Friday, March 23, 2012

South Africa: Bobotie Burgers

As you might or might not know, the South African Bobotie is a meatloaf-like dish but instead of baking the minced meat as a loaf, it is being spread out in an oven dish. Towards the end of the baking time, the bobotie is covered with a custard (eggs and milk). In most recipes, the ground meat is mixed with Indian spices, raisins, and almonds. To see an example, head over to Amanda's blog, "Dabblings and Whimsey" (she is doing a cooking project similar to mine and is also visiting South Africa this month) to check out her Bobotie. Though the ingredients of this dish sound really delicious, in our house we don't really like meatloafs and baked minced meat dishes. However, we do love burgers and so I decided to turn this South African classic into just that. The recipe I was using called for dried apricots and diced apple to be included in the meat mixture. I left the apricots with the meat but thought to put apple slices on the burger for some crunch. The serving suggestion for the original dish was a side of rice and chutney. To include the rice, I used it in the burger buns (the recipe will be posted later). I turned the custard into a (rather delicate) omelette to put on the meat patty. Et voilà, you have a Bobotie Burger. The  curry flavored patties were great and we enjoyed eating this dinner! This dish is linked to this month's roundup of my Cook Around the Globe project.

Patties (makes 8)
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tsp vegetable oil
3-4 tbsp curry powder
3 dashes turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 dashes cayenne pepper
zest and juice of 1 lime
60 g dried apricots, finely chopped
600 g ground beef
2 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp milk
1 egg
30 g sliced almonds
salt & pepper
oil for frying

Omelettes (makes 8)
2 egg
250 ml milk

1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
mango chutney (or other)
burger buns or rice rolls (see below)

To prepare the patties, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Mix together onion mixture, lime juice and zest, apricots, ground beef, bread crumbs, milk, egg, and almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide mixture into eight parts and form patties.  Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add 2-3 meat patties and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are not pink anymore in the center. In the meantime, whisk together eggs, milk, and a little salt. Spray small (10 cm diameter) skillets with a little oil, pour in about 50 ml of egg mixture for each omelette, and cook over low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the omelette is lightly browned on the bottom. (These omelettes are very delicate and difficult to handle, that's why it is best to prepare them individually and just flip the skillet over onto the patty when assembling the burger.) Serve patties and omelettes on burger buns or rice rolls (see below) with the apple slices, chutney, and lettuce as toppings.


  1. As a South African, I really like this take on bobotie! It's never occurred to us to eat our bobotie in burger form (mainly because the men of our various household like "scoopable" food and thus, see burgers as pointless because they can't consume it with a spoon...Yeah, they're idiots). The flavourings of bobotie are such a great tribute to the Cape Malay (though we do HATE it being referred to as meatloaf!)

    1. I am happy to hear that this version sounds good to you. Sometimes people get upset when you mess with the classics :-) I hope I haven't offended the whole Rainbow Nation by using the word "meatloaf", I just couldn't think of a better way to describe the dish. Maybe I could call it a "minced meat cake" or "minced meat bake" ?

  2. What a great-looking, unusually flavored burger. This would be a hit in my house!

  3. Now this sounds like my kind of burger. I adore many African foods and this sounds so good!

  4. A new form of having burgers. I love this recipe.

  5. Excellent interpretation ..... Well done ......