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Jakarta Post

Bobotie'€™s melting pot

  • Theodora Hurustiati

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Sun, November 10, 2013   /  04:10 pm
Bobotie'€™s melting pot

Most of us are probably unaware that one of South Africa'€™s favorite dishes has an Indonesian connection.

My editor, Bruce, whose paternal roots are South African, told me over a Sunday brunch meeting about this dish that his mom used to make. Bobotie'€™s origin is believed to be Indonesian, precisely, Javanese. It was inspired by bobotok, or botok, and was fi rst introduced by Javanese slaves, brought to South Africa through Cape Town by the Dutch East India Company in the 1600s.

Later on, a signifi cant number of workers from different regions of Southeast Asia were brought in and became a community known nowadays as the Cape Malay ethnic group, the name referring to the Malay they spoke. Stories of origins of food from around the world always fascinate me, particularly if it'€™s a cross-cultural product. I just had to make Bobotie '€“ Java, the Netherlands and South Africa, all in one pot! '€“ which is one of South Africa'€™s culinary standouts.

Serves 6
'€¢ 600 g minced beef
'€¢ 50 g butter
'€¢ 1/2 (50 g) onion, fi nely diced
'€¢ 1 clove garlic, fi nely chopped
'€¢ 20 g fresh ginger, fi nely grated
'€¢ 8 bay leaves
'€¢ 3 cloves
'€¢ 4 teaspoons Madras curry powder
'€¢ 1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
'€¢ 1 green apple, coarsely grated
'€¢ 2 slices (60 g) white bread
'€¢ 100 ml milk
'€¢ Ground black pepper, to taste
'€¢ Salt, to taste Coating
'€¢ 300 ml milk
'€¢ 2 eggs

Tear bread in small pieces and soak in milk. Melt butter in a large pan over a low heat. Put in onions, garlic, ginger, cloves and two bay leaves; sweat for about 2-3 minutes until the color changes. Add  turmeric and curry powder, cook for one minute until fragrant.

Insert beef mince, salt, and pepper. Turn up the heat and sizzle until the meat cooks through. Add apple and cook until it'€™s wilted. Finally, add bread along with the soaking milk and cook for another minute. Remove bay leaves and cloves.

Divide the cooked mince beef in 6 lightly buttered individual ramekins, leaving 1/4 of the edges free. Arrange ramekins in a deep oven tray fi lled with 2-centimeter high of water.

Beat eggs into milk and pour over the ramekins to cover the meat. You should have about 5-mm layer of coating on each one. Garnish with the remaining bay leaves and a pinch of black pepper.

Carefully transfer the tray into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 160°C (with fan) or 180°C (traditional), until the topping turns golden.

Serve hot with turmeric rice and apricot chutney.

'€¢ 2 cups (300 g) basmati or other long
grain rice
'€¢ 4 cups (600 ml) water
'€¢ 50 g butter, cut into small cubes
'€¢ 1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
'€¢ 6 cloves
'€¢ 6 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
'€¢ 1 cinnamon stick (10 g)
'€¢ 1 teaspoon salt

Rinse and drain rice twice to wash away the excess starch. Place in a deep pan, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover with lid and cook over medium heat until the liquid comes to boil.

Lower the flame to minimum and simmer until the rice absorbs all the water. Turn the heat off and rest for 15 minutes, still covered with the lid. Fluff the rice with fork and serve.

'€¢ 50 g dried apricots
'€¢ 100 ml hot water
'€¢ 1 (10 g) shallot, fi nely diced
'€¢ 1-2 fresh red chilies, deseeded and
fi nely diced
'€¢ 25 g cane sugar
'€¢ 3 teaspoons apple vinegar
'€¢ 3 cloves
'€¢ Salt

Rehydrate apricots with water and let soak for 30 minutes.

Cut the apricots in small pieces and blend with the soaking liquid in a mixer until smooth.

Place in a saucepan along with the rest of the ingredients. Simmer over a low heat for 20-30 minutes until it thickens and resembles a jam in consistency.

Jakarta-born chef Theodora Hurustiati, a 11-year resident of Udine, Italy, was the runner-up in the TV cooking program La Scuola '€“ Cucina di Classe (The School: Classy Cooking) in 2011.

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