HOLY CRAP. That was the thought that exploded in my brain as the shockwave of flavor traveled from my tongue to my head. Really?? Oh, South Africa, how could I have doubted that your national dish would be every bit as flavorful as you are.
Ok, maybe a little over-dramatic on my part, but if you try to make this, you might have the same reaction.
So what exactly is Bobotie (pronounced ba-bour-tea)? Well, the best ways I can think to describe it is to equate it with American meat loaf (though not in loaf form, which I made way back in week 1) or moussaka. The country’s tumultuous history and the struggles between the natives and the colonists seeped into the cuisine with delightful results. Below is an excerpt I found from the New York Times that I think tells the story well:
In the beginning – that means 329 years ago – the Dutch East India Company was not at all interested in colonizing the Cape of Good Hope, only in setting up the 17th-century equivalent of a truck stop there for its Java-bound ships.
Within months the company’s men had their kitchen gardens under cultivation; within a couple of years, their first vineyard. The ships that called at Cape Town on their way back to Holland from what is now Indonesia started depositing spices and, a little later, Malay-speaking slaves to work in the kitchens of the whites. Thus, almost from the start the ingredients were on hand not only for racial conflict but a distinctive cuisine, blending Eastern and Western influences. That, in short, is how bobotie was born.
The recipe I used came from the same cookbook as the Cape Brandy Pudding, A Taste of Tradition: South African Country Recipes. The only switches I made (from their recipe to mine) were (1) I used ground turkey rather than the traditional beef or lamb since I just made Suya (and I’m already planning a beef dish for next week) and (2) dried cranberries rather than raisins (personal preference-I don’t like raisins).
So before you shake your head and think to yourself “this looks too weird for me,” consider this: Not only does it manage to perfectly mix sweet and savory, but it’s sort of like one of my favorite episodes of Friends (“The One Where Ross Got High”) where Rachel made the “banana-meat thing.” Joey was right. Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Goooood.
This will fill one 9” pie plate. Serves 3-4.
- 1 slice bread (whatever you have on hand)
- ½ cup milk
- 1 pound ground turkey
- ½ medium onion, diced
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
- 1 TB apricot jam
- 1 TB fruit chutney (I used mango)
- 2 TB lemon juice
- Handful of mixed herbs, chopped
- 1 tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp oil
- 2 bay leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Soak the bread in about ¼ cup of the milk, then squeeze it out, reserving the milk.
- In a large bowl, mix the bread, turkey, onion, cranberries, jam, chutney, lemon juice, herbs and spices. Get in there and mix it with your hands. It’s really the only way.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the meat mixture lightly. Put it into a casserole dish (or a pie plate works just fine).
- Beat the eggs with the remaining and reserved milk and pour the mixture over the meat. Garnish the top with the bay leaves.
- Bake for about 50 minutes, or until set. Serve with yellow rice.