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Baked bobotie cigars

There is few other places where South Africa's melting pot of cultures and traditions are combined and complimented more than the kitchen.

On Heritage Day, 24 September, South Africa celebrates its diverse culture, beliefs and traditions.  We have given the traditional Cape Malay dish, Bobotie, an Indian twist to serve up buttery cigar-shaped pastries. These are best served as a crowd-pleasing starter, or as smaller spring rolls as a popular canapé or snack, served with fruity chutney. 

A small batch of bobotie goes a long way with the addition of only one packet of phyllo pastry - you’ll be amazed!

(serves 6 as a snack, prep/cooking time: 1h30)

•    30 ml vegetable oil
•    1 onion, finely chopped
•    10 ml mild curry powder
•    5 ml ground turmeric
•    5 ml ground cinnamon
•    5 ml ground ginger
•    5 ml ground cumin
•    5 ml ground coriander
•    500 g lean beef mince
•    60 fruit chutney (plus more for serving)
•    15 ml Worcester sauce
•    15 ml tomato paste
•    125 ml seedless raisins (optional)
•    1 slice bread, soaked in 1/2 cup water
•    salt & pepper
•    500 g frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
•    125 g butter, melted

Heat the oil in a medium size pot over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent but not brown. Add the curry, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and coriander and fry for 1 minute - the pot will go quite dry. Add the meat and stir with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps. Fry, stirring often, until the meat is not red anymore (but don’t brown it too much). Add the chutney, Worcester sauce, tomato paste and raisins, and stir. Use your hands to break up the soaked bread, then add the bread and the water to the pot and season generously with salt & pepper. Give it a good stir, then turn down the heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir every few minutes to prevent the bottom from burning. You want the saucy bits to start catching and caramelizing, but don’t let it stick too much. Set aside to cool (can be made up to 2 days ahead, kept refrigerated). 

Preheat oven to 220 C.

On a clean working surface, unroll the phyllo pastry. Use a pastry brush to butter each sheet all over, then lay out a line of bobotie filling, using 2 spoons, about as thick as a thin piece of boerewors in the middle of the pastry. Fold the one side over the bobotie filling like an envelope, then tuck in the sides and roll it up like a cigar. Repeat with more pastry layers until you’ve used up all the pastry or all the filling. Arrange the cigars on a lined baking tray, then brush the tops of the cigars with a last bit of butter before baking for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Note: Make any other shapes that you prefer - samoosas or spring rolls will also do.

Serve hot with chutney on the side, with a glass of Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc.

(Recipe: Ilse van der Merwe, Photography: Tasha Seccombe)

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