October 16th, 2013
05:00 PM ET
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South Africa's unique culture - and complex history - shines through in everything the "rainbow nation" does. Even the country's foodways reflect the diverse demographics of people that call the southernmost point of Africa home.

Before the Suez Canal was excavated, Europeans had to sail around Africa to get to Asia for the silk and spice trades. The journey was so long that explorers often ran out of fresh food and water, resulting in scurvy and oftentimes death.

Coastal city Cape Town was established as a logical restocking point, and was soon settled by a number of different European nationalities, including the Portuguese, Dutch and British.

The Dutch brought their love of meat for dinner, leading to boerewors (from the Afrikaans words "boer" for "farmer," and "wors" for "sausage"); the British brought dishes like cottage pie and sausage rolls; the Indian and Southeast Asian people provided curries, mostly yellow and mild; and the French Huguenots instilled a love for wine and winemaking.

One can't ignore the political and cultural effect the European settlers had on native populations, and no one is saying that South Africa grew in a way that was free or fair, but over the years, South Africans have taken these influences and made them their own. Dishes have popped up as a blend of this and that, resulting in something distinctively South African.

One such example is bobotie. The dish was most likely brought to South Africa by the Dutch, and then adapted by the Cape Malay. The end product is a sweet, curried minced-meat dish that's topped with an egg custard. Bobotie (pronounced bah-booh-tea) can be adjusted for taste and preference, whether with lamb or almonds.

It’s traditionally served with yellow rice, sambals and chutney; that’s where the Cape Malay influence comes in. Sambals are chili-based condiments that accompany the dish and used to change the flavor of each bite.

Here’s my favorite bobotie recipe, from my mother.

Chloe Smith's Bobotie
2 1/4 pounds ground beef
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons medium curry powder
2 tablespoons chutney
1 tablespoon apricot jam
1 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
2 slices white bread (crusts removed)
Salt and pepper to season
4 bay leaves

Soak the bread in the milk. In the meantime, heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onions and garlic. Add the ginger, and allow the onions to become soft and translucent. Add the curry powder and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.

Add the ground beef and toss (don’t stir) to brown. Then add the apricot jam, chutney and stir.

Squeeze the excess milk out of the bread, saving the milk, and add the bread to the meat mixture.

Stir the mixture, then remove from the heat and add one beaten egg. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish and smooth out the top. Cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Beat the remaining eggs with reserved milk and pour carefully over the meat mixture.

Stick the bay leaves into the mixture and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes in the oven, or until the custard is set and golden-brown.

Serve with yellow rice, sambals and chutney.

Editor's Note: Emily Smith grew up in Cape Town before moving to the United States.


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Filed under: African • Anthony Bourdain • Content Partner • Cuisines • Parts Unknown • South African

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Delise Means


    October 22, 2013 at 7:24 am |
  2. Matt

    Anthony Bourdain is a total moron and has no knowledge about the real history of South Africa! He should stay with eating animal intestines in his programs and stay out of the political of the country he is in. I will never in my life watch another Bourdain program as long as I live. He disrespected every South African person in his show and should learn about the true history of a country before he opens his big mouth with disillusioned acquisition's. What an idiot!!

    October 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  3. Hilda

    I have been to South Africa many times. What a disgusting replica of the people and their food from Anthony Bourdain. He is a big egotistical boring man. Remove him and put somebody on tv that is less boring and does not always look like his suffering from a hangover. What he said about the people and their country was just unbelievable. He is a racist and it shows. He is only interested in drinking as much wine as he possibly can and his small talk, only idiots can enjoy. I have tasted the foods of the people of Natal with all there fabulous curries, the fantastic cuisine of the cape, and the wonderful barbecues of the Kruger. I have tasted the African food and their spices. Bourdain did not know what he was talking about, insulting the black and white people of South Africa. It was nauseating watching him. Sorry South Africans for this ridiculous image of your food and your people. Ashamed to be in the same country as this pompous a...

    October 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  4. Bryan

    Anthony Bourdain is a racist!. Yes a racist against white people and himself a self hating white person who consistently embarrasses himself. He said he was ignorant of South Africa before he went and even still after he left and boy is he right! He obviously knows nothing on the history of the country and has no respect for it: black or white. He belittles the white people throughout the show failing to observe that they have been in the country over 300 years and have even over this course developed their own unique language (Afrikaans) How would we feel if someone came to America and belittled our minorities like African Americans and gave them no respect??! In the beginning he says "these statues of old white me should me torn down" what an ignorant racist..those old white people might have been backwards in their racial beliefs (not all of them) but they invested and built the nation and kept it from going the way of most African nations and turned to South Africa in what is probably the only real modern country on the continent. Anthony further goes on to show white culture and food as boring...too bad Anthony as their is a lot to explore in boer cuisine and other "white" cuisines of the country that have existed and changed little for generations, it's influences on other foods and how it has been influenced by african cuisine. Respect is deserved to both Black, Asian, White, and mixed race of South Africa....yes South Africa has had it's terrible problems in the past and white domination was indeed terrible...but the country is moving past that..peacefully and Anthony and his pompous ignorance coming in and trying to make white people look bad is the OLD South Africa…and like Anthony it is OLD and nothing new. I myself will NEVER watch another of Bourdain’s shows.

    October 21, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • IS

      I didn't even get through the first 30 seconds. He wouldn't appreciate it if the Native Americans treated him the way he wants the majority to treat the minority in SA. Does this idiot even know the rate at which people who were BORN there are being killed on a DAILY basis? His ignorance shows and reflects poorly on CNN. Ag shame, ignorant poephol.

      October 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  5. Bryan


    October 21, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  6. Sylvia

    I just returned from South Africa. The people, the food, thebeatuty of the land was inspiriting. They should be very proud of themeselves. All of the people are working together the shake off the history of apartide.

    October 21, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  7. Melissa

    I enjoyed this episode as I enjoy most of the episodes of your show, Mr. Bourdain. I'm having a little trouble with this one though. I know some white and non-white South African (young folks) because I have taught them in college in the United States. I think your focus in this episode only on the black South Africans of Soweto and other places is too easy. The people of South Africa overcame apartheid and became something new, and I love their new ways of being, their new culture(s). I wish you had shown more of that. That being said, I thought some of the food–especially the street food in Johannesburg–looked delicious, and kind of similar to food in the American South. Loved the footage in the Rift Valley!

    October 21, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  8. Wes

    That BabaBooey sounds delicious!

    October 20, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Siobhan

      It is! I'm from South Africa, born and raised. Live in NY now. I miss SA food!

      October 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  9. The Brutal Truth

    WOW! If not for CNN, how on earth could we ever use the Internet to find recipes???

    Thank god for the Cable News Network giving us recipes!!!

    October 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      What the what now? This is the author's family recipe, which she was generous enough to share. Your issue with that is what, exactly?

      October 24, 2013 at 8:45 am |
  10. JellyBean

    There has been a whole lot of coverage of Anthony Bourdain on this blog lately. What's up with that...

    October 17, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • RC

      He pretty much works for CNN now.

      October 17, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Cause his show is neat-o.

      October 19, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  11. Palengkera

    I wish to visit Africa and have a taste to their food. :)

    October 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
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