Bobotie: How To Make South African Bobotie

Bobotie is a famous South African dish made of spiced minced meat baked with a topping based on eggs. Today, bobotie is much more likely to be made from beef or lamb, while pork gives extra moisture to the dish. Earlier recipes included ginger, marjoram, and lemon rind. The addition of curry powder has improved the taste in recent years. Some recipes also require the addition of chopped onions and almonds to the mixture.

Bobotie traditionally incorporates dried fruit, such as raisins and sultanas. It is often garnished with bananas, walnuts, and chutney. Despite not being especially spicy, the dish contains a variety of flavors that can add complexity. The dried fruit, for example, contrasts the curry flavor.

The texture of the dish is also very unique. Typically, bobotie is served with “yellow rice,” which is rice cooked with turmeric. Bobotie seems to be a variant of Patinam ex lacte. This is a dish documented by the ancient Roman writer Apicius as cooked layers of meat, pine nuts, and seasoned with pepper, celery seeds, and asafoetida. These were cooked until the flavors mixed. Then, egg and milk were added to the top layer. The dish was ready to be served after the latter had set. 

South African Bobotie

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: South African

The whole preparation and cooking time is 40 minutes. This recipe is suitable for at least 6 servings. 

Photo credit: @freshmushroomssa /

South African Bobotie Ingredients

  • 3 slices white bread
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1kg packet lean minced beef
  • 3 tbsp Madras curry paste
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 2 tbsp peach or mango chutney
  • 3 tbsp sultana
  • 6 bay leaves

For the toppings,

  • 400ml full-cream milk
  • 3 large eggs

South African Bobotie Instructions

Step 1: First, heat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Pour cold water over the bread, then set aside for soaking. In the meantime, fry the butter onions, stirring regularly for 10 minutes until they are soft and begin coloring. Add the garlic and beef, and stir well, crushing the beef into fine grains until the color changes. Add 1 tsp of salt and plenty of ground black pepper to the curry paste, along with the herbs, spices, chutneys, sultanas, and two of the bay leaves.

Step 2: Cover for 10 minutes, and simmer. Squeeze the water from the bread, then beat in the meat mixture until well mixed. Pour into an oval ovenproof dish (23x 33 cm and roughly 5-6 cm thick).

Step 3: Push down the mixture and smooth the surface. You can do this and refrigerate one day ahead of baking it. Beat the milk and eggs with desired seasonings for the topping then pour over the meat.

Step 4: Top with the remaining bay leaves and bake for 35-40 mins until the top is set and starts turning golden.

Step 5: Serve while hot.

South African Bobotie Additional Information

  • Per servings has 386 calories, 16g of fat, 6g of saturated fat, 20g of carbohydrates, 43g of protein.
  • This recipe will take 40 minutes to prepare. 
  • This recipe will make enough to serve about 6 people.
  • Bobotie recipes have been exported to other parts of Africa by South African settlers. Recipes for it can be found today that originated in communities of white settlers in Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
  • There is a variation that was popular among the 7,000 Boer settlers who settled in early 20th century Argentina’s Chubut River Valley in which the bobotie mix is packed inside a large pumpkin, which is then baked until it is tender.


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About South African Bobotie Recipe

Bobotie is a recipe introduced from Indonesia into South Africa in the seventeenth century and adapted by the group of Cape Malay. The members of the community are descendants of Cape Malay as slaves and political refugees from Indonesia and Malaysia. The Cape Colony was under Dutch control until the early nineteenth century. The ethnic group now consists of 200,000 people and is mostly Muslim.


Generally, this dish is prepared with beef or lamb. The ingredients that make this dish so unique are curry, ginger, lemon, dried apricots and raisins, almonds, or walnuts. For more international recipes, click here.

Featured images: @ejayskitchen /, @pahouseholder /