South African Babotie Recipe
Babotie like many other classic South African recipes reflects the diversity of South African culture. The spices in babotie come from Indonesia, whilst the Dutch introduced ground meat (mince) to South African and Babotie, like shepherds pie from England used to be made with leftovers from the Sunday roast. The original recipe is likely to have come from the Dutch East India Company and their colonies in Indonesia, with the name coming from the Indonesian Bobotok.
Babotie has spread throughout Africa with the settlers and you can find different versions of the recipe in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Kenya. Interestingly there is also a variation of babotie in Argentina brought by the boer settlers from the early 20th century where the babotie is placed into a pumpkin and then baked.
The meat in Babotie
The original recipe of babotie was mad with pork and mutton, today most recipes for babotie are made with beef or lamb.
Babotie Fruit and Spices
Babotie is not an overly spicy dish and because it often contains fruit (dried apricots and raisins or sultanas) the flavour is well balanced. Babotie can be traced right back to the 17th century in the Cape and these original recipes would have contained ginger, majoram and lemon rind. The later introduction of Curry Powder has made the recipe much easier to make, but the basic principals still remain the same.
Classic South African Babotie Recipe (Beef)
Babotie Ingredients, To make a classic South African Babotie you will need:
- 2 – 2 1/4 pounds good quality lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 peeled and sliced onions
- 1 thickish slice of white bread
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon medium curry powder – you can also have hot if you wish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- freshly grated pepper (about a half teaspoon)
- 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar
- 1/2 cup seedless raisins
- 2 tablespoons strong chutney (Mrs balls Mango is the best for this)
- 2 bay leaves (or fresh lemon leaves if available)
- 2 medium eggs
To make Babotie, first preheat the oven to about 180 C
Heat the oil in a saucepan add the onions and cook until soft. Add your minced beef and cook through.
During this time, soak your bread in the milk, remove excess milk (not all of it) and then mash the bread with the fork. Keep the milk as you will need it later.
Add your bread, curry powder, sugar, salt, pepper, turmeric, vinegar, raisins, chutney to the beef mixture and cook for a few minutes. Becareful, because of the bread it can easily burn.
Once cooked, spoon the mixture into a baking dish, and place the bay leaves on top. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes. Meanwhile beat the eggs into the milk mixture and then carefully pour over the beef mixture about 25 minutes before the end of the baking time, this will form a lovely crust on the top.
Serve the Babotie with steamed yellow rice, sliced bananas and extra chutney.