This quintessentially South African favourite – regarded by many as the national dish of the country – is made from minced meat with spices and curry powder, and set with an egg-and-milk custard.
It is Indonesian in origin, brought from Batavia in the Dutch East Indies (today Jakarta, Indonesia) by the Dutch colonists. It was absorbed into the Malay community – originally the slaves brought to the Cape Colony by the Dutch East India Company during the seventeenth century.
The mince varies from a mixture of pork and lamb, to just lamb mince, or beef mince. I tend to favour the latter, in its leanest form, as it is easily available in our supermarkets.
The spices vary considerably from household to household in South Africa, some including ginger, coriander, bay leaves, turmeric and even grated lemon rind.
Apricot jam (my “secret ingredient”), and fruits such as raisins, sultanas, dried apricots, or grated fresh apple, provide a delicious sweetness. For the extra “zing” to counteract the sweetness, some add vinegar, and others choose lemon juice.
Nuts are a popular addition too: slivered flaked almonds stirred into the mixture, or walnuts used for garnishing.
The common binding agent, also providing a delicious moistness to the texture, is a large slice of bread soaked in milk.
It is also customary to serve this dish with “yellow” rice and various interesting sambals: desiccated coconut, chutney and sliced bananas.
Ingredients (6 servings)
500 g minced beef or lamb
1 thick slice of bread, crusts removed, soaked in ¾ cup of milk
1 large onion, or 2 medium onions, chopped
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons of coriander
2 teaspoons of turmeric
Slivered or flaked almonds: ½ – ¾ cup, depending on personal taste
Curry powder to taste – not too strong
Cooking oil (sunflower) for frying
Roughly two tablespoons of apricot jam (chunky or smooth)
A handful of raisins
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup milk
(some add grated cheddar cheese on top. I don’t)
1. Heat the oven to 180° C, and soak the bread in the milk
2. Fry the onion and ginger with the spices until transparent, and set aside
3. Fry the mince, in batches, until lightly browned
4. Mix the mince, softened bread, apricot jam, raisins, almonds and onion with spices, and pour into a casserole or oven-proof dish
5. Place the bay leaves in a flower formation on top.
6. Whisk together the milk and eggs, and pour over the mixture
7. Bake until lightly browned on top (about 30-40 mins)
Serve with Yellow rice (cooked with turmeric), with a handful of raisins, and various
Sambals: bowls of
Chutney – preferably peach or mango
Finely chopped onion, green pepper and tomato, dressed with oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
Sliced bananas (sprinkled with lemon juice to stop them from going brown)