The Beast from the East inspired me to revisit a recipe from warmer climates and thanks to some spices from the Seasoned Pioneers, I’m going to transport you to Knysna, South Africa reliving flavours and memories of somewhere I spent six months in 2003.
This recipe has been inspired by a travel blog by the Spice Pioneer (more on this next week) about Knysna and his recipe for bobotie. It’s a dish I haven’t eaten for 15 years but I remember loving it. I can’t even remember who introduced it to me but it must have been served at one of our legendary ‘pot-luck’ suppers we used to organise when I was studying a complementary health technique called Body Stress Release in Rondevlei, a magical place not far from Kynsna.
Pronounced ba-boor-tea, the national dish of South Africa is a delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit with a creamy golden topping, not dissimilar to moussaka but without the aubergine and obviously using different spices.
As Delia says “There are important things to say about spices – not just in cakes but in all cooking, namely how to conserve their flavour, particularly once they are ground. There are two enemies of flavour. The first is light, the second is air.
“Spices sold in glass jars are displayed under constantly glaring lights. Then once the jar is opened as more and more is used, it is exposed to more and more air.”
Whilst I’m not about to throw out all the newly purchased spices which I bought from a supermarket and which come in glass jars (my argument is that they’re kept in a dark cupboard anyway), Seasoned Pioneers high-quality spices are the ones I have used in this dish, along with some of my ‘inferior’ supermarket dried herbs too.
Seasoned Pioneers seasonings come cleverly packed in foil packs to shield them from the light. And once you begin to use them, you can reseal them, eliminating any air, which keeps Delia happy! Their rather dinky size also means they don’t take up too much room in your cupboard either.
- 2 slices white bread – torn up
- 200ml milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1kg minced beef
- Seasoned Pioneers Malay curry powder - 2tbs
- 1 tsp Rosemary
- 1 apple - grated
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 3 tablespoons Raisins (optional)
- 4 bay leaves
- Black pepper
- For the topping:
- 300ml full-cream milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon of mustard
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Place the bread into a bowl and pour over the milk. Cover and leave to soak.
- Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and fry the onions until they have softened and are beginning to colour slightly.
- Add the garlic and beef, fry for about another 5 minutes.
- Mix in the Malay curry powder, Rosemary, apple, lemon zest, apricot jam, sultanas and ground bay leaves. Stir and season with a salt and a little black pepper.
- Put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat and allow to cook gently for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the milk and mix thoroughly through the cooking mixture. Pour this mixture into an ovenproof dish and flatten out with a wooden spoon.
- In a medium bowl beat the egg together with the milk and mustard and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour over the meat mixture and place in the oven for approx. 40 minutes until the top has turned golden and is nicely set.
- Serve with Chakalaka and Yellow Rice
If you have any South African dishes you have tasted on your travels, I’d love to hear them. I’d also love to hear what you have been cooking over the last week with the big freeze. Have you been using up food from your store-cupboard and freezer? Why don’t you inspire us with what you have been cooking and share it with us.