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babotie-stuffed baked capsicums

Some girls lose their $hit over a French accent, but I'd take a South African accent over it any day.  South African accents are the only reason I watch the cricket, and when Leonardo nailed it in Blood Diamond I went so weak at the knees I could barely walk for a week.  

Apart from the accent, another thing I love from South Africa is their national dish, babotie.  I know what you're thinking, the name sounds so darn cute.  But don't underestimate the humble babotie - the cocktail of spices and curry in this moussaka-like meal will give you a slap right across the face.  Well, the tastebuds anyway.

There are countless variations of this South African classic.  Here's my take...

baboutie-stuffed baked capsicums
Serves 6

3 large red capsicums, cut in half, seeds and stalk removed
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
500g lamb mince
2 tbsp madras curry paste (I used Pataks)
1/2 tsp allspice
2 whole cloves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil 
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup sultanas
6 floury potatoes (Golden Delight or Dutch Creams are good options), peeled, quartered
2 bay leaves
30g butter
Splash of milk
1 egg
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 180ºC.  Line a baking tray with foil.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.  Add bay leaves, then cook 15-20 mins or until potatoes are soft when stabbed with a fork.  Drain, discarding bay leaves.  Add butter and milk and mash well until smooth.  Stir through egg until well combined, then season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and sauté 3-5 mins until softened and opaque.  Add curry paste and all herbs and stir to combine.  Add mince, breaking up lumps with a spoon.  Cook, stirring regularly, for 6-8 mins or until mince has browned.  Remove from heat, stir through sultanas.  Season with salt and pepper.  If you can find the cloves at this point (think Where's Wally style) then remove them.  If not, you might want to warn your fellow diners - a whole clove is never a pleasant surprise in a meal!

Arrange capsicums, cut side up, on the prepared tray.  Divide mince mixture evenly between the capsicums.  Bake for 20 mins, capsicum will become soft.  Remove from oven, spoon potato mixture evenly over the mince-filled capsicums.  Turn your oven to the grill setting, increase heat to 220ºC and grill capsicums for 5 mins or until the potato becomes golden forms a nice crust.  Serve immediately.

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