Image via Wikipedia

A South African favourite: Traditional bobotie with fragrant yellow rice

Bobotie is a mildly curried and spicy ground meat casserole covered with an egg custard and is baked to golden perfection.


Image via Wikipedia

There is more than one theory to where the word bobotie comes from. Some argue that the name comes from the Malayan word boemboe, which translates to “curry spices”. Yet others are of the opinion that it refers to the Indonesian bobotok dish, which consists of meat with a custard topping. The first recipe for bobotie appeared in a Dutch cookbook in 1609. Dutch settlers introduced it to South Africa in the 17th century and it was adopted by the Cape Malay community.

This traditional South African favourite is easy to make and a perfect choice for a quick Sunday meal or to warm up your family on a cold night. Make this bobotie with yellow rice and serve with your choice of sides. I suggest serving it with greens, sweet pumpkin fritters, sambals, banana, chutney or coconut.

This recipe can easily be doubled and makes an excellent freezer meal. For a Banting option the bobotie can be made without the bread, carrot, sugar, jam and sauces (unless they are Banting friendly).

Traditional Bobotie with Fragrant Yellow Rice

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Lichelle Hawthorne Course: MainDifficulty: Easy
Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • 500 g 500 ground beef, you can use lamb or ostrich if you wish

  • 2 Tbsp 2 oil

  • 1 large 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 large 1 carrot or apple, peeled and grated

  • 1 thick slice of white bread soaked in milk

  • 1 Tbsp 1 lemon juice or vinegar

  • A handful of almond slivers or flakes

  • 2 to 3 bay leaves

  • 2 tsp 2 curry powder

  • 1 tsp 1 ground coriander

  • 1 tsp 1 turmeric powder

  • 1 tsp 1 sugar

  • 1 tsp 1 salt

  • 1 Tbsp 1 apricot jam

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Worcestershire sauce (optional)

  • 1 Tbsp 1 chutney (optional)

  • 1 Tbsp 1 tomato sauce (optional)

  • Extra seasoning of your choice

  • Custard
  • 250 ml 250 milk or buttermilk

  • 2 eggs

  • Yellow rice
  • 1 cup 1 rice

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tsp 1 turmeric powder

  • 1 Tbsp 1 butter

  • ¼ a cup raisins or sultanas

  • ½ a cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon powder


  • Fry the onion and garlic in the oil then add the ground meat. Add the curry, salt, sugar, coriander and turmeric and cook the meat until brown, crumble the meat with a fork or spoon to separate big lumps.
  • Add the carrot, then mix through the jam, sauces and lemon juice. Add the soaked bread, making sure to break it up and mix it properly. Spoon the mixture into an ovenproof dish and smooth the mixture.
  • Custard
  • Lightly whisk the milk or buttermilk and eggs. Pour the mixture over the meat. Scatter the nuts over the top and stick the bay leaves decoratively into the meat.
  • Bake at 180°C for 30 to 40 minutes, the egg custard should be set and golden brown.
  • Yellow rice
  • Rinse the rice.
  • In a pot, bring water to a boil and add the rice.
  • Add the salt, turmeric, cinnamon and the raisins and turn down the heat.
  • If you do not like cooked raisins, add them with the butter at the end. I like to add dried cranberries instead.
  • Simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and dry.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick, add the butter and fluff the rice lightly with a fork before turning it into a dish to serve.

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