New Internationalist

Recipe of the Week: Bobotie (South Africa)

Global Vegetarian Kitchen Cover The Global Vegetarian Kitchen offers more than the traditional on a worldwide scale. From Spanish  Gazpacho to Korean Bibimbap and Australian Pavlova, The Global Vegetarian Kitchen features  outstanding full-colour photographs, which accompany more than 100 easy, appetizing recipes for  vegetarians, vegans and those who just enjoy good food. Whether you grow your own food, source fair  trade or buy local, this cookbook starts where you are, offering tips to source local and cook global.  It’s time to take your tastebuds traveling.

Bobotie This is a traditional South African recipe, adapted from its meat- based origins. The name of this popular South African dish probably comes from the Indonesian word bobotek. It is likely that the recipe traveled from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). It has a varied heritage: the Dutch brought ground meat to the local cuisine, the spices were introduced by the slaves from Indonesia and the presentation is reminiscent of English shepherd’s pie. But, in my experience, it’s more eaten at home than served in restaurants - which is a pity.

Serves: 4

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking: 60 minutes

3 or 4 slices bread

1 cup / 240 ml milk

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1-inch/2.5-cm piece fresh ginger, grated

1/4-1/2 green chili, de-seeded and chopped finely

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

4 cloves

8 allspice berries

stick of cinnamon

3/4 cup / 100 g dried apricots, chopped

2 tbsp sultanas or raisins

1 apple chopped

1 cup / 200 g red lentils, washed

2 cups water

1 can rosecoco or blackeyed beans, drained

1 egg

3 tbsp parsley, chopped

3 bay leaves

oil, butter or margarine



1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1 egg

1 cup / 240 ml milk

(including retained milk from soaked bread)

Heat oven to 400 F/200 C/Gas 6

1 First, soak the bread in the milk for about 20-30 minutes, until the milk is fully absorbed and the bread is really soft. When ready, with clean hand, squeeze the bread to release some of the milk (retain this milk).

2 While the bread is soaking, heat the fat in a saucepan and then cook the onions until soft. Next, put in the garlic, ginger, chili, garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander, cloves, allspice and cinnamon stick and stir; fry for a couple of minutes.

3 Add water, apricots and sultanas or raisins, apple and lentils and cook for some 20 minutes until the lentils are soft. Leave to cool a little.

4 While cooking, mix the soaked bread with the egg, parsley, bay leaves and the beans. Add this to the lentil mix and squash with your clean hand so the beans are partly, but not fully, mashed. This should make a moist but not watery mix.

5 Put into a baking dish and smooth the top with a spoon.

6 Now, for the topping, mix the egg, with the retained milk from the soaked bread, adding more milk as necessary to make about 1 cup/240 ml. Mix in the turmeric, cinnamon and salt; stir well. Pour this topping over the bean and lentil mix and put it in the oven.

7 Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the topping has set and is golden brown. Serve with yellow rice with raisins (easy to make by adding a little turmeric while cooking), and ‘sambals’ such as diced cucumber and yogurt (raita), dried coconut, chutneys or apricot jam, sliced tomatoes in a little vinegar with chopped chives or spring onions on top, chopped parsley, and sliced bananas.

Comments on Recipe of the Week: Bobotie (South Africa)

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  1. #1 rike 23 Sep 10

    All things vegetable

    Thanks for this. Great to see a vegetarian version circulating. I have posted a link to my food blog in South Africa ( Another South African blog dealing with planting food (amongst other indigenous and organic endeavours) is Sprig (

  2. #2 New Internationalist Publications 11 Oct 10

    Thanks for posting the link to your blog Rike! Hope you're still enjoying the recipes :)

  3. #3 mona 21 Mar 11

    One African Place

    dear friends,

    May I say, you are doing a great job here. Well done.
    I know you are having fun!
    I might have a few ideas...

    I just liked your website..your articles are so cool and really good…awsem…

    your welcome to this site do like it..

    the link is about actually it is an African portal
    dedicated to serve the african community that provides all sorts of services..
    my pleasure if you like it..

    May God Bless you and take care


  4. #4 Johan Liebenberg 20 Jul 12

    Hello, I am busy with an article for a local (South African) magazine on the origins of among other Bobotek, and other Indonesian dishes which found its way to other parts of Europe and the Cape.

    Would you mind sending me an email so we can connect?

    It would be much appreciated.

    Many thanks.


  5. #5 Brij 29 May 13

    Yummy this recipe is fabulous!

  6. #8 Cory 27 Sep 14

    Bobotie is featured on the menu of the 2014 Epcot Internation Food & Wine Festival Africa booth. - [a href=’’]

  7. #9 Simon Brooks 20 Jun 16

    Wow, this looks absolutely delicious, I'd love to try it sometime especially since my wife and I have been trying to cut back on meats a little bit. The recipe doesn't sound too hard either; although, I'll probably have to find some ingredients online since our local grocery store doesn't have a huge variety. Regardless though, it will probably be my wife who ends up cooking it since, last time I tried to cook anything foreign, I nearly burned the house down!;information_id=4

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