I’m a little late publishing this traditional South African Bobotie recipe because Monday was Heritage here and I should have done it before. Anyway, it’s a recipe I made about 5 years ago for the first time and its one I’m so pleased to be able to share. It comes from my friend Carolie de Koster – a well known culinary figure, multiple cookbook author and cooking teacher who now lives in New Zealand. We met through my blog many years ago and have been corresponding ever since.  South African Bobotie is a mildly curried and spicy mince casserole with an egg custard topping that is traditionally served with fragrant yellow rice. Some of the ingredients might sound a little crazy if you are not from here, but it’s utterly delicious. 

A traditional South African bobotie recipe with fragrant yellow rice

The timing didn’t work out for this recipe because I wanted to make the rice in my brand spanking new Instant Pot. I want to assume everyone has heard of this appliance that has a cult status in the USA and took the Internet by storm, but its only recently arrived in South Africa (and by this I mean with full distribution). It’s an electric pressure cooker that is also a slow cooker, a yoghurt maker and rice cooker. It is capable of making a vast array of dishes and helps make the process of recipes that require a longer cooking time a whole lot easier. A pressure cooker essentially takes the temperature above boiling point thereby reducing the cooking time. Its great for dishes that take ages to cook – like stews and chickpeas, and its awesome at softening the texture of meat quickly.

A traditional South African bobotie recipe with fragrant yellow rice

I started using my stovetop pressure cooker two years ago and had quite a few teething problems. The temperature variations of cooking on a stovetop make the process less precise, and after getting over my initial fear of blasting my face off with the thing, my food swung from either being burning or being undercooked initially and until I found the sweet spot on my gas burner. The Instant Pot is so much more accurate and takes the entire guesswork and stress out of cooking with a pressure cooker. It comes with a set number of cooking programmes that make this thing plug and play. Managing it manually is also very easy and the route I will probably go It makes sense to cook at the highest pressure for the shortest amount of time. I have done a massive amount of research into the Instant Pot and once you go down the rabbit hole of researching recipes on the Internet you could get totally lost.  Here are few good links to help you get acquainted with the Instant Pot and how it works: 

New York Times article     

47 easy recipe for new Instant Pot users

101 Cookbooks – 40 Essential Instant Pot Links (This post is probably all you will need to get started)

101 Cookbooks – healthy Instant Pot recipes

There are a million other recipes on the Internet, just give it a Google.

How to make perfect rice in the Instant Pot

For this recipe, I ran 3 tests on the Instant pot to see how to make perfect rice. The Link on The Kitchn is a good resource and the rice came out very soft due to the higher water content (1.5 cups water to 1 cup rice),  but I also wanted to test the method as described in the manual which uses less water but the same method.  

This will apply to long grained white rice, basmati or jasmine rice. I used Tastic soft and absorbing long grained white rice.

There was very little difference between the rice cooked with more water and the rice cooked with an equal ratio of rice to water. I will probably go with 1:1.5 (rice water ratio as per The Kitchen) or even 1:1.25 because I like it slightly softer, but if you like your rice firmer, go for 1:1 rice to water ratio. 

Rince your rice according to the type and product instructions.

Strain the rice and add it to the Instant pot with an equal quantity of water. Add a generous pinch of salt and any butter spices or oil you wish to include for flavour (not necessary but can be very nice).

Close and lock the lid of the Instant pot and set the nozzle to sealing. Use Pressure Cook setting and set the minutes to 4 and High. After a few seconds, you will hear 3 beeps and this means the cooking has started. It will take about 5 minutes for your Instant POt to reach pressure and then the 4 minute cooking times start. You will hear beeps. After 4 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will automatically go into warming stage after the 4 minutes is up. This is called the 10-minute natural release. 

At the end of 10 minutes, the pressure will be back to normal, you can remove the lid and take the rice out the bowl.

*Note that the whole process from pre-pressure to cooking to natural release takes 19 minutes so it is only marginally quicker than making rice on the stove top but this is a guarantee to make perfect rice without any hands-on time and this I like a lot.  While the rice is busy being cooked to perfection, you can get on with doing other things. 

A traditional South African bobotie recipe with fragrant yellow rice

A traditional South African bobotie recipe with fragrant yellow rice

Back to the Bobotie and the history of the dish. Carolie says that ‘the Indonesian influence on South African cookery entered the country with the Dutch colonists, some of whom came from Indonesia at the time. The Indonesian word “bobotok” from which bobotie is derived, appeared in a Dutch cookery book in the year 1609.  Malayans brought their culinary traditions to the country and these formed the cornerstone of many dishes, which were perfected and adapted by each succeeding generation and can be regarded as indigenous. One of the most typical traditional dishes “Bobotie” still features prominently and preparing and serving it will allow you to taste and delight in the spice of South African life’.

Bobotie is prepared with beef or lamb, flavoured with spices, covered with an egg and milk topping and baked to golden perfection. Typically the side dish is yellow rice with raisins. Add a green vegetable for colour and serve it with “sambals” including chutney,  pineapple, cucumber and peanuts or cashew nuts.

I enjoy Carolie’s recipe because it tastes delicious and reminds me of any good bobotie I have ever eaten. It’s also a very simple recipe despite the ingredient list being long. I like that it uses 500gms of beef mince – which is the standard weight it is sold in South Africa and all the other ingredients are easy to come by. I have slightly adapted the recipe here and there and made the rice in my Instant Pot.

Ps: the curry flavour is mild and suitable for children in case you were wondering. Serve with your favourite fruit chutney and all the other bits. The cashews give it a lovely crunchy texture and I think are essential (I probably added about 10)

A traditional South African bobotie recipe with fragrant yellow rice

Bobotie Recipe – Serves 6           

South African Bobotie recipe
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  1. 500g lean beef or lamb mince
  2. 1 large onion, peeled and coarsely grated or chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  4. 4 tsp (20ml) medium curry powder
  5. 1 tsp (5ml) hot or additional medium curry powder or garam masala
  6. ½ tsp (2.5ml) turmeric
  7. 1/2 tsp (1ml) ground coriander
  8. 1/2tsp (1ml) ground ginger
  9. 1/2 tsp (1ml) mixed dried herbs
  10. pinch cayenne pepper or chilli powder
  11. ½ red or green pepper, finely diced
  12. 1 large Granny Smith unpeeled green apple, finely diced or coarsely grated
  13. 2 slices white or brown bread, crusts removed
  14. ½ cup (125ml) milk
  15. 1 tsp (5ml) salt
  16. 1 tsp (5ml) baking powder
  17. 2 tbsp (30ml) apricot jam or fruit chutney (I used Mrs Balls)
  18. 1 tbsp (15ml) white vinegar
  19. 1 tsp (2.5ml) beef stock powder (or one sachet of stock concentrate)
  1. 2 eggs
  2. ½ cup ( 125ml) milk
  3. ¼ tsp (1ml) salt
  4. 6 - 8 coarsely chopped cashew nuts (optional)
  5. lemon or bay leaves (optional)
  1. Place the meat, onion, garlic and spices in a larger non-stock frying and stir-fry over moderate heat for about 5 minutes or until the meat is loose and crumbly.
  2. Add the red pepper and apple and cook 5 minutes more until meat is lightly browned.
  3. Pour the milk over the bread to moisten, and add this to the meat together with all remaining ingredients. Mix to combine, adjust seasoning to taste and spoon into an ovenproof dish of a suitable size or divide between individual ovenproof ramekin dishes.  Smooth the top.
  4. Beat together the ingredients for the topping and pour over the meat. Scatter the nuts over the top and stick a few lemon or bay leaves decoratively into the meat.
  5. Bake at 170ºC for about 30 minutes for the large dish or 20 minutes for the ramekins or until the topping has set and turned light golden brown.
  1. *loosely cover the the dish with a piece of foil to prevent over browning ife necessary
Drizzle and Dip https://drizzleanddip.com/
Yellow rice and raisins

Turmeric, widely used in Cape Malay cooking, colours and flavours the rice.  Raisins add texture and sweetness while the cinnamon stick creates a mysterious aroma to the rice.

Yellow rice & raisins recipe
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  1. 1 cup (250ml) rice (any favourite white or brown)
  2. ½ tsp (2.5ml) salt
  3. 1 tsp (5ml) turmeric
  4. 1 Tbsp (15ml) butter or olive oil
  5. ¼ cup (60ml) raisins
  6. 1 small cinnamon stick
To make this in an Instant Pot
  1. Soak and rinse the rice according to the manufacturer's instructions
  2. Add the rice plus one cup of water and all the other ingredient to the bowl of the Instant Pot.
  3. Seal the pot and set it to ‘sealing’. Program on manual to 4 minutes on high pressure and it pretty much starts itself. You hear 3 beeps which indicate the Instant Pot has entered the pre-warming stage. It's all so effortless I literally left the room until I heard the beeps to indicate it was done.
  4. When the 4 minutes is up, set a timer for 10 minutes and the machine automatically goes into the Natural Pressure release stage. Remove and decant the rice and serve.
To make this on the Stovetop
  1. Soak and rinse the rice according to the manufacturer's instructions
  2. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and dry.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick and fluff lightly with a fork before turning into a suitable dish to serve. Or, divide between ramekins to mould if preferred.
Drizzle and Dip https://drizzleanddip.com/
In South Africa, the Instant Pot is available at Yuppiechef and @Home Stores and retails at R1999 (current at the time of publishing)

A traditional South African bobotie recipe with fragrant yellow rice

*This Post is not sponsored by Instant Pot South Africa, but I was given a machine to test



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  1. Liz Thomas

    Delicious! Coincidently a South African friend here in France made this for us a couple of weeks ago! Took me right back to when I lived in SA in the seventies!


  2. Julie Lindhiem

    Lovely photos Sam. A question, do you think cooking rice in the Instant Pot beats a rice cooker?

  3. Sam

    Thanks, Jules. I have never used a rice cooker so I can’t compare. The Instant Pot is a slow and pressure cooker plus it makes yoghurt. It’s amazing.

  4. Sam

    That is so cool Liz, I hope you make it yourself too. I love how dishes can transport us straight back to childhood memories like that. Bobotie is like that for me too.

  5. Very simple words have been used to explain this method and I understand everything well. Thanku so very much sharing this great recipe.

  6. Sam

    Thanks Shrika so glad you approve 🙂

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