Updated: Jan 22
Bobotie is the official South African National Dish. Thought to have been brought to South Africa by Asian settlers, bobotie is cooked in many homes and restaurants. Minced meat is simmered with spices, usually curry powder, herbs and dried fruit, then topped with a mixture of egg and milk and baked until set.
South African cuisine includes both cookery practiced by indigenous people of Africa such as the Sotho- and Nguni-speaking people, and different styles of cookery that emerged from several waves of colonisation and immigration introduced during the colonial period. The colonial influences include that of white European people of mostly Dutch, German, French and British descent and their Indo-Asian slaves or servants. The latter includes the cuisine of the "Cape Malay" people, which has many characteristics of Indonesia.
Indigenous cookery In the precolonial period, indigenous cuisine was characterised by the use of a very wide range of foods including fruits, nuts, bulbs, leaves and other products gathered from wild plants and by the hunting of wild game. The introduction of domestic cattle and grain crops by Bantu speakers who arrived in the southern regions from central Africa since 10,000 BC and the spread of cattle keeping to Khoisan groups enabled products and the availability of fresh meat on demand.
The pre-colonial diet consisted primarily of cooked grains, especially sorghum and millet, fermented milk (somewhat like yogurt) and roasted or stewed meat. At some point, maize replaced sorghum as the primary grain, and there is some dispute as to whether maize, a Central American crop, arrived with European settlers (notably the Portuguese) or spread through Africa before white settlement via Africans returning from the Americas during the era of the slave trade. People also kept sheep and goats, and communities often organised vast hunts for the abundant game, but the beef was considered the absolutely most important and high-status meat. The ribs of any cattle that were slaughtered in many communities were so prized that they were offered to the chief of the village.
In many ways, the daily food of South African families can be traced to the indigenous foods that their ancestors ate. A typical meal in a Bantu-speaking, South African household is a stiff, fluffy porridge of maize meal (called "pap," and very similar to American grits) with a flavorful stewed meat gravy. Traditional rural families (and many urban ones) often ferment their pap for a few days – especially if it is sorghum instead of maize – which gives it a tangy flavour. The Sotho-Tswana call this fermented pap, "ting." The vegetable is often some sort of pumpkin, varieties of which are indigenous to South Africa, although now many people eat pumpkins that originated in other countries. Rice and beans are also very popular even though they are not indigenous. Another common vegetable dish, which arrived in South Africa with its many Irish immigrants, but which has been adopted by South Africans, is shredded cabbage and white potatoes cooked with butter. For many South Africans meat is the center of any meal. The Khoisan ate roasted meat, and they also dried meat for later use. The influence of their diet is reflected in the common Southern African love of barbecue (generally called in South Africa by its Afrikaans name, a "braai") and biltong (dried preserved meat). As in the past, when men kept cattle as their prized possession in the rural areas, South Africans have a preference for beef. Today, South Africans enjoy not only beef, but mutton, goat, chicken and other meats as a centerpiece of a meal.
On weekends, many South African families have a "braai," and the meal usually consists of "pap and vleis", which is maize meal and grilled meat. Eating meat even has a ritual significance in both traditional and modern South African culture. In Bantu culture, for weddings, initiations, the arrival of family members after a long trip and other special occasions, families will buy a live animal and slaughter it at home, and then prepare a large meal for the community or neighbourhood. Participants often say that spilling the blood of the animal on the ground pleases the ancestors who invisibly gather around the carcass. On holiday weekends, entrepreneurs will set up pens of live animals along the main roads of townships—mostly sheep and goats—for families to purchase, slaughter, cook and eat. Beef being the most prized meat, for weddings, affluent families often purchase a live steer for slaughter at home. Vegetarianism is generally met with puzzlement among Black South Africans, although most meals are served with vegetables such as pumpkin, beans and cabbage.
Our slow cooker / Insta Pot version is traditional in ingredients, spices and flavors. We have designed this recipe to ensure we keep it clean eating, diabetic, keto/paleo and gluten-free. We have eliminated the "bread" and added sweet potato to ensure we meet those guidelines.
Ingredients - 4 Servings
1 lbs Organic 85% Lean Ground Beef
4 cloves Organic garlic
1 cup Organic onion
1 lbs Organic sweet potato
1/2 lbs Organic carrots
1 TBSP Organic Malay curry
1 tsp Organic cumin
1 tsp Organic Ginger
1 TBSP Organic coriander
1/2 cup Organic apricots or chutney
1/4 cup Organic raisins
1 TBSP Organic olive oil
1 tsp Organic paprika
1 tsp Organic cinnamon
1 tsp Organic turmeric
1 tsp Organic thyme
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP Organic tomato paste 1 tsp Finely ground sea salt 1 tsp Medium ground pepper
1 cup Organic beef stock
Custard Top - Beat together and then Bake for 50 mins in oven 1½ cups milk 4 eggs 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves