My last memory of Bobotie was being served a plate at an aunt’s house, as a child. I found it absolutely disgusting – minced beef studded with raisins was, to me, the height of culinary dementia and as for the custard on top – studded with leaves! Sies! As I have grown older and my palate has acquired a liking for more than a handful of foods, I have fallen in love with Bobotie. The combination of sweet and savoury, the hint of curry and the silken custard are now most appealing. The dish translates well into a vegetarian meal using Pumpkin or Butternut and on these cold winter nights provides a flavourful, comforting dinner.
2 onions, chopped
1kg pumpkin or butternut ( I used 500g of each), peeled, diced, steamed and drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices brown bread, crusts trimmed
315ml (1 1/4 cups) buttermilk
3 XL Free-range eggs
a small handful of dried apricots (65ml or a 1/4 cup )
1 apple, peeled and grated
1/4 cup seedless raisins
30ml (2tbsp) Brown sugar
15ml (1tbsp) mild curry powder
30ml (2tbsp) lemon juice
bay or lemon leaves
a pinch of turmeric
Brown Basmati rice
Mango Atchar or chutney, or both
some fresh coriander for garnishing
Buttered brown bread if you like it old school!
Preheat the oven to 180C. Gently cook the onion in the heated butter until meltingly soft and pale golden. Mash the pumpkin/butternut and mix it with the onion. Season to taste – I threw in a scattering of ground cinnamon at this point. Tear the bread into bits and combine with 1/4cup of buttermilk and 1 beaten egg. Leave it to soak for a few minutes before mashing it up with a fork (don’t be stupid like me and use the potato masher – it ended up sticking to it in big gloopy lumps). Add your chopped apricots, apple, raisins, sugar, lemon juice and curry powder to the bread mixture and stir this into the pumpkin/butternut mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Turn into a buttered baking dish or individual dishes if you prefer and stud with a few of the bay/lemon leaves. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes. Beat the remaining 2 eggs with the rest of the buttermilk and the turmeric, and pour over the baked pumpkin. Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is set. Garnish with the coriander and serve with brown rice and the mango atchar/chutney.