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The Cape Malay Bobotie Recipe Reinvented

Trees Restaurant Executive Chef Stefan Schmidt shares his original take on this traditional South African favourite, with a step-by-step recipe for you to try at home.
Moving to Cape Town in 1998, Stefan exchanged a life in Europe for the Cape’s summers, wine and beaches.
Since stepping into South African kitchens – first at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl and now at Trees Restaurant in Cape Town’s CBD – the Michelin-trained chef has grown a healthy adoration for traditional local dishes.
In particular, he’s become somewhat of a Cape Malay bobotie fan.
“I love how such a humble dish can be so versatile,” he explains. “You can whip it up as the classic baked version that comes topped with egg custard, which we serve as part of our lunch buffet at Trees Café, a lighter bobotie wrap or a deconstructed dish for special menus.”
He’s shared the latter with our readers to spice up the bog-standard recipes out there and to give people an idea of what’s on the go at Trees, where they serve up classics with a certain spin – they like to “play” with their food – as well as providing simple, comforting dishes.

CAPE MALAY BOBOTIE – WITH A TWIST
Serves 6

For the mince:

Ingredients:
800g beef mice
200g (or one large) onion
20g fresh ginger, crushed
40g fresh garlic, crushed
7 cardamom pods
20g whole coriander pods
5 cloves
3 bay leaves
6 dried curry leaves
2 tbsp mild curry powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp apricots jam
10 Turkish apricots, chopped
50g currants
6 tbsp Mrs. Ball’s chutney
salt and pepper for seasoning

Method:
Heat the cardamom, cloves and coriander in a pan until the cardamom pods have popped. Remove the spices from the pan and add to a pestle and mortar with the curry and bay leaves. Crush all the spices, place in a muslin cloth and knot it closed.
Place a dash of oil in a decent size pot and allow the oil to heat. When the oil starts to smoke slightly, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Gently sauté until the onions become translucent, and then add the mince with all the spices – including the spice-filled muslin cloth. When the mince and spices are thoroughly infused, add the jam, apricots, currants and chutney. Add some water just so the spices and jam don’t burn. Then add some salt and pepper and allow the mince and spices to cook through. Remove from the heat and remove the muslin cloth with the crushed spices.

For the yellow date and apricot sushi rice balls

Ingredients:
150g sushi rice
50ml rice wine vinegar
1tsp turmeric
5 Turkish apricots, chopped
10 pitted dates, chopped
100ml coconut milk
200ml water
salt for seasoning

Method:
Cook all ingredients in a medium-sized pot on a moderate heat until rice is cooked. When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Do not strain the rice under cold water. When cooled completely, the rice should be very sticky. Roll the rice into small balls that are roughly the size of a cherry tomato and then deep fry.

For the curry hollandaise sauce

Ingredients:
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp mild curry powder
200 – 250g warm melted butter
salt and pepper for seasoning

Method:
Place the egg yolks, vinegar, water, curry powder and seasoning over a bain-marie. Whisk the egg mixture rapidly over the simmering water. As the mixture begins to foam and thicken, it will turn pale yellow. Then, add the butter gradually, two tablespoons at a time. Keep whisking until all the butter is incorporated. Remove from the heat.
Tip: Keep the heat lower (than rapidly boiling) – if the bowl becomes too hot, your eggs may curdle.

To assemble:
Place the mince on a plate in a ring mould or a neat mound. Spoon the Hollandaise over the mince. Serve with the crispy rice balls scattered on the plate and garnish with coriander leaves to get that lovely, fresh flavour.