Saturday, January 17, 2015


Hobotee is an easy dish, with a fun presentation, that my family has once a month or so, but that most Americans seem never to have had, or even heard of.  Its sorta partway between a meatloaf and a curry.

here's my recipe
1 lb of meat (minced or ground, I usually use ground beef or ground deer)
1 onion (chopped)
1 large slice of bread
1/2 cup of milk
2 eggs
1Tbsp of curry powder
1 tsp to 1 Tbsp of sugar (I usually use brown sugar)
1 Tbsp of vinegar
1/4 cup of shredded coconut (or chopped almonds)
1 Tbsp of cooking oil
some grease of choice
optionally some bay leafs or lemon slices

Be sure to have cooked rice and chutney to serve it with

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Mince the meat (if necessary) and chop the onion, Soak the bread in a bowl with the milk, and then squeeze it dry (back into the rest of the milk), tear it up and put it in a larger bowl, retaining the other milk.  Fry the onions in the oil, and when nicely browned (your call maybe 8ish min) sprinkle in the curry powder and cook a few minutes more being careful not to burn.  Add the hot curried chopped onions, and the minced meat into the big bowl with the torn up bread, and then add 1 egg, the sugar, vinegar, and coconut, and mix it all up.  Whisk the other egg with the milk.  Grease 4 coffee cups.  Divvy the curry mixture into the 4 coffee cups.  Pour the egg/milk mixture over the curry mixture in the coffee cups, trying to get even amounts in each of the 4 cups (it's a bit tricky).  If you want, add a bay leaf, or lemon slice to the top of each cup.  Bake the 4 coffee cups full of meat curry custard for 30 minutes.  This is a good time to cook the rice you're going to serve with it.

When you serve it at the table, have the rice on the plates and serve the hot coffee cups with it.  Each person scoops the lovely meatloaf curry stuff out of their cup and onto the rice with a fork or spoon, and then adds a chutney (or chili sauce, or other sweet-spicy condiment, or if you're a stick-in-the-mud, nothing else) on top.

Hobotee is probably an old Dutch/Malaysian fusion dish, from the Dutch East Indies.  It was common in the US in the late 1800 and early 1900s, but seems to have been associated with Charleston SC, and the South, and in South Africa, where it is often called Bobotee or Bobotie, and has a number of variations.

My recipe doubles nicely (although you can get away with 2 or 3 eggs instead of 4).  It's my personal variation on a recipe (or receipt), that appears in the 1950 cookbook "Charleston Receipts: Collected by the Junior League of Charleston", Walker, Evans, and Cogswell, which mentions that "recipe" is considered a modernized term for the older term "receipt."  The particular receipt I'm modifying, is attributed to Mrs. Richard C. Mullin (Hasell Townsend).

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