Inspiration / Food & Wine

Felicity Cloake's South African Bobotie


Felicity Cloake Felicity Cloake / 03 March 2020
Felicity Cloake's South African Bobotie

Bobotie, pronounced something like bwo-bwo-tee, is one of South Africa's best loved dishes, brought over by Dutch settlers, though the name is thought to be Malay- or Indonesian in origin. It's often described outside its homeland as a South African moussaka, and indeed there are similarities – just like that Greek specialty bobotie is an aromatic bake of minced lamb or beef topped with a layer of custard. But the spicing is more complex than moussaka, with modern recipes generally calling for curry powder, black pepper and lemon leaves (bay are an acceptable substitute), as well as a scattering of dried fruit and nuts, while the custard on top is thinner and less creamy.

Traditionally, like our own shepherd's or cottage pies, bobotie was a Monday dish, designed to use up the leftovers from the Sunday roast, and indeed, if you happen to have cold meat, feel free to use that instead, or to substitute beef, pork or even vegetarian mince for the lamb – endless variations exist in South Africa itself. It is almost always served with "yellow rice" however; long-grain cooked with turmeric and often raisins, though it would also be nice, I think, with mashed sweet potato or roasted squash, and a glass of robust red like a local cabernet sauvignon, whose smoky fruit pairs well with the sweet gaminess of the lamb.

Felicity Cloake's South African Bobotie

Serves 4 with a side dish

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp medium curry powder
  • Generous grind of black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 500g minced lamb, not too lean
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney
  • 50g sultanas or raisins
  • 25g flaked almonds
  • 4 eggs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions until soft and translucent, then stir in the garlic, curry powder, pepper and three bay leaves. Fry for another couple of minutes, then add the sugar and salt. Spoon into a large bowl.

Put the pan back on the heat and turn it up to medium high. Fry the mince, stirring to break it up, until well browned, draining off excess fat if necessary. Meanwhile, soak the bread in the milk and heat the oven to 180C/160C fan.

Turn the heat down and add the vinegar, chutney, sultanas and almonds to the meat with the onion mixture then squeeze the milk out of the bread back into the bowl and crumble the bread into the pan. Spoon the meat into an ovenproof dish, beat one of the eggs and stir in until it's all well mixed.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then beat together the remaining eggs and the milk and season well. Pour on top, add a bay leaf in the middle and bake until just set, about 25-30 minutes. Place briefly under a hot grill to brown the top if you like, then allow to cool slightly before serving.

Wine recommendation

Head to the Cape for reds with voluptuous fruit and hints of black pepper to pair with the beautifully integrated spices of the dish.

Find more of Felicity's recipes here

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.