Bobotie is a well-known South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. It is one of the major foods in Cape Town, but is eaten all over the country.
Bobotie was originally an Indonesian dish consisting of meat with a custard topping that was cooked in a pan of water until the egg mixture set. Colonists introduced bobotie to South Africa and the first recipe appeared in a Dutch cookbook in the early 17th century. The dish is now a traditional “Cape Malay” comfort food, along with other favourites such as the bunny chow (which was incidentally brought over from India) and braai.
On the streets of South Africa, bobotie is likely to be made with beef or lamb, although pork lends the dish extra moisture. Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruit like raisins or sultanas and is often garnished with walnuts, chutney, and bananas. Although not particularly spicy, the dish incorporates a variety of flavours and ingredients that can add complexity. For example, it has the baked egg mixture topping complementing the milk-soaked bread, which in turn adds moisture to the dish.
I only ever got to try bobotie once, but the taste has stayed with me ever since. It is not a dish that is readily available in most other parts of the world, so a trip to South Africa is the best chance you will get to sample this local favourite. While it can be found in all parts of the country, I found some delicious bobotie in Long Street, Cape Town, which is known as one of the major backpacker hangouts in the city, and as well as enjoying the taste, it was good to learn about the influence of South East Asia in today’s South African cuisine!