In my experience, bobotie is a little bit like opera. Few folks seem to be neutral about it. They either love it or loathe it. I happen to be rather partial to both.
Growing up, bobotie was very much a ‘special occasion’ dish – for high days, holidays and, rather bizarrely, funerals. And that’s just silly because few things could be easier to make for a weekday meal than this South African classic. Soak a slice or two of white bread in milk, add a few mild spices, chopped onion, raisins, blanched almonds and mince and chuck the lot in an ovenproof dish. Pour over some egg and milk, stud with a few bay and lemon leaves and in the oven it goes. It practically makes itself.
Lazy cook heaven but, served with the obligatory yellow rice heady with cinnamon and plumped-up raisin jewels (plus home-made apricot chutney of course), it’s a thing of beauty. I get that my singing its praises is not enough and that there are skeptics among us who need to be won over. So I put on my apron and rustled up something with a bit of a twist…
…All the lovely nostalgic flavours of bobotie, encased in a crisp samoosa wrapper. Combine it with my quick, sweet ’n sour apricot dipping sauce with almond sprinkles and you’ve got yourself a rocking little party/rugby/movie-night-in snack. Go on bobotie haters, I dare you.
All you need is…
For the bobotie filling
2 tbs canola oil
1 large onion, very finely chopped
1 tsp medium-strength curry powder (I used Rajah)
½ tsp turmeric
500g beef mince
1 bay leaf
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs chutney (I used Mrs Ball’s, a South African classic I simply refuse to be without)
2 tbs raisins
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup water
samoosa pastry sheets
one egg white, whisked
For the apricot dipping sauce
3 tbs smooth apricot jam
2½ tbs red wine vinegar
5 tbs water
pinch of salt
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbs blanched almonds
For the bobotie: Fry onion in 2 tbs oil over medium heat until translucent (take care not to burn it). Add curry powder and turmeric and fry for 30 seconds. Add mince (and a bit more oil if needed) and fry until mince is crumbly and nicely brown. Add the rest of the filling ingredients along with a cup of water. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Stir and check on the water from time to time, but take care not too add too much. You need to end up with a dry mince mix. Allow the mince to cool slightly.
Take one rectangular samoosa sheet (about 5cm wide by 15cm long) and brush the side facing up with egg white. Place a tablespoon of mince mix close to one corner and fold pastry corner over it in a triangle shape. Continue rolling over until all the pastry is used up and you have a perfect little triangular samoosa.
(See TIPS, TRICKS & TRIVIA below for more pastry and folding options.) Fry a few samoosas at a time in medium-hot oil of at least 4cm deep until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen towel and serve immediately with warm apricot dipping sauce.
For the apricot dipping sauce: Toast almonds in a dry frying pan until golden, remove and chop finely. Add the jam, water, vinegar, salt and chilli to a small pot and heat until the jam is melted.