My son and I first made Bobotie after studying the country and culture of South Africa as part of our second grade homeschool curriculum. Traditional Bobotie is a tart and savory meat casserole that is baked with an egg custard on top. It is often made with pieces of bread that are soaked in milk. Given that we are gluten and dairy free, we first looked at a selection of traditional recipes, and then made alterations to fit our specific needs. As we eat our way around the world, Bobotie stands out as a new-to-us, easy weeknight meal that is packed with warmth and flavor.
This is a good recipe for those learning to cook. It’s easy and mostly consists of mixing things together.
I have to admit that when I first read through Bobotie recipes, I was bothered by the idea of using apricot jam or jelly with otherwise savory flavors. All I could think of was that episode of Friends where Rachel makes a Thanksgiving trifle, mistakenly mixing ground beef, peas, and carrots, with lady fingers and raspberry jam. Determined to be as close to a traditional Bobotie as possible, we kept the jam. It turned out to be a really pleasing mixture, adding a subtle tartness to the otherwise savory curry and turmeric. I’m glad I didn’t let my hesitation scare me out of trying this seemingly incompatible blend of flavors. It works beautifully.
For this gluten free, dairy free version of Bobotie, we chose to use oat flour instead of bread. You can buy gluten free oat flour at the store, but I find that it’s actually cheaper to make my own. Using either steel cut oats or sprouted rolled oats, I grind them in my blender until I have a fine flour. You could do the same (probably more efficiently) with a food processor as well.
This is what the Bobotie looks like before baking.
This dish can easily be made in one pan if using cast iron or another oven safe pan. Just for looks, we opted for a pie plate, so we prepped everything on the stove top in a separate pan before transferring the ingredients to a pie plate. It made for a little extra mess, but it looked very pretty on the table.
If South African Bobotie is new to you, I hope you’ll give it a try. It was easy to make, presented beautifully on the table, and provided a warm, savory meal that we all enjoyed.
Traditional South African Bobotie (made GF and DF)
– oven safe pan or stove top pan and separate pie plate
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 lb ground beef
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 4 cloves garlic, diced
– 1/2 tsp sea salt
– 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
– 1 tsp curry powder
– 1 tsp turmeric powder
– 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 large carrot, grated
– 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tbsp apricot jam
– 1/4 c golden raisins (optional, but highly encouraged)
– 1/2 c beef stock
– 3 eggs
– 1/2 c oat milk
– 2-5 whole bay leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In an oiled pan over medium heat, brown the ground beef with the chopped onion, diced garlic, salt, and pepper.
3. Once the beef is browned, lower the heat and add the curry powder, turmeric powder, fresh grated ginger, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
4. Add the grated carrot, lemon juice, apricot jam, and golden raisins. Stir to combine.
5. Add the beef stock and oat flour. If the mixture appears dry and crumbly, add a bit more stock. The mixture should appear moist, but should hold together and not be runny.
6. If you are using an oven safe pan, remove the pan from heat. Smooth the mixture out across the bottom of the pan, leaving a flat surface on top. If you would like to use a separate pie plate or other serving dish, transfer the mixture to an oven safe pan now and smooth it out, leaving a flat surface on top.
7. In a separate bowl, mix the three eggs and oat milk.
8. Pour the egg mixture over the flattened meat mixture.
9. Lay the whole bay leaves atop the egg mixture.
10. Bake the Bobotie at 350F for 30-40 minutes. The egg topping should be set and golden brown when done.
11. Enjoy with South African Yellow Rice. We used a recipe like this one, however using what we have available in our kitchen, we used honey instead of sugar and oil instead of butter.