Bobotie beef mince

Bobotie is a kind of fruity, herby meatloaf with a curried custard topping, of Cape Malay origin. Sounds odd but tastes great! All southern Africans have their own recipe for this; ours is a classical recipe but with a heap of local advice thrown in.

A golden brown baked dish, partially served with a wooden spoon, reveals layers of ingredients. This Beef Mince Bobotie, inspired by the Hairy Bikers Cookbook, includes a mix of vegetables and meat, all elegantly topped with bay leaves.

Bobotie beef mince dish


About 20
Prep time
Less then 30 minutes
Cooking time
1 to 2 hours


For the meat

  • a thumbnail-sized piece of tamarind pod
  • 285ml / 1/2 pint good-quality red wine
  • 3kg / 6.5lb best beef mince (for best results, get good rump steak and mince it yourself)
  • 250g / 9oz blanched almonds
  • 24 black peppercorns, crushed
  • a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 hot chillies, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of marjoram, leaves only
  • 20 coriander seeds, crushed
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • one lemon, grated zest only
  • handful of sultanas
  • 285ml / 1/2 pint double cream
  • 125gm / 4oz unsalted butter, softened
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 bay leaves
  • cumin seeds, for sprinkling
  • butter, for greasing

For the custard topping

  • 565ml / 1 pint milk
  • 10 eggs, whisked
  • 2 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

  2. Soak the tamarind pod in the wine to allow it to soften and dissolve slightly.

  3. Place the beef into a clean bowl along with the following ten ingredients from the ingredients list. Knead the meat and spices together thoroughly - don't be shy, get stuck in.

  4. Add the tamarind and red wine mixture, then add the cream, 125g/4oz butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roll the bay leaves up and 'plant' them like seedlings in the meatloaf.

  5. Butter the sides and bottom of an earthenware pot large enough to hold the meat with plenty of room to spare. Sprinkle the inside with the cumin seeds. Place the meatloaf into the preheated oven for about one hour, until slightly risen and cooked through.

  6. For the custard topping, whisk together the milk and the eggs. Add the curry powder, salt to taste and whisk again.

  7. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and carefully pour the custard mixture over the top. Return it to the oven and bake until the custard topping has set and cooked to a golden brown colour. You can finish it off with a blowtorch if it looks a bit anaemic. Finish with a flourish of freshly grated nutmeg.