Vegetarian bobotie

Everybody knows bobotie is a meat dish – after all, the dish was invented hundreds of years ago when the old people were looking for ways to prevent meat from going off. But when a vegetarian friend visited recently, we wanted to make something special. We tried lentils instead of minced meat, which was bit of a paradigm shift for The Guardians of The Traditional Bobotie, but it did come out really lovely.

So here it is: a recipe for vegetarian bobotie. It is for 3 to 4 people.


Group A

  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) mild curry powder (if you like it stronger, use 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder)
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon (7.5 ml) turmeric
  • 1 teaspoons (5 ml) salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter or oil
  • 1 large onion, or 2 small onions, chopped

Group B

  • 1 slice of bread, soaked in water
  • 2 x 390 gram tins of lentils (drained) or 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) sultanas
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) chutney
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) anchovy-free Worcester sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) tomato paste

Group C

  • 3/4  cup (185 ml) milk
  • 1 egg
  • A few sliced almonds (optional)
  • A laurel / bay / lemon leaves or two


  1. Heat group A's spices in a heavy saucepan to release its flavour. Be careful not to scorch.
  2. Add onions and butter or oil and fry until onions are soft. Add chopped garlic
  3. Squeeze water from bread and add ingredients of group B to the onion mix.
  4. Simmer mixture for 20 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Pile into a buttered casserole dish
  6. Mix group C's ingredients together, pour over dish.
  7. You may want add laurel or lemon leaves to the topping. Press in lightly. Almonds on the topping are optional but very tasty.
  8. Bake at 180°C for about 45 minutes


Serve with yellow rice.

Preserved quince or stewed dried peaches will add a lovely traditional flavour.