Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I had no light at all in my kitchen that day, the food is so much better then the photos.

This one was a special request by my husband. A few years back we were living in North London where there is this great South African restaurant called Boombar. We went there whenever we had an occasion to go out. If you ever find yourself in the area of Crouch End London (where Shaun of the Dead was filmed, among other historic events), stop by this place.

My husband’s favorite thing to get when we were there was Bobotie. It is the unofficial National dish of South Africa. He asked if I could make it for him, and here is what I found at Epicurious.

1 kg (2 pounds) minced lamb or beef, or a mixture of the two butter, vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2 ml (1/2 teaspoon) crushed garlic
15 ml (1 tablespoon) curry powder
5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground turmeric
2 slices bread, crumbled
60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 egg
5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt, milled black pepper
100 g (3 ounces) dried apricots, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored and chopped
60 ml (1/4 cup) sultanas (golden raisins)
50 g (1 1/2 ounces) slivered almonds, roasted in a dry frying pan
6 lemon, orange, or bay leaves
250 ml (1 cup) milk
2 eggs
2 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
Set the oven at 160°C (325°F). Butter a large casserole. Heat butter and oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric, and cook briefly until fragrant. Remove the pot from the heat.
Mix in the minced meat. Mix together the crumbs, milk, lemon rind and juice, egg, salt, pepper, apricots, apple, sultanas (golden raisins) and almonds and mix in. Pile into the casserole and level the top. Roll up the leaves and bury them at regular intervals. Seal with foil and bake for 1 1/4 hours. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F). Mix together the topping milk, eggs and salt (you may require extra topping if you've used a very large casserole), pour over and bake uncovered for a further 15 minutes until cooked and lightly browned. Serve with Yellow Rice and Blatjang.
Lannice Snyman shares her tips with Epicurious:
• As it cooks, the mince shrinks away from the sides of the dish — to prevent the custard topping from settling underneath the mince, flatten the mince well with a potato masher after it's cooked (before adding the custard topping).
• To make bobotie ahead of time, prepare and bake the mince, then cool, cover, and chill it for up to three days. Add the custard topping and bake as instructed, adding about 10 minutes to the baking time to compensate for the chilliness.

I didn’t remember the dish from Boombar, but my husband assures me that this one totally satisfied his memory of it. It was really good. The boys loved it too.

It’s easy to make, about as complicated as making a meatloaf. The tip about pressing it down after it cooked (with a potato masher) was really helpful, if I hadn’t been told, then probably all of my topping would have just run off over the sides.

The flavor combination is really great, and unusual too. If you haven’t had South African food before, this would be a good place to start.

I know I’ll be making it again.

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