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A fusion of spices and styles, bobotie is South Africa’s signature dish, fiery, sweet and tart all at once. It is typically served with yellow rice and made with lamb, not beef.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

When the World Cup was on in South Africa, I consulted Karrie Weinstock, the South-African-born principal of Branksome Hall, an independent girls' school in Toronto, to get some traditional recipes from that country. She was kind enough to share the following dishes, which come from her friend Linda van der Meer of Heritage Guest House in Queenstown. "She is a fabulous cook and these recipes have been in her family for generations," Weinstock told me.

I have adapted them here for Canadian cooks.

Bobotie is the country's signature dish. Like much of South Africa's cooking, it's a fusion of spices and styles, fiery, sweet and tart all at once. It is always served with yellow rice (see recipe below) and is often made with lamb, not beef.

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Servings: 6


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups chopped onions

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon curry powder or 1 tablespoon Indian curry paste

1 tablespoon turmeric

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1½ pounds (750 grams) ground beef

2 slices white bread soaked in milk, squeezed dry and crumbled

2 tablespoons mango chutney

½ cup raisins

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon apricot jam or orange marmalade

2 tablespoons tomato paste


1½ cups milk

2 eggs

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind


Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened (about 3 minutes). Add ginger, sugar, curry paste and turmeric and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add ground beef and sauté for 2 minutes or until it starts to lose its pinkness. Add crumbled bread, chutney, raisins, vinegar, apricot jam and tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes or until flavours have come together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a greased ovenproof casserole.

Beat together eggs, milk, salt and grated lemon rind and pour over meat mixture. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is set.

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