Bobotie recipes

Bobotie recipes are red meat dishes but by substituting half the beef with some chickpeas and vegetables you can turn them into perfectly nourishing meals.

Well, nearly perfect might be more honest; the traditional Malay recipe of red meat, white bread, spices, eggs and milk I cannot recommend, I am afraid.

Beef eating corn in a feedlot, never having seen a blade of grass, invites many questions; pastures are their normal habitat.

Bobotie, hot and spicy.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 1st November, 2019.

There are serious concerns about the status of beef but the fact of the matter is that we personally continue to enjoy it despite the warning from the World Health Organisation that it is probably tumour-forming; under certain conditions.

Much concerns how it is cooked and what you have with it. Notice the dark crust that looks so scrumptious; that is because of the free-range eggs used. 

Bobotie recipes make a good protein source; Bernard Preston reduces the amount of red meat, and substitutes it with chickpeas or lentils.

In addition he recommends adding vegetables that are in season; today he uses sliced eggplant and zucchini squash.

Let us enjoy our food but not allow it to make us a sick. Eating beef twice a week in dishes such as these bobotie recipes is probably acceptable; in contrast to vegetarian, it is known as flexitarian. You want to reduce your red meat consumption, but you are not ready to give it up completely.

The only ingredients that a family not used to cooking curries might have to acquire are the spices such as cumin and turmeric, and perhaps the chutney.

As usual, because at least half of the invaluable nutrients in a lemon are to be found in the pulp, we insist on using the whole fruit, but not the pith.

Since we should all be aiming for ten coloured foods per day if we do not want to get malignant disease, this is a great opportunity to enjoy a mixed salad on the side; using whatever is in season, try to add a green, red and a yellow at least.

Perhaps you might want several different lettuces, a tomato, sweet peppers and avocado for example; drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

A bowl of homemade hummus completes any salad.

Creating a divine green salad

Bobotie recipes

Bobotie, milk and bread.

Bobotie recipes hail from the traditional Cape Malay people of South Africa.

  • 500g mutton mince (ground beef is acceptable too)
  • 1 cup of mashed, cooked chickpeas
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 2 tsp hot curry powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of mixed aromatic herbs of your choice.
  • 3 bay leaves
  • (1/2 cup of chutney - optional)
  • 1 TBS of apricot jam
  • Pulp and juice of a whole lemon or lime; one quarter of the zest.
  • 1 large very ripe tomato
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 1 medium zucchini squash sliced
  • 2 slices of wholewheat bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of milk.

Bobotie, onions and spices

If you only occasionally use chickpeas then purchase it by the can, but my recommendation because this is the world's favourite protein source, and mine too, is that you pressure cook your own and freeze them; then you will have a ready supply on hand, at a quarter of the price.

We are not vegetarians, but we eat chickpeas daily as a protein source, mostly in hummus on a green salad.

Use a coarse grater to remove the zest from the lemon; toss it straight in within the sizzling onions and spices; slice the pulp and remove the pips, and then add it all in your bobotie recipes, and to all your cooking in fact.

Never discard the lemon pulp; that is where most of the phytochemicals are to be found, including the vitamin C.

In fact, these days, I just slice up the whole peeled lemon, remove the pips and add the lot; you cannot taste the difference. There is a lot of nutrient, especially vitamin C in the pulp too; slow food made fast is our motto. The more shortcuts you can take, provided it does not affect the nutrient value, the better.

  1. Crumble the wholewheat bread including the crust into the milk in a bowl, and set aside.
  2. Fry the chopped onions in a tablespoon of butter in a large pot.
  3. Add the spices and simmer for a couple minutes on low heat, stirring so it doesn't burn.
  4. Add the minced mutton or beef and brown.
  5. Add the chickpeas, garlic, tomato, vegetables, chutney* and jam, and all the lemon including the zest and pulp, plus a teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper, and simmer for ten minutes.
  6. Squeeze the milk out of the bread.
  7. Beat this milk with the eggs; do not mind the crumbs.
  8. Add the squeezed bread to the main dish and stir it in. Then pour it into a large oven proof dish#.
  9. Pour the beaten eggs onto the meat, chickpea and vegetable mix.
  10. Bake in a hot oven for 3/4 of an hour; the first half with a lid on.

* If you choose not to use a chutney, then use half a cup of jam; apricot is traditional, but I use whatever is in season.

# I prefer a deep oven dish, or even two, as it tends to boil over and make a mess in the oven.

Serve on whole grain yellow rice, unless you are banting, with a green salad on the side.


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We never eat a plain red meat dish these days since the solid study done by the World Health Organization collecting together all the top quality research.

It seems there is little doubt that is tumour forming.

What is in doubt is whether it is red the meat per se, or all the hormones that are pumped into them at the corn-fed feedlot; cows normally eat primarily grass.

Bobotie uses ground beef; we use half the amount, substituting instead chickpeas for protein.

Always, in one way or another, we will add vegetables; the coloured foods are invaluable for their phytochemicals.

Toss some thyme herb benefits in the pan.

A photo of the bobotie vegetables in the pot.

A few thoughts to go with our bobotie recipes.

Know your curry powder; just one teaspoon is enough if it is really hot; four might be right if it is mild; it all depends on the amount of chili. In season I would toss in a whole jalapeño or a couple pepperdews.

Finely squared eggplant is a wonder with any ground beef; you hardly know it is there and it seriously lowers the cholesterol problems.

Preparing your own chickpeas, known in America as garbanzo beans, is not difficult but you do need a pressure cooker. It is a great labour and time saving device and every busy cook should have one in my opinion.

They reduce the cooking time by two thirds and it is impossible to open the modern devices under pressure and spread your dinner on the ceiling.

Soak the chickpeas overnight, rinse several times to remove the phytates and then again cover with water and pressure cook for half an hour. Rinse several times more, drain in a colander until nearly dry. 

One cup always goes immediately into our authentic hummus recipe.

Notice this dish has at least five of the mandatory eight coloured foods we need to eat every day: carrots, eggplant, zucchini, tomato and lemon.

Here are my top 7 functional foods; they help prevent disease and promote well-being.

Bobotie recipes can be made with chickpeas.

Bobotie recipes with mixed greens

I hate being locked into a recipe so today we made bobotie with mixed greens; it is early summer and too early for eggplant and zucchini.

But we have plenty of greens, so I used a mixture of spinach, beet tops and kale, all freshly picked. First I deveined them and chopped them not too finely; then I steamed them briefly for a few minutes.

In fact you do not even need to steam them first; just chop them relatively finely.

Mixed greens for bobotie.

First a layer of the bobotie mix; you can see the beef and chickpeas, then the steamed greens, and then another layer of the spiced meat.

Bobotie recipes with mixed greens; spinach, beet tops and kale.

There are a hundred ways to make bobotie recipes, just avoid the white bread, and reduce the red meat by substituting part of it with your favourite legumes.

Now it goes to the oven for forty-five minutes.

Freezing chickpeas

Freezing chickpeas makes your life a lot simpler if you have the desire to start substituting some of your red meat with legumes; such as in these bobotie recipes.

Having drained your cooked chickpeas, then freeze them in cup sized packages.

Freezing chickpeas for use in your bobotie and other dishes.

Homemade bread

Very briefly, homemade bread is a huge step-up in the vitality of your family, but only if you can get real flour; millers worldwide are allowed to cheat.

They can describe it as wholemeal provided they do not remove more than 40% of the grain; that is the germ and bran where the goodness is to be found. It is a gross deception.

Look for the 100% wholemeal sign; or grind your own wheat.

Our German Hawo is top of the range but prohibitively expensive now; but it is twenty-five years old, and going strong, so I am pleased that I forked out the extra; it has paid for itself many times over. When you buy the best, it hurts only once. Think about the Mockmill as an alternative.

Millers remove the bran which is where the lignans are found; those are the phytochemicals that prevent breast cancer and lower cholesterol. We either make the time and spend the money to prepare good food, or a lot more on chemotherapy and statins.

Five minutes every morning to make our homemade low GI bread does not scare me; half the price of store bread with ten times the goodness and the awesome taste; it is simply wonderful in your bobotie recipes.


Happy coincidences happen sometimes; both we and the supermarket ran out of powdered cumin; the Indian lady whispered that we should rather buy the raw seed at a quarter of the price, roast and grind small quantities. It is wonderful in recipes such as bobotie.

Freshly ground cumin has so much more flavour, and is so easy to prepare; I do enough for a month as we use it several times a week in the hummus; keep it under olive oil to prevent oxygen from the air getting to it.

What is cumin you may be asking?


Eggplant is a lovely vegetable for your bobotie recipes; but it does takes some getting used to. They must be dark blue-black and shiny; old brinjals, as we call them, are simply awful.

They are a natural statin; eaten regularly along with more salad and fruit and you can probably escape the horrid side effects of the medication; does impotence, one of the side-effects, worry you? It should do.

These easy eggplant recipes are a good place to start.

We could go on about the allicin benefits in garlic and onions, but will leave that for another page.

  1. Bernard Preston
  2. Authentic hummus recipe
  3. Bobotie recipes

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Hilton, KZN

South Africa