An intriguing recipe handed down by Tommi’s mischievous nanna Mimi – a sort of South African, spicy version of shepherd’s pie called bobotie.
My maternal grandmother was known for being a tiddlywinks demon, having the naughtiest twinkle in her eye and, whenever she went home to South Africa, for disappearing into the bush to hang out with Zulu tribespeople – the people with whom she seemed to feel most at home. Her stories of her time there were always captivating, and of the recipes she made that were both homely and exotic, this was one of the best.
Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – this is essentially a South African shepherd’s pie, only easier, with some lovely spicing thrown in.
Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr 15 min
Butter, for greasing
4 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, peeled and chopped
Salt and black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
1½ tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp curry powder
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp garam masala
1kg beef or lamb mince
100ml red-wine or cider vinegar
100g flaked almonds
50g fresh breadcrumbs
75g fruit chutney (I like Tracklements’ Country Garden Chutney)
For the topping
500ml whole milk
3 bay leaves
Grease a large baking dish and heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4. Warm a large, wide casserole pot over a medium heat and, when hot, add three tablespoons of oil.
Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sweat for 10 minutes, until soft. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves and spices and cook for another three to four minutes, until fragrant. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When hot, season the meat with salt and pepper, and brown in the pan in two or three batches, breaking up the meat with a spoon and cooking until caramelised and dark. Once all the meat is browned, return the onion mixture to the pan and add the vinegar, almonds and raisins.
Turn the heat down to low and simmer for five minutes, to allow the flavours to mingle. Take off the heat, stir in the breadcrumbs and chutney and check the seasoning. Transfer to the baking dish, smooth over with the back of a spoon and leave to cool for five to 10 minutes.
To make the topping, beat together the eggs and milk and pour over the meat. Scatter over the bay leaves, then bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden and the custard just set. This is delicious served with brown rice and some greens.
And for the rest of the week
Leftover flaked almonds make the best biscuits. I love florentines, or you could mix them with honey and a little butter for a crunchy topping for shortbread. Leftover bobotie makes a killer filling for a jacket potato, so don’t eat it all at once.
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