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South African Bobotie

Bobotie – A Classic South African Recipe

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Rebecca Bourhill
  • Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


This classic dish from South Africa, Bobotie (pronounced ba-bo-tea), is made with ground beef seasoned to perfection, and a creamy, decadent topping. It is rich, savory, spicy, aromatic, and zingy. A comforting meal, full of the flavors of Africa!


Units Scale
  • 3 slices of bread
  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs (whatever you’ve got around – oregano, basil, marjoram, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup fruit chutney
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam
  • Zest and juice of one medium lemon, divided
  • 4 teaspoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 bay leaves


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Soak the bread in 1 cup of milk.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, and cook until soft.
  4. Add the curry powder, mixed herbs, ground cumin, turmeric, and garlic, and stirring constantly, allow to cook for a minute or two until the garlic is soft.
  5. Add the ground beef, and cook, stirring frequently to break up any big chunks, until browned.
  6. Once the beef is browned, remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the chutney, apricot jam, all the lemon zest, half the lemon juice, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, give it a taste, and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as desired. It should be delightfully zingy!
  7. Squeeze the milk from the bread, reserving the milk for later, and smooshing and tearing the bread into small pieces. Mix the bread into the beef mixture, and spread evenly into an oven-proof dish.
  8. Strain the milk that has come from the bread, and add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Beat in the eggs, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour this over the meat, and decoratively scatter the bay leaves on top.
  9. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.


In my opinion, it is the curry powder and the bay leaves that impact the flavor of this dish most – so use the best quality that you can.

I like to prepare and bake this recipe in a cast iron skillet – it can go from stovetop to oven, and even looks beautiful on the table. Plus it makes for fewer dishes to wash later!

If you would like to learn a bit more about South African cuisine, hop over to Rebecca’s article all about it at A Taste Of South Africa.

Are you interested in trying more African recipes? This recipe for Kenyan Beef Curry is a favorite and goes perfectly with Ugali, a Kenyan cornmeal dish.

Would you like to make your own fruit chutney from scratch? Check out our recipe for Mango & Pineapple Chutney!

  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: South Africa
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