Idaho is no longer a "meat and potatoes" type of state: it is becoming a veritable culinary melting pot! New and interesting ethnic restaurants and grocery stores are opening up in cities around the Treasure Valley and a growing group of "new" Idahoans is introducing exciting unfamiliar ingredients, different approaches to old-fashioned foods and secret family recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next.

This blog allows us a peek into the pots and pans of these travelers that have chosen to make Idaho their new home. It captures a compilation of stories and dishes from people who, far away from their country of birth, recreate familiar elements in the dishes they prepare. For many, food from their home country is a comfort to the soul: for some it's an important part of their cultural or religious celebrations and for others, it's just good eating!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

South Africa

Name: Estelle Bester
Born in: Zimbabwe
In Idaho since: October 2010

"Bobotie is a traditional South African dish. I was born in Zimbabwe but I moved to South Africa after I finished high school to be with my dad. I learned from my South African stepmother how to make bobotie. As with every national dish, there are many variations.Over the years I've changed my stepmom's recipe a little bit, as everybody has their own little additions to personalize the dish.  Before moving to America, I typed up all my recipes for my son who married earlier this year. Yesterday I received an email from him in which he told me he was making bobotie for his wife."

Bobotie, pronounced boh-buoy-tea, is considered the national dish for South Africa. Each family or region has its own slight variations on the theme. Some people will add vegetables such as peas and carrots to the dish, others will flavor it with lemon peel or bay leaves: it is a dish that lends itself beautifully to become a family favorite. A flavorful ground beef dish with a custard topping, it can be eaten with rice or the next day with a fried egg and some toast for breakfast. The dish has been known since the 17th century in the Cape of Good Hope, but it is said to have originated in Malaysia. The curry and ginger spices, the yellow rice colored with turmeric and the use of dried fruit in a meat dish clearly point to its Malay roots.

Bobotie
For the meat
5 heaping teaspoons of ground ginger
Pouring the egg and milk mixture
3 heaping teaspoons of soft brown sugar
3 heaping teaspoons of curry
3 heaping teaspoons of turmeric
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 stick of butter
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
1lb of ground beef
2 tablespoons of cranberry chutney
2 tablespoons of apricot jam
2 tablespoons of vinegar
3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 slices of white bread, crust removed
2 cups of milk
2 eggs

For the rice
2 cups of rice
4 cups of water
1 heaping teaspoon of turmeric
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of golden raisins


Adding the soaked bread
Preheat the oven to 350F. Add the ginger, brown sugar, curry, turmeric, salt and butter to a pan. Stir on medium heat until the butter melts, then add the onions and sauté. Make sure the spices don't burn. Add the beef and stir until the meat is no longer pink, then stir in the chutney, apricot jam, vinegar and tomato paste. Keep stirring until everything comes together and is hot. Soak the bread in the milk, squeeze milk out and add wet bread to meat mixture. Stir, taste and adjust the flavor according to your own liking. Transfer the meat mixture to an oven dish. Scramble the eggs with the rest of milk and pour it over the meat mixture. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are set.

In the meantime, wash the rice, add the water and the turmeric. Boil rice until done, stir in the raisins and let stand until you are ready to serve.

Place some rice in the middle of a plate and add one or two generous scoops of bobotie on top. Be prepared to serve seconds!

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