Everyone who loves the Sounders, Seattle’s own soccer team, will soon be watching the start of the World Cup in South Africa. The big question being asked, besides will the US beat the UK, is what to serve while watching the games.
Well, don’t worry – South African cuisine is one of the most varied in the world. Sometimes called the “rainbow cuisine” by knowledgeable chefs, its many different dishes easily equals the complexity of both American and Chinese cuisine.
The indigenous people of South Africa established a firm culinary foundation highlighting local healthy regional foods. Several waves of immigrations added Indian, Dutch and British accents. Household slaves and servants from Malaysia and Java added the final culinary touches.
One popular dish that reflects these combined culinary influences is Bobotie. Similar in many ways to an American meatloaf, it blends English and Dutch traditions with East Indian spices and local ingredients in a manner uniquely South African.
If you doubt that it’s a true culinary treasure worth trying, just consider that Bobotie has already jumped the Atlantic having been served at the 2008 Masters “Champions Dinner” in Atlanta, Georgia when golf’s best players honored Trevor Inmelman.
So whether you like golf or soccer, treat your family to Bobotie and you’re sure to be cheered as a true culinary champion! Enjoy the games!
Bobotie (Baked Ground Lamb Curry with Custard Topping) – Serves 6
1 slice white bread, 1 inch thick, broken into small pieces
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds ground lean lamb
1½ cups finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh lemon juice, no seed please
1 medium-sized tart cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely grated
½ cup seedless raisins
¼ cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
4 small bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees (F).
Combine the bread and milk in a small bowl and let the bread soak for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat.
When the butter’s foam begins to subside, add the lamb and cook it, stirring constantly. Mash any lumps with the back of a spoon, until the meat separates into granules and no traces of pink remain.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb into a deep bowl.
Pour off and discard all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet and drop in the onions.
Stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown.
Watch carefully for any sign of burning and regulate heat accordingly.
Add the curry powder, sugar, salt and pepper, and stir for 1 or 2 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat.
Pour the entire mixture into the bowl of lamb.
Drain the bread in a sieve over a bowl and squeeze the bread completely dry.
Reserve the drained milk.
Add the bread, 1 of the eggs, the apple, raisins, and almonds to the lamb.
Knead vigorously with both hands or beat with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well combined.
Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired.
Pack the lamb mixture loosely into a 3-quart soufflé dish or other deep 3-quart baking dish, smoothing the top with a spatula.
Tuck the bay leaves beneath the surface of the meat.
With a wire whisk or rotary beater, beat the remaining 2 eggs with the reserved milk for about 1 minute, or until they froth.
Slowly pour the mixture evenly over the meat and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the custard is a light golden brown.
Serve at once, directly from the baking dish.
Note: Bobotie is traditionally accompanied by hot boiled rice.