Bobotie--Traditional South African Casserole

Have you ever had traditional South African food? Of course, that's a loaded question. With South Africa's history and the different cultural influences on its cuisine, what is truly traditional? Mostly we're looking at the Dutch influence, a cuisine that's been informed by other cultures too. But, I suppose you could say this about the traditional cooking of any country. So let's move forward. 

A few years ago, I wrote about the book club that Dewey and I belong to, and I explained that for our meetings we bring a dish to share that connects to the book in some way. This is one of those dishes, the South African Bobotie. The book meeting that I prepared it for was for one of our favorite books, Hero of the Empire. a non-fiction account of Winston Churchill's rise to fame and his participation in the Boer War. Researching traditional South African dishes was great fun. 

Bobotie was the dish that popped up over and over, and that's the one that I brought to our delicious book club meeting. A couple of years later, in a quite unrelated location--the island of Kefalonia--I met a Greek man who lived part-time in Greece and part in South Africa. I asked him about Bobotie, and he confirmed that it was a traditional dish that was popular everywhere in South Africa. Here's my recipe.

While I found many recipes for this easy-to-prepare casserole, I ended up working with a couple of them to come up with my own. Quite honestly, while there are probably endless variations, there are common ingredients found in all recipes, and the method is quite similar. This is mine.

Served with pickled vegetables like sauerkraut (on the side) or with a vinegary green salad, the rich consistency of Bobotie is toned down and balanced for a perfect meal. It may seem exotic, but it has a very comforting and familiar taste. I hope you'll give it a try.

Delicious pairing of Bobotie with green salad and a South African
pickled carrot salad with Sambal.


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