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Bobotie – A South African Specialty from the Quarantine Kitchen

Bobotie – A South African Specialty from the Quarantine Kitchen

Bobotie with turmeric rice

I have written thousands of pages about my in-real-life travel experiences. But this post marks the first time I am chronicling a virtual travel experience, where I went to South Africa, just for an hour, to make bobotie. Bobotie is a traditional South African dish that melds seasoned meat, vibrant spices, and eggs, baked and served over golden turmeric rice.

I traveled to West African for the first time in 1999. In my journal, I wrote about the flight from the US taking me over the expansive Sahel, “…a rust-colored, sun-baked desert” that went on forever. “The first smells are of wet air, wood smoke, palm oil, industrial waste and exhaust,” I wrote just a day after landing in Cameroon, where I proceeded to eat some of the most incredible food I have ever tasted, but also forest rat, which I did not like. 

This Virtual Life

According to some, virtual experiences are our new normal. I’m not sure I’m willing to settle for that, however I do agree that we are in a time where our options to connect are limitless, as long as they are virtual. I still firmly believe that at our core, gathering IRL around a table nourishes our soul, and is only temporarily on hold.

I have been enjoying connecting with so many people live on Instagram – from local chefs and producers, to friends and our Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (I will post the stuffed baked chicken breast recipe that we made on his Instagram soon). 

I even had an opportunity to connect with a fellow food tour operator, Elsje from Cape Town Culinary Tours. It was so fun! We made a traditional south African dish, bobotie (pronounced boh-BOH-tee), live on Instagram. I almost felt like I had traveled to South Africa – even though I only had a chance to glimpse her kitchen. But we talked about the history of the food, and cooked the bobotie together, sort of.

It is a delicious dish, simple to make, and will fill your kitchen with delicious smells that are sure to gather anyone living in your house quickly around the table, or on the floor, six feet apart.

BOBOTIE

Heat oven to 350.
Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

INGREDIENTS:
1.5 cups rice 
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp turmeric
Salt

1 pound lean ground beef
2 onions, chopped
1/4 cup raisins or apricots, diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp curry powder or mix*
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garlic powder, or fresh garlic
1 tsp mustard seed
4 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup apricot jam/chutney**
7 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk and pinch of salt

Fruit chutney for serving
Hot sauce if desired

*I used a blend of two spice mixes that I purchased at an Indian grocery, and I highly recommend these – MDH Pav Bhaji Masala and Badshah Mumbai Bhaji Pav Masala

** I did not have chutney, so I simply drained a can of peaches, and added a splash of Vom Fass Calamansi vinegar. Perfect!

METHOD:
Saute onions in oil until golden.
Add meat and break apart. 
Cook until browned.
Add all at once the dry spices and stir continuously until the meat is “dry.” Do not let sices burn. This may take only a minute or so.
Mix in your peach or apricot chutney/jam.
Press the meat mixture firmly into the pan.
Mix the eggs and pour over the top of the meat.

Bake about 25 minutes. It may puff up though mine didn’t.

RICE:
1.5 cups rice
1 tbsp oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
Turmeric
Salt

Saute onions in oil until soft. Add tumeric and stir quickly. Add rinsed rice and stir to mix. Add water and salt and stir once more. Cook according to directions.

To serve:
Plate the rice
Top with a piece of bobotie
Garnish as desired
Serve with chutney or hot sauce

Published on Apr 10 2020