One thing I love about watching this soccer tournament is that I inevitably learn a little more about the world. I've brushed up on my geography (where exactly is Slovenia?) and history (both sports and political), as well as my culinary knowledge. When it comes to the nation of South Africa, I learned that its area is roughly twice the size of Texas, and that Nelson Mandela is 91! It also amazed me to think that only 16 years after the end of apartheid, South Africa is hosting a huge global event like the World Cup. Proof that things can turn around fast.
As for this recipe, it appealed to me instantly. It seemed quite similar to Sheperd's Pie (with its spiced meat filling) and Moussaka (with its custard topping), but with a sweet and savory flavor profile that reflects South African tastes. I was pleased by how easy it was to put together. The author of the recipe used ground beef in her version, but noted that it is usually made with lamb. I opted for lean ground turkey--with so much flavor from curry powder, turmeric, chutney, ginger, and more, I didn't see the need to use a fattier meat. I imagine that the most authentic way to do bobotie would be with leftover stewed or roasted lamb, just like you might use for traditional Sheperd's Pie.
The World Cup will be going on until July 11, so you have more than enough time to try a dish from the host nation! I highly recommend this Bobotie. It's fun to make and uses totally familiar ingredients, but you'll get a fantastic taste of South Africa.
Adapted from Lucy Waverman for The Globe & Mail.
This is traditionally served with yellow rice. Click through to the version in the Globe & Mail, for a recipe (if I were you, I'd omit the raisins--there are plenty in the bobotie). I served it with plain steamed basmati rice, but I also think it would pair well with a heartier whole grain, like brown rice or barley, for extra nutrients.
1/2 cup whole milk
2 slices white sandwich bread
2 Tbs safflower or other neutral oil
1 large white onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2-inch long piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp curry powder
1 Tbs turmeric
1 1/4 lb. lean ground turkey
2 Tbs mango chutney
1/3 cup raisins
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
Fat pinch salt
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Pour milk into a shallow bowl and soak bread for 2 minutes, turning once. Squeeze out excess liquid and transfer to a clean bowl or plate; set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, brown sugar, curry powder and turmeric; cook, stirring well, 1 minute. Add the turkey, season with salt and pepper and cook, breaking up the meat as you go, until no longer pink. Add the chutney, raisins, vinegar and tomato paste. Tear the soaked bread into small pieces and add to skillet. Stir to combine and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a 9 x 9-inch (or similar size) baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine all topping ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until very frothy, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over turkey mixture and transfer to oven. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until topping is set and lightly browned (use a thin paring knife to test the consistency of the topping). Rest 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cilantro if using.