From South Africa, with love

by Sunita on February 15, 2010

The inspiration for this post comes all the way from South Africa, courtesy of dear Jeanne. Jeanne blogs at Cook Sister , an award winning South African blog. I had the good fortune of meeting her last November during the Food Blogger Connect in London. She is a charming and talented lady in her own right.

Shortly after we moved house towards the end of last year, I received a parcel from Jeanne. Few days earlier, she had asked for my address, but little did I know that such a treat was in store for us. It was packed with goodies that she had brought back during her recent trip to South Africa. Even before I opened the parcel, I could ’smell’ the contents. The postman must have loved delivering such an aromatic parcel, aromas wafting from the spices in it- spiced tea, a spice rub and and  an assortment of spices and instructions for preparing bobotie ( pronounced ba-boor-tea). And yes, there was  a fruit roll, which we ( Dinesh and the kids even fought for the last piece)  absolutely adored along with the rest of the goodies. All of this was accompanied with a lovely letter. Thanks Jeanne.

Up to now, I had never heard of bobotie and was really intrigued. Once again, I was learning something new through blogging. A different culture, a different cuisine! How exciting, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. 

”Bobotie  is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced baked with an egg-based topping.The recipe probably originates from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian Bobotok. It is also made with curry powder leaving it with a slight “tang”. It has certainly been known in the Cape of Good Hope since the 17th century, when it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork. Today it is much more likely to be made with beef or lamb  although pork lends the dish extra moistness.

Early recipes incorporated ginger, marjoram and lemon rind; the introduction of curry powder has simplified the recipe somewhat but the basic concept remains the same. Some recipes also call for chopped onions to be added to the mixture. Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruits like raisins or sultanas, but the sweetness that they lend is not to everybody’s taste. It is often garnished with walnuts, chutney and banana.

Although not particularly spicy, the dish incorporates a variety of flavours that can add complexity. For example, the dried fruit (usually apricots and raisins/sultanas) contrasts the curry flavouring very nicely. The texture of the dish is also complex, with the baked egg mixture topping complementing the milk-soaked bread which adds moisture to the dish.” (source)

The assortment of spices that Jeane sent me to make bobotie also had instructions on the back for making the dish. However, I did consult Jeanne’s recipe on her blog too. In fact, I mostly followed her recipe. The result was a dish, which I must admit, like most ‘homey’ foods, did not look great from an aesthetic point of view. But, then , this was a hearty dish, and the taste was delightful. A few of the steps did make me hesitate a bit, but then, I proceeded on the adventure to tingle the taste buds with new flavours. We were not disappointed. Jeanne suggested some turmeric rice to go with it. She usually added raisins to hers. I added raisins and almonds to the bobotie and so left out the raisins in the rice . I just made a simple turmeric rice by adding a pinch of turmeric powder to the boiling rice. Yes, I was feeling a bit lazy to do more, but the mild flavours of the rice complemented the bobotie perfectly. Rengoni and Agastya were asking for seconds and thirds in no time, so it did go down well with the four of us.

I am not mentioning the recipe here as I have mostly followed Jeanne’s recipe ( didn’t have apricots and apricot jam), so you can have a look at the original recipe here.

Thanks again, Jeanne, for the gifts. And yes, this is a true food blogger connection!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah, Maison Cupcake February 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I’ve never heard of bobotie either but it looks very nice and I love anything curried. I like how you’ve presented your rice.


2 Sunita February 16, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Thanks sarah, this is my first time with this dish too :-)


3 Jeanne @ Cooksister! February 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Aww – thanks for your lovely words Sunita! I’m so glad you liked the parcel I sent – and that your kids were even fighting over the last scraps! Glad you enjoyed the bobotie – it’s real comfort food, isn’t it? And the good news is that I’ll be visiting South Africa again in March – taking orders from your kids now!


4 Sunita February 16, 2010 at 9:36 pm

You’re bmost welcome Jeanne. In fact, thanks to you for introducing us to all those new tastes.


5 Ed Schenk February 15, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Great post! I love reading about cuisines I am not yet familiar with.


6 Sunita February 16, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Thanks Ed; and yes, it is great to discover new cuisines :-)


7 nandita February 16, 2010 at 12:28 am

that’s the beauty of food blogging – cultural exchange of homebred recipes :)
beautiful pics as always – you make the simple turmeric rice look glam too :)


8 Sunita February 16, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Thanks Nandita; and yes,Cultural exchange indeed!


9 Nirmala February 16, 2010 at 5:11 am

Wow! Thats the fruit of blogging and friendship! The plate is adorable and I bet the taste too!


10 Sunita February 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Ys, we loved the dish :-)


11 notyet100 February 16, 2010 at 5:59 am

lovely gift….;-)


12 Sunita February 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Thanks :-)


13 Aparna February 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

Wasn’t that sweet of Jeanne? But then, food bloggers are a most wonderful community. :)
Bobotie, seeing it for the first time. Looks good though.


14 Sunita February 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm

It sure was. And I’m so glad to be a part of this wonderful community.


15 Su-yin February 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I have heard of bobotie, but have never tried it before. It looks (and sounds) yummy though.

I completely agree with you re: blogging, it has introduced me to so many new ingredients and dishes that I would not have known of otherwise. :) And the fact that you make new friends is always a plus!


16 Sunita February 16, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Thanks Su, we did love the dish a lot. Yes, blogging has brought me so many friends.


17 Robyn March 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Hi sunita, just recently found ur blog, and It is wonderful! I love ur beautiful photos! Im south african and its so cool to see our cuisine on ur blog! Makes me realise that im not stranded in the middle of this foreign place that seems to be the blogosphere. Its awesome to see how willing ppl are to connect with and welcome others! xxxChocswirlxxx ps, awesome babotie! it looks perfect!


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