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Bobotie

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Bobotie is a spiced and comforting classic from South Africa made from flavorful curried ground beef and topped with an egg custard layer before being baked with a bay leaf decoration. Served with fun and colorful sides, this rich and savory dinner is a great choice for families looking for a taste of Africa!

two plates piled with bobotie with forks on the side, next to serving dish with spoon

Thank you to Iowa Egg Council for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that support me and allow me to continue to grow my blog. All opinions, recipes and photographs are my own.

I love taking ingredients my kids know and love and finding unexpected ways to use them that gently push the boundaries of what they like to eat. 

My kids LOVE scrambled eggs (especially with a sprinkling of Everything Bagel spice!), and we enjoy eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner often. Most weeks we go through about two dozen eggs (fun fact – did you know that 1 of every 6 eggs produced in the US comes from an Iowa farm?) that we use in a variety of meals. 

The newest way we love to enjoy eggs for dinner is in this South African inspired recipe called Bobotie.

Bobotie is similar to a shepherd’s pie or cottage pie, but instead of being topped with crust or mashed potatoes, this casserole type dish is topped with a rich, custardy egg layer.

serving dish of bobotie next to two plates with servings. Tipped with cashews, apricot jam, cucumbers, and cashews. Small bowls of toppings and forks surround plates.

Eggs are a great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Other amazing family meals that use eggs:

overhead view of enameled cast iron pan with bobotie. Three bay leaves arranged on top and serving spoon is ready to dish up some.

South African Bobotie 

Versions of this dish can be traced all the way back to the ancient Romans, who cooked a dish of layered meat, pine nuts, spices, and topped it all with a layer of eggs and milk. Fast forward a few years and in the 17th century Dutch traders that were part of the Dutch East India Company camped in what is now Cape Town on their way back and forth to Indonesia. The melting of spices, cooking techniques and local ingredients helps shape bobotie into what it is today!

There are of course as many versions of bobotie as there are grandma’s, but every version has six main components – curry, cinnamon, jam (or chutney), raisins, bread soaked in milk (or in our case breadcrumbs), and bay leaves. All of this might sound overwhelming, but the finished dish has mild flavors and is a perfect balance between being flavorfully spiced (but not hot), and sweet.

grey plate with bobotie, yellow rice, sliced cucumbers, cashews and apricot jam. Fork on the side of the plate.

This easy dinner is packed with complex flavors, different textures, and an array of colors, making it an amazing meal that is perfect for families who are looking to break out of their boring weeknight dinner rut. 

Pronounce this meal like “Ba-Boor-Tea” and cook up a fun and delicious meal your family will love! 

large enameled dutch oven filled with bobotie decorated with three bay leaves

How to make beef babotie

This bobotie is simple to make! For the full set of instructions, please scroll down to the recipe card below, but here is an easy overview of how to make this meal:

Note: Make sure you cook this recipe in a cast iron or enameled skillet, or something that can go from the stove top to the oven easily!

  1. Saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink.
  3. Add in the spices, jam, tomato paste, shredded carrots, raisins, breadcrumbs, and broth.
  4. Press the beef mixture down with a spoon or measuring cup until it is evenly spread and will form a nice layer for the egg mixture to sit on.
  5. Whisk together the eggs and milk
  6. Pour the egg mixture over the ground beef mixture and arrange a few bay leaves on top decoratively (you can use between 2 and 4 in any arrangement you want!)
  7. Bake until the egg layer is set and the babotie is bubbly and hot.
  8. Serve with yellow rice with raisins and other toppings like cashews, apricot jam, and sliced cucumbers..

Notes on substitutions: 

  • You can serve this with either cashews or sliced almonds
  • I serve this with apricot jam because it is milder for kids, but if you want a really big treat, try it with mango chutney instead! 
  • You can also switch out the raisins for sultanas.
  • You can change the meat from beef to pork.
  • Serve this with either sliced bananas, pineapple or mango.
collage of pictures showing how to make bobotie

Prepping ahead of time

Babotie is easy to make any night of the week. But if you need it to be even quicker than it is, this recipe is simple to prepare ahead of time. Here are some ideas that you can use to prepare ahead:

  • Measure all the ingredients ahead of time (especially the spices). 
  • Use pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store.
  • You can cook the ground beef mixture ahead of time and store it in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days before completing.
  • Babotie reheats well in the microwave, too!

How to serve this to your family

This meal is great to serve to family members of all ages because you can custom build each plate according to what everyone likes.

Serve this family style with additional sides like yellow rice with raisins, thinly sliced cucumbers, cashews, apricot jam (or mango chutney would be amazing, too!), and a fruit like banana slices, mango, or pineapple. 

Allow each family member to build their own plate, but suggest they pick things in a variety of colors and textures to have a truly complete meal. 

serving dish of bobotie with serving spoon, surrounded by dishes with yellow rice, apricot jam, cashews and sliced cucumbers

How to make this kid friendly 

Babotie is a great kid friendly meal! With pleasing flavors, fun and colorful toppings, and a great variety of textures, this is a great meal that is easy for kids to love. If your littles need some further assistance to be open to trying new things, having them be involved in cooking the meal and in discussing it earnestly are great ways to get them curious, interested, and involved! Which means they will be more likely to try a bite, and like it!

Dinner conversations with kids

Dinner time is an excellent time to talk about food with your kids. And more than just reminding them to take another bite. Use this time to talk about the smells, tastes, and textures of the meal you are eating. Breaking it down into a scientific experiment helps take the emotion out of trying new things. Try these conversation starters: 

  • Smell your meal – can you identify any smells you recognize?
  • Name all the colors you see on your plate. Can you add any other colors?
  • Take a bite of the bobotie by itself. What texture does it have (or can you describe what it feels like in your mouth?). Now try it with some of the different toppings. How did it change? Can you take a bite that has all the different textures in it?
  • You can serve this meal with a variety of different fruits – bananas, mangos, pineapple – which fruit should we serve this with next time we make it?

Read more about how to explore the sense of taste with your kids.

two plates with bobotie, yellow rice, cucumbers and apricot jam. Forks on the top of each plate.

Kids in the kitchen: How your kids can help you cook

Inviting kids into the kitchen with you is a great way to help teach kids important kitchen skills, but also to help them be more interested in actually taking a bite of food – and enjoying it!

This recipe is great for beginner cooks because it is so easy! It is great for learning to measure, crack eggs, whisk liquids, identify new smells and flavors, and in learning how different ingredients flavors work together.

  • Kids aged 1-3 can help you measure ingredients and help set the table with the various toppings. Offer your little ones chances to smell the different spices as you add them to the pan.
  • Kids aged 4-6 can do everything above plus crack the eggs, whisk the eggs and milk together, and help arrange the bay leaves .
  • Kids aged 7-10+ can help you do everything above, plus help you cook the beef mixture and press it down.

*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! Read more about how to have your children help you in the kitchen.

side view of plate with bootie. Fork the side and serving dish in the background

Other family friendly African dinners:

Food tastes better when its shared with the ones you love!

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Yield: 4 Servings

Bobotie Recipe

two plates piled with bobotie with forks on the side, next to serving dish with spoon

Bobotie is a spiced and comforting classic from South Africa made from flavorful curried ground beef and topped with an egg custard layer before being baked with a bay leaf decoration. Served with fun and colorful sides, this is a rich and savory dinner!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup unsalted beef broth
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs 
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon apricot jam
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-4 bay leaves

For Serving

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
    2. Saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes
    3. Cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
    4. Add in the shredded carrots, broth, breadcrumbs, raisins, tomato paste, jam, spices and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
    5. Press the beef mixture down with a spoon or measuring cup until it is evenly spread and will form a nice layer for the egg mixture to sit on.
    6. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
    7. Pour the egg mixture over the ground beef mixture and arrange a few bay leaves on top decoratively (you can use between 2 and 4 in any arrangement you want!)
    8. Bake until the egg layer is set and the babotie is bubbly and hot.
    9. Serve with yellow rice with raisins and other toppings like cashews, apricot jam, and sliced cucumbers.

Notes

Notes on substitutions:

You can serve this with either cashews or sliced almonds
I serve this with apricot jam because it is milder for kids, but if you want a really big treat, try it with mango chutney instead!
You can also switch out the raisins for sultanas.
You can change the meat from beef to pork.
Serve this with either sliced bananas, pineapple or mango.

Notes on Storing:

Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. This meal reheats well.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 613Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 196mgSodium: 685mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 3gSugar: 30gProtein: 35g

Nutrition information is an estimate and is provided for informational purposes only. For the most accurate information, please calculate using your specific brands and exact measurements.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram, and don't forget to tag #gingeredwhisk.

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