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Cape Boboti & Brandy Pudding

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A dish of curried, minced beef topped with a baked custard, spiked with lemon or bay leaves? What manner of dish is this, you ask? Here in the Cape, bobotie is considered to be one of our best indigenous dishes, enjoyed equally cold as hot. C Louis Leipoldt, writer, poet and a fine doctor and surgeon, also held the distinction of being a gourmet. A true son of the Cape, he greatly appreciated the fare turned out by many a local chef. He pointed out that bobotie was known in Europe as far back as the Middle Ages when the Crusaders brought tumeric from the East and here is a 17th century recipe made from mutton and pork fillet: “Take cooked pig’s and sheep tongues; skin and pound them to a paste; mix with it the yolk of two eggs, a crushed chilli, a bay leaf, half a dozen allspice, a few coriander seeds, a teaspoonful of rum, a tablespoonful of tamarind water in which you have mixed some turmeric powder, and half a cupful of coconut milk, with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over it a mixture of egg yolk and cream, mixed with a little turmeric powder; stick a few blanched almonds on top and bake in the oven. “This is much improved if pounded almonds are incorporated in the paste. It is served with boiled rice, sambals and chutney.”

Cape boboties were usually made with minced leftover mutton. Today, most cooks use more affordable beef. Leipoldt’s description of a bredie defies improving upon: ...a combination of meat and vegetables so intimately impregnated with the vegetable flavour while the vegetables have benefited from the meat fluids ... neither dominates but both combine to make a delectable whole that is a triumph of co-operative achievement.”

Here on the West Coast for a short spell in mid-winter, we can harvest the wild cabbage (‘veldkool’) Trachyandra falcata to make an indigenous bredie (or stew). Pick only the unopened flower buds and soak well in salted water prior to preparation. Using lamb rib or loin chops with a goodly bit of fat on them, brown in a heavy-bottom cast-iron pot. Add sliced onion and some garlic (the wild garlic Tulbaghia alliacea is a good alternative because of its strong flavour). Add potatoes, either whole or sliced, depending on their size, a lay the cleaned, drained ‘veldkool’ on top. Cook ever so slowly on the stove, lid on, until the meat is tender. Bredies should never be stirred. Finally, just before serving, add a handful of indigenous sorrel (‘suring’), the yellow-flowered Oxalic pes-caprae. And then to finish off the meal, a slice of Old Cape Brandy Pudding:

Brandy Pudding

  • 250g dates, chopped
  • 3ml bicarbonate of soda
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 120g butter
  • 180ml castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml cake flour
  • 3ml baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125ml chopped pecan nuts or walnuts
  • 125ml cake flour
  • 5ml ground cinnamon
  • 5ml ground ginger
  • 250ml water
  • 375ml sugar
  • Few sticks cinnamon
  • 5 cloves
  • Few strips orange or lemon
  • Dollop of butter
Pour boiling water and bicarbonate of soda onto the dates and allow to stand. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add 250ml flour, sifted with baking powder and salt. Stir this into the date mixture, together with the nuts.

Lastly, mix in 125ml flour, sifted with cinnamon and ginger. Pour into a well-buttered pie dish.Bake at 180°C for 45 minutes. Cool slightly and pour over the syrup.

Boil all these ingredients together for 10 minutes. Add 125ml brandy and pour over the tart. Serve with whipped cream.

Baskets of goodies
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