Recipe for hearty Bobotie Pies – a fantastic twist on an old South African favourite

2 tbs cooking oil
250g beef mince
250g lamb mince (or replace with beef)
1 cup finely chopped onions
1¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp powdered ginger
2½ tsp medium-strength curry powder (I prefer good ol’ Rajah)
1 slice crustless white bread, soaked in a ¼ cup milk
1 sachet good liquid beef stock (I used Woolworths’ Demi Glacé Concentrate Beef Stock)
grated zest of one lemon
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbs brown grape vinegar
4 tbs fine apricot jam
¾ cup water
½ cup seedless raisins
¼ cup blanched almonds (i.e. no skin) plus 6 extra for on top
1 cup buttermilk (or natural yoghurt)
2 extra large eggs
3 bay leaves, cut in half lengthwise
phyllo pastry
¼ cup melted butter

How to
Fry the onions in the oil until golden brown. Add the spices and fry for a few seconds. Add the meat and fry, stirring until caramelised and brown. (Add a bit of extra oil to the pan if it gets too dry.)

Add the beef stock, bread, lemon zest, salt, pepper, jam and vinegar as well as the water. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the raisins and almonds for the last 5 minutes of cooking. The meat mixture should be nice and thick. If it’s still watery, simply boil for a minute or two with the lid off.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Paint the muffin tins with melted butter. Lay out one sheet of phyllo pastry and paint it with the melted butter. Cover with another sheet and pain this one as well. Continue this process twice more until you have four layers of pastry stuck together with the melted butter.

Now cut this sheet into squares large enough to protrude 1.5cm past the edge of the muffin cups. (I find scissors work better than a knife.)

Line the cups with the pastry. Fill the cups ¾ way with the meat mixture, then top off with a large spoonful of the egg mix. Stick half a bay leaf in each muffin cup and top with an almond for the pretty. Bake in a 175 degree Celsius oven until the eggy mixture is cooked through, golden and puffed up – about 25-35 minutes.

Serve immediately with Mrs Ball’s chutney and an old-fashioned tomato and onion salad. If you’re using a large muffin tin, this mixture makes six individual bobotie-phyllo pies.

Old-fashioned tomato salad:
I make it the way grandma did – with just ripe red tomatoes, finely sliced onion, the merest splash of red wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. That’s it. Let it stand at room temperature for half an hour before serving.

If you want to serve these bobotie cups as a light main, bulk it up with yellow rice. If you want a more substantial meal and think this quantity meat should serve only four, simply spoon the meat mix into an ovenproof baking dish, top with the egg mix, push in the bay leaves and bake as normal until golden on top.

Recipe by Lizet Hartley, courtesy of Melkkos & Merlot, a bilingual blog about food.

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