• Wednesday, November 25, 2020

South African Recipes

On Our Radar: South African Cuisine and Wine
December 17, 2014

Admittedly, South African food and wine weren’t on our radar. We live in New York City, where international cuisine reigns, and even here it’s not too common to see a South African restaurant.  As for the wine, most evenings we rarely make it to France on the wine list, if the Brunello in Italy is flowing just right.  But alas, that’s the beauty of travel, which continually opens your eyes to a culture through food. 

We traveled with Completely Unique Safaris (CUS), which hosts just a handful of rare excursions every year, including a $425,000 Safari Seven experience and a whopping $2.2 million dollar honeymoon.  So naturally for that coin, we had a private chef who dealt with our borderline crazy dietary restrictions, the least of which was our gluten sensitivity and no-dairy requests.  Our world was rocked with the fresh oysters they flew in that morning, to serve us in the dark of night under a full moon while we sipped champagne.  We can still taste the langoustine with pesto and tomato sorbet topped with caper berries, and the skate wing with risotto cake accessorized with a rainbow of emulsions and foam.  But it was the evening we were surprised with a Kalahari sunset and campfire, where they brought out a degustation of traditional South African dishes, that stood out.  Maybe it was the cold of night, (or our Midwestern upbringing) but the classic Babotie, a comfort food of sweet and savory sensations that was almost like a bread pudding, was a personal favorite.  CUS was kind enough to share their secret recipe with us, so we’re paying it forward to you. 

We’re also listing the greatest hits of the wine we drank on our trip, and we now have our wine guy Brian DiMarco from Barterhouse on the case to acquire the coveted bottles for us to add to our cellar.  

Traditional Bobotie


1 thick slice of bread without the crust (white or brown)
375 ml milk
25 ml oil
10 ml butter
2 onions sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
25 ml curry powder
10 ml sea salt
25 ml chutney
15 ml smooth apricot jam
15 ml Worcester sauce
5 ml tumeric
25 ml brown sugar
1 kg raw mince meat
100 ml sultanas (don't replace with raisins - they are too sweet)
3 eggs
A pinch each of salt and turmeric
Bay leaves


Recipe serves 8

Soak bread in milk.  Heat oil and butter in a large pan and fry onions and garlic.  When onions are soft, add curry powder, salt, chutney, jam, Worcester sauce, tumeric and vinegar and mix well.  Drain and mash bread and reserve milk.  Add bread to pan together with mince and sultanas.  Cook over low heat, stirring, and when meat loses its pinkness, remove from the stove.  Add 1 beaten egg, mix well and then spoon into a greased, 28 x 16 cm baking dish and level the top.

Beat remaining eggs with reserved milk (you should have 300 ml, or a little more) and the salt and tumeric.  Pour over meat mixture and put a few bay leaves on top.  Stand dish in a larger pan of water (this is important to prevent drying out) and bake, uncovered at 180 degrees Celsius for 1 hour or until set.  

Serve with rice, coconut, chutney, nuts and bananas.

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