The recipe originates from the Dutch colonies in Batavia in Muslim Indonesia with the name derived from the Indonesian Bobotok. It is a Muslim Cape-Malay inspired dish known in the Cape since the 17th century when Muslim prisoners of war were brought by Dutch colonizers from Indonesia.
Early recipes had ginger, marjoram and lemon rind; the introduction of curry powder has simplified the recipe by replacing these spices. Some recipes call for chopped onions to be added.
Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruit like raisins or sultanas. It is garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas.
The Bobotie recipe was adopted by Dutch settlers in South Africa (later known as the Afrikaners or Boers) and transported by them all over Africa. Today, recipes for it can be found in Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
There is a variation that was popular among the Boer settlers who settled in Argentina in the early 20th century, in which the bobotie mixture is packed inside a large pumpkin, which is then baked until tender.
Another Muslim-influenced dish that has spiced up people’s cuisine.