If South Africa has a national dish, it might well be bobotie, a ground (mince) meat pie, subtly flavored and topped with an egg custard as you see below.
Many diners at our South African wine dinner last evening requested the recipe for my bobotie and so here is the basic idea. Two things to remember: we made at least 10 times the following recipe and while I wrote a basic formula to cook by, in the end, we adjusted the seasoning to our liking by taste and not by formula. Of course, that is true for every dish we make and should be no surprise to anyone who cooks.
1 medium red onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 tart apple (we used Yorks), peeled and diced
2 ounces hearty French bread in small pieces, soaked in heavy cream
2 tablespoons Madras-style curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, roughly ground
1/2 teaspoon allspice, ground
1/4 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
zest and juice of one lemon
2 bay leaves
1 cup heavy cream
Heat your oven to medium, about 350F. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on high flame and film it with vegetable oil. Sauté the onions until just starting to brown around the edges, three to four minutes. Reserve the onions in a large mixing bowl. Next, sweat the garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes and reserve to the mixing bowl. Add the ground meats to the pan, breaking it up thoroughly. When browned, drain off the fat, and add the meat to the mixing bowl.
Squeeze any excess cream from the bread and add the bread along with the apple, spices, almonds, and dried fruit to the meat and onions. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Add the egg and mix very well.
Pack the meat mixture into a well oiled small casserole dish and tuck the bay leaves into the top of the meat. Bake until firm and set, about 40-45 minutes, then remove the bay. Mix the egg and heavy cream and pour on top of the meat mixture. You may need more egg and cream mixture to cover the meat depending on the size of your casserole. Return to the oven and bake until golden and puffed. Let cool for at least 45 minutes so that you can slice it for serving.