Maggie Cooper's bobotie.
Maggie Cooper's bobotie. 123rf

South African twist turns mince into something else

Cuisines from many countries feature a hearty dish made from minced meat with a savoury topping - shepherd's pie, cottage pie, lasagne and moussaka, to name but a few.

If you enjoy any (or all) of these dollops of comforting deliciousness, take it a step further and try bobotie (pronounced buh-bow-tee) from South Africa. This tasty mild and sweet curry is topped by a savoury egg custard, and it's not difficult to make.

My late friend, chef Mark Hendy, introduced me to the dish and I couldn't wait to try his recipe when he offered it to me.

An essential ingredient for Mark was South African staple, Mrs H.S. Ball's chutney - available in most big supermarkets. If you can't find it, any spicy fruit chutney can be substituted.


Serves: 6


2 slices bread; 1 1/4 cup milk, divided; 3 tbsp peanut oil; 2 white onions, peeled and diced; 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed; 2-3 tsp curry powder (to taste); 3cm knob fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tsp); 500g beef mince; 500g lamb or pork mince; 1 granny smith apple, peeled and diced; 4 tbsp Mrs H.S. Ball's chutney or substitute, plus extra to serve; 4 tbsp sultanas; salt and pepper, to taste; 2 large eggs; 4 fresh or dried bay leaves


Preheat oven to 160C. Soak bread in 1/3 cup milk for 10 minutes, then break up with a fork. Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat and cook onions until starting to soften. Add garlic, curry powder and ginger and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Increase heat and add meat, stirring to break up lumps. Brown the mince then add soaked bread, apple, chutney and sultanas, mixing to combine. Season to taste and spoon into an ovenproof dish.

Whisk together remaining milk and eggs and carefully pour over the meat. Top with bay leaves. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until custard topping is just set. Remove from oven and stand for 10 minutes.

Serve with steamed rice and extra chutney.