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 and white bread I cannot recommend I'm afraid. It is no coincidence that one-third of adults have frank diabetes.

A herd of cattle 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 9th November, 2023.

There are serious concerns about the status of beef but the fact of the matter is that we personally continue to enjoy red meat in our bobotie recipes occasionally; despite the warning from the WHO that it is probably tumour-forming under certain conditions.

Much concerns how your beef 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; 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 and not just the juice; but not the pith.

Since we should all be aiming for ten coloured foods per day if we do not want to get malignant tumours, 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 and avocado for example; drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Sweet peppers are after citrus the richest source of vitamin C.

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 sliced medium zucchini-squash
  • Half a cup of almonds
  • 2 slices of wholewheat bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of milk.
Bobotie, onions and spices

If you only occasionally use chickpeas then purchase them 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 into 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 beta-cryptoxanthin[1] 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, vegetables and chutney*; and the jam, all the lemon including the zest and pulp
  6. Add S&P and simmer for ten minutes.
  7. Squeeze the milk out of the bread.
  8. Beat this milk with the eggs; do not mind the crumbs.
  9. Add the squeezed bread to the main dish and stir it in. Then pour it into a large ovenproof dish#.
  10. Pour the beaten eggs onto the meat, chickpea and vegetable mix.
  11. Briefly scorch the almonds on a hot pan, blend in a coffee grinder. Sprinkle on the mix.
  12. Bake in a hot oven for 3/4 of an hour; the first half with a lid on.

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

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

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

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

It seems there is little doubt that is tumour-forming; free range may be quite different, if you can get it.

What is in doubt is whether it is the red 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 phytonutrients.

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 rather toss in a chopped jalapeño or a couple peppadews.

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; every busy foodie should have one in my opinion.

They reduce the cooking time by two-thirds; 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 twenty minutes.

Rinse again several times, 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 and zucchini. Tomato and lemon are added too.

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 place a layer of the bobotie mix; you can see the beef and chickpeas, then the steamed greens and another layer of the spiced meat. Making vegetable stock from scraps will enrich it further.

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; perfect for a homemade hummus with lemon pulp too.

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 advertise 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's 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 tumours 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 a store loaf with ten-times the goodness and the awesome taste. It is simply divine in your bobotie recipes. Not even our dogs will eat white slices.

White bread untouched by our dogs.Commercial bread spurned by our dogs


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 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.


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