The cuisine of South Africa is a melting pot of flavors, aromas and ingredients brought to the country by the several cultural groups that have co-existed together over the past 350 years. Each cultural group made their impact on South African cuisine, making it vibrant and colorful. It’s not much of a surprise that the cuisine of South Africa is called “rainbow cuisine”
The Khoisan, who were the first known inhabitants of South Africa were mainly hunters. Agriculture was introduced to the country by the black people, who grew, sweet potato, squash and maize for their dishes.
Later, the Europeans immigrants brought fish, sausages and introduced vines for wine, which changed the landscape of South Africa in wonderful ways.The Indian and Malaysian slaves imported into the country, added curry and spicy flavorings to the melting pot.
The search of food was actually what shaped modern South Africa. In the mid 1600s, the Dutch East India Company was drawn to Java in search of spices. The need for a stopover halfway through the journey brought the Company to the Cape and impelled them to plant a farm at the tip of Africa. This farm changed this region forever.
The Company realized it was easier and cheaper to bring thousands of slaves from Java to work in the fields in South Africa than the local people. The Malay slaves brought with them their cuisine and till today is probably the best known of all South African cooking styles.
This kaleidoscope of food and cooking styles shows what an incredible rich and delicious history South Africa has had. Today with it’s colorful range of cuisines, South African food provides a flavor, an aroma, a dish for anyone keen to discover more about the food of South Africa.
Bobotie is very similar to shepherd's pie – only better. Declared as the national dish of South Africa in 1954, Bototie has a varied heritage. Ground meat was brought to the country by the Dutch while the spices were introduced by the Indonesian slaves.
Bobotie uses a lot of flavors from the spice cupboard - cumin, coriander and turmeric all spice up the mince. Chutney, almonds and sultanas add a delicious fruity sweetness and the masala, which includes dried chillies, peppercorns, ground ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods, gives it a slight fiery note. Finally it is topped with a savory custard instead of mashed potatoes.
A little while back my stunning sister-from-another-mother, Jeanne sent me a most delightful and an incredibly aromatic package filled to the brim with South African goodies. There was everything from spiced green tea, dried mango (I hid it and did not share any of it – ate it all by myself), and spices. Spices for a bobotie. It was at that moment I decided the theme to this month’s Monthly Mingle
South African Bobotie
Printable version of recipe here
500g lean minced beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cm fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp Garam Masala
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
50g dried apricots, chopped
25g almonds, flaked
50g yellow raisins
3 tbsp mango chutney – usually made with apricot chutney, I had mango on hand
handful parsley, chopped
4 bay leaves
250 ml milk
3 Large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly butter an ovenproof dish or individuals bowls
- Heat the butter in a saucepan and sauté the onions until soft. Set aside.
- In a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat fry the ground beef, without any oil, until golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the onions.
- Mix in all the other ingredients – spices, herbs, dried fruit, nuts and chutney - except the milk and eggs. Stir to mix everything well and put into ovenproof bowls or a large ovenproof dish. Press the mixture down with the back of a spoon to even the mixture out.
- Lightly beat milk and eggs together, then pour over the mince mixture. Bake for 20–25 minutes for small individual boboties and 30–40 minutes for a large one. The topping should be set and golden brown.
The first time I had bobotie was a few years ago, when a South African friend from Pretoria cooked up this delicious meal. She served it with turmeric rice and a banana chutney. When Tom heard what she was making that evening – he looked at me and said “Should I eat a Wiener before we go?” expecting the wild fusion of flavors not to appeal to his palate. But boy was he wrong! It tasted incredible and I asked for the recipe. She wrote it down for me in her neat handwriting and it is this recipe I share with you. I served this bobotie with saffron rice and chunky mango chutney. The perfect meal!
Unfortunately I lost all contact with my friend I., who moved back to Pretoria – the last I heard from her was an email telling me how she loved living out in the South African wilderness, building a tourist resort with her own hands and watching her little boy play with the monkeys. I wonder if she realizes the impression her bobotie left on us.
There’s still plenty of time as the deadline is on May 10th. I’ve been getting some incredible entries and can’t wait to share the food with you.
If you need inspiration turn to Jeanne’s South African Food page for a wide array of South African dishes
Just 30 days till the Food Blogger Connect this June 5-6. Can you believe how fast time flies? Well if you have not already please take a moment and check out the exciting itinerary, then see who’s speaking, then check out the lavish location and finally – BOOK THOSE TICKETS! I hear there are only a few left. I’d love to see you all there and hope you will enjoy the photography session, where Bea, Mowie and myself are teaming up to present you with a few great topics on Food Photography and Styling and live demos.
More international cuisine from WFLH:
|Chickpea Pumpkin Tajine with Coconut Couscous & Coconut Chutney||Chicken Tikka Masala||Coconut Cashew Chicken Satay|
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