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    By Pam Brunton

    • Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus soaking and resting
    • Cooking time: 3 hours 20 minutes
    • Total time: 4 hours 5 minutes, plus soaking and resting

    Serves: 6


    2 thick slices bread (about 100g), crusts removed
    250ml whole milk
    2 onions, finely chopped
    3 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 heaped tbsp mild curry powder
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1kg beef or lamb mince
    2 tbsp fruity chutney or apricot jam, plus extra to serve
    1 ball stem ginger, finely chopped (or finely grated fresh root ginger, if you prefer it less sweet)
    50g raisins
    30g whole skin-on almonds, chopped
    about 500ml beef stock
    1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar, to season
    Worcestershire sauce, to season

    4 eggs
    2 egg yolks
    pinch mustard powder
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    ½ tsp salt
    400ml whole milk
    2-3 fresh bay leaves
    small handful (about 15g)
    flaked almonds


    1. In a bowl, soak the bread in the milk for about 15 minutes, then pour any unabsorbed milk into a jug, cover and chill for the topping. Beat the soggy bread to coarse, pulpy breadcrumbs. Meanwhile, in a flameproof casserole dish, sweat the onions in 1 tbsp oil with a pinch of salt, covering with a lid for the first few minutes. When the onions have become translucent, remove the lid and cook over a medium heat until they turn a golden caramel, stirring frequently (about 15-20 minutes). Add the spices and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

    2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan; brown the mince in 2 or more batches, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon (make sure the pan is hot enough for the mince to sizzle relentlessly). As the batches of mince brown, add them to the onions in the other dish. Use a little water to scrape the pan clean before adding the next batch of mince; add this water to the onions. 

    3. When all the mince is in the onion dish, add the soaked bread, chutney or jam, ginger, raisins, almonds, stock (enough to just cover the meat) and a pinch of salt. Cut a circle of baking parchment the size of the dish; rest this on the surface of the mince, then cover with a lid, slightly ajar. Cook on a slow simmer until tender – about 1 hour 30 minutes-2 hours – with the occasional stir and splash of water to keep the meat just covered. Season with more salt if needed, plus the lemon juice or vinegar, and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. At this stage, you can cool the meat, cover and chill it overnight to deepen the flavour or bake it at once.

    4. Preheat the oven to 180˚C, gas mark 4 (if the meat has been in the fridge, heat it through before adding the custard – this will help the custard set nicely). In a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and yolks until just combined (there should be no froth, but no streaks of orange yolk or gloopy white either). Whisk in the mustard, vanilla, salt and milk (top up any milk reserved from the bread to make 400ml). Pour over the meat and add the bay leaves. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the custard is just set and browning in patches. About halfway through, when the custard is starting to get a skin, scatter over the almonds. Serve straight away with more chutney, plus yellow rice and banana-coconut pickle (see tip below), if liked.

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    Cook's tip: I like my bobotie with yellow rice and a banana-coconut pickle. Simply cook basmati with a pinch of turmeric, a few cloves and crushed green cardamom pods and some butter. For the pickle, toss diced banana in desiccated coconut and lemon juice.



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