Mrs Melck’s Bobotie

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Mrs Melck’s Bobotie

Bobotie by Mrs Annetjie Melck

Probably the most far-reaching influence on the cooking customs of the Cape was the result of the importation of Malay slaves, from whom South Africans have inherited a wealth of Eastern dishes. They began to reach the Cape towards the end of the 17th century. The women were expert cooks who introduced not only exotic oriental dishes to Cape tables, but also brought with them the precious spices of the East.

The Cape Malays are past masters at combining a variety of spices in one dish or at serving “hot” dishes with cool “sambal” or, alternatively, hot chutney or pickles to add piquancy to bland foods. Basically, sambal consists of finely chopped vegetables or fruit steeped in salt and vinegar, with chillies, onions and other appetite-stimulating ingredients according to taste. Possibly the best known varieties to become part of Cape cuisine were those sambals made from cucumber, quinces or onions.

The following recipe for bobotie, one of the most popular Cape Malay dishes in South Africa, was provided by Mrs Annetjie Melck, one of the owners of “Oom Samie se Winkel” (Uncle Samie’s Store), one of the best-known tourist attractions in Stellenbosch.

1 kg minced topside
25 ml oil
12,5 ml butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
10 ml green ginger, chopped
25 ml curry powder
10 ml turmeric
25 ml apricot jam, smooth
3 slices white bread
3 eggs
375 ml milk
juice and rind of one lemon
3 bay leaves
salt and black pepper
flaked almonds (optional)

Sauté onions in 25 ml oil and 12,5 ml butter, add the chopped garlic and chopped green ginger and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric, add the minced topside to the pot and brown. Soak the bread in cold water.

Beat eggs with milk and add the lemon juice and rind. Squeeze all the water from the bread and crumble. Add the bread and milk and egg mixture to the meat once it is browned, as well as the apricot jam. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

If you find the curry flavour too mild, stir in 5 ml curry paste. Spoon into a well buttered oven dish and push the bay leaves into the bobotie. Bake at 180EC for 30 minutes.

For the custard, beat another 2 eggs with 180 ml plain yogurt and pour over the top of the bobotie. If you want to be extravagant, sprinkle some flaked almonds over the custard. Bake for 30 minutes at 180E C until the custard is golden brown. Serve with rice, some sliced banana, toasted coconut and tomato and onion sambal.Serves 6 – 8 persons.

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