into which an egg yolk and whole egg and a little salt had been scrambled. Place in the oven and bake until it is nice and brown on top. Serve with boiled rice.[12]

Tulleken's recipe[edit]

Mrs S. van H. Tulleken's recipe book was first published in 1923. Her recipe for reads as follows: 2 lbs. mutton, boiled in 1 cup water for 15 minutes or till water is reduced to ¼of a cup. Save the stock in which the meat is boiled. Mince the meat. Add 12 ground almonds and 4 drops of bitter almond essence. Now chop 2 onions finely, and fry in 2 spoons butter, and add to meat. Soak 1 slice of bread in the stock in which meat was boiled and add also pepper and salt. Now mix 1 dessertspoon curry powder, juice of 1 lemon or 2 spoons of vinegar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon sugar, and add to meat, etc. Mix well and put in a pie dish. Bake for 15 minutes and pour over 2 cups milk, to which add 2 beaten eggs and pinch of salt. If at hand, stick a few orange leaves in the meat. Now place in oven and bake till custard on top has set.[13]

Pickle's recipe[edit]

Pickle's bobotie served with yellow rice and chutney

Group A: 30 ml ginger masala or equivalent ground ginger, 30 ml brown sugar, 10 ml garam masala or curry powder, 15 ml turmeric, 10 ml salt, 2 ml pepper, 60 ml ghee or butter or margarine, 2 onions, finely chopped.

Group B: 2 slices of white bread soaked in water, 1 kg beef mince, 150 ml raisins (seedless), 60 ml chutney, 30 ml apricot jam, 30 ml vinegar, 30 ml Worcestershire sauce

Group C: 375 ml milk,2 eggs

Sauté onions in ghee. When nearly ready, add the rest of the ingredients from group A and sauté for another five minutes. Set aside. Squeeze water from bread and mix all ingredients from group B. Add to ingredients from group A and cook for 20 minutes stirring regularly. Spray ‘n Cook ovenproof dish and place ingredients from groups A & B in it. Mix and beat ingredients from group C and pour over ingredients in the ovenproof dish. Bake in preheated oven at 180º C for 45 minutes. Serve with rice.

Bobotie elsewhere in Africa[edit]

The Bobotie recipe was transported by South African settlers to colonies all over Africa. Today, recipes for it can be found that originated in white settler communities in Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. There is a variation that was popular among the 7,000 Boer settlers who settled in the Chubut River Valley in Argentina in the early 20th century, in which the bobotie mixture is packed inside a large pumpkin, which is then baked until tender.

In culture[edit]

2008 Augusta National Champions Dinner[edit]

Bobotie was selected by 2008 Masters golf champion and South African native Trevor Immelman as the featured menu item for Augusta National's annual "Champions Dinner" in April 2009. Each year, the reigning champion at The Masters golf tournament, played every year in Augusta, Georgia, hosts the gathering and tends to create a menu featuring delicacies from his home region.[14]

2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival[edit]

South African Bobotie is one of the featured items on the menu; it is also served with turkey and mushrooms. It is listed as gluten free. It is also on the every day menu at the buffet restaurant Boma at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crais, C.; McClendon, T.V. (2013). The South Africa Reader: History, Culture, Politics. The World Readers. Duke University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-8223-7745-0. 
  2. ^ a b "Bobotie" – Times Live
  3. ^ Claassens, H.W., Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos 1652-1806, unpublished D.Phil thesis, University of Pretoria, 2003, p. 195-6.
  4. ^ C. Louis Leipoldt, Leipoldt's Cape Cookery, Cape Town, 1976, p. 16.
  5. ^ Etimologiewoordeboek van Afrikaans, WAT, 2003, p. 58.
  6. ^ Theodora Hurustiati (10 November 2013). "Bobotie's melting pot". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Smit, S., and Fulton, M. (1983) The South African Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery. Cape Town; C Struik.
  8. ^ "Bobotie Is South African Favorite" – The Hartford Courant
  9. ^ "Sampling South Africa Cooks Meld Far Flung Cuisines to Create a Flavor for a Nation" – Richmond Times
  10. ^ "Bobotie, South Africa's Indigenous Cuisine" – New York Times
  11. ^ "Bobotie, a local and international winner" – Independent Online
  12. ^ Leipoldt, C. Louis, Kos vir die Kenner, Human & Rossouw, 2011, p. 253.
  13. ^ Tulleken, S. van H., The Practical Cookery Book for South Africa, 22nd edition, 1947, p. 133.
  14. ^ "On the Menu: The Champions Dinner at The Masters" –
  15. ^ "AFRICA – 2014 EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL MENU". Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 

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