Monday, November 08, 2010

VeganMoFo: South African Bobotie

Our culinary escapade continues... onward ho, to the great continent of Africa! South Africa has a special place in my heart, because my beloved painting teachers are from South Africa. I've never been there, but I'd like to get there someday. So, when I was looking for countries to feature from Africa, I knew I wanted to investigate South African foods. It seems like S. African cuisine has many, many interesting influences, from both the native peoples and the many immigrant cultures that have become a part of the South African experience.

After rejecting all the barbecued meat recipes, I went with some Cape Malay recipes, starting with this Tofu Bobotie. The recipe is from a cookbook called Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. My friend Alana lent me this book, and it is full of nothing but regional and ethnic recipes. It's really amazing! I'm definitely going to put it on my list, because there is a lot more to explore in there. The Bobotie is kind of like a meat casserole... but this version uses frozen-then-defrosted tofu, along with chopped almonds. It was really, really delicious! On top, you were supposed to mix eggs and milk to make a custard. So, instead I made up a batch of the omelette stuff from Vegan Brunch, and used about 3/4 cup to spread on top. This resulted in me having to bake the whole thing about 15 minutes longer and about 50 degrees hotter than the original recipe suggested, but that worked out just great.

The filling was abundant with curry spices, mostly those on the sweeter side (cinnamon, fennel, coriander)... nothing too peppery. Plus, chutney, bread crumbs, raisins... it was a great sweet-savory curry combo. The end result was so delicious. It actually wasn't a particularly demanding thing to assemble, and the flavors were really robust and special. I think this would be a great dish for Thanksgiving or another holiday. I only made a half batch, and still I think it was at least 4 servings, so this recipe definitely makes a lot.

In addition to the Bobotie, I also made some recipes from a library book called The Africa Cookbook, a book I plan on renewing so I can continue to explore it. I made Curried Vegetables and the Yellow Rice. The veggies were in a very mild curry... a bit too mild to be too terribly interesting on their own. However, with the suggested condiments added on, their mildness became an asset, as they were a lovely vehicle for some chutney (I used a chili-plum sauce made by one of my lovely yoga students!) and some spicy tomato-onion mixture (see below). I also made a quick and easy pilaf with turmeric and raisins. Can you see how nice and fluffy the rice turned out? The method for cooking the rice was different from anything I'd done before. First you boiled it in too much water for 20 minutes (along with the seasonings), then drained it, and steamed it for another 10 minutes. Very cool! It was easy, and it definitely got a different result. It reminded me a bit of the texture of persian rice, which is also rinsed and de-starched and then steamed.

Finally, I made this stuff... it's the spicy tomato onion mixture I mentioned. It's a condiment called Smoor (fun name!), also from The Africa Cookbook. It was a great element along with the casserole and the rice & veggies. It's fun, when I have the time, to make a whole range of dishes and experience a well-rounded meal, rather than just one thing. This was a really lovely meal that I would be happy to repeat over again!


18 comments:

  1. Great post Amey! I have no idea about South African cuisine. Thank you for broadening my horizon.

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  2. If you don't mind used books you can get Sundays at Moosewood for 75 cents. You pay around 4 dollars shipping but it is a great website for cookbooks. (half.com)

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  3. Woooaa! All of that looks stunning. I definitely have some African cooking to do. I hope you will stay in Africa for a while now, I bet there's a lot to discover!

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  4. This is one of the best looking meals I have seen during mofo so far. My my.

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  5. Yum, I'm going to have to check that cookbook out of the library next week.

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  6. I'm loving the map!

    There was a lot of talk of Bobotie when the World Cup was going on and I was curious about how to pull it off vegan, but this looks do-able. Yum!

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  7. Oh yeah that Tofu Bobotie looks awesome, I am making that for sure if I can get hold of Sundays at Moosewood....

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  8. Incredible! Subbing the omelet mixture for the eggs was a great idea. And now I have to add this Moosewood cookbook to my wishlist. Darn you, Amey.

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  9. I love that cookbook - there are so many great recipes. It was one of my first cookbooks and really taught me a lot about how to cook!

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  10. And I can testify that this meal also provided excellent leftovers the next day. Thanks, Amey. EVEN Daddy liked it!!

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  11. amey, you are blowing vegan mofo out of the sky. seriously, can you stop so my blog gets a little more attention? my bagels and fig preserves cannot compete with bobtie. i have a copy of sundays at moosewood..it is pretty old school, but a classic nonetheless. i am so glad you are coming soon, maybe my blog hits will pick up?

    xo
    kittee

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  12. When I was visiting South Africa we had something called krummelpap which was a dry cornmeal mixture topped with a tomato and onion mixture that looks JUST like your last photo. It was my favorite dish!

    I really love your blog and especially this around the world thing!

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  13. I bet your vegan tofu-almond Bobotie kicked some big meat Bobotie butt!

    Awesome improvisation with the omelette stuff from Vegan Brunch!

    That's an interesting rice cooking method. I should try it - my poor rice cooking skills are embarrassing.

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  14. Hi Amey,

    Thanks very much for the post and being a South African - I think you have made an amazing effort to veganize something that is a very traditional Afrikaans dish. I'd love to get the recipe because believe it or not I have never eaten bobotie before !

    I think I may post some more of the traditional South African foods that people will find very tasty. Even though South Africa is a very traditional meat-eating culture some of the staple foods in all of the different cultures are vegan dishes.

    Thanks again and keep up the wonderful work.

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  15. Fabulous, fabulous meal! You know, I have that cookbook and never saw the Bobote--but must make it now! I love the smoor, too (I'll have smoor, please!). Hee hee!

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  16. That looks absolutely delicious!

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  17. I am your typical South African and I absolutely miss my mums and granny's bobotie. I was always the meat version.
    But I have to admit, when I saw this picture, it looked like the real thing.
    It looked absolutely yummy.
    With my wife not really being able to eat red meat, I think this is absolutely wonderful. Bravo!

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