Butternut & Lentil Bobotie

Whenever there’s a Bobotie cooking in my kitchen, I always have good chutney on hand. My favourite is definitely Mrs. Balls!

Chutney is a delightful condiment that you’ll find in many South African grocery stores or a “padstal” (or farm stall) that’s worth its salt. Find your favourite and serve it with this classic Cape Malay dish – in this case a lighter vegetarian version as delicious as its traditional beef counterpart.

Here’s what goes in:
Olive oil for frying
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons butter
1kg butternut, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt, for seasoning
3 cups lentils, tinned or pre-cooked
2 tablespoons chutney
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon chopped chilli (more if you like it hotter)
2 bay leaves
½ cup water
For the topping:
3 cups buttermilk
4 eggs
Salt and ground nutmeg for seasoning

How to do it:
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Pan fry the chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent. Set this aside and begin roasting the butternut in butter, salt, and cumin. Turn the butternut pieces from time to time making sure they’re all well-coated in the butter and spice. Once caramelised and the butternut has softened, add a bit of water, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. This is to soften the butternut so that you are able to roughly mash it up with a fork.

In a small bowl, combine the lentils with the onions, chutney, remaining spices, and chilli. Add this to the roasting pan and stir it in with the mashed butternut. Insert the bay leaves, one on either side of the dish. (This adds flavour while baking, though you should remove them to serve).

To prepare the topping combine the buttermilk, eggs and salt and mix well using a hand whisk.
Pour this over the butternut and lentils so that it forms a custard-like topping. Sprinkle with a little nutmeg, and pop it into the oven. Bake for around 35 minutes until golden-brown and the egg topping is no longer runny. This can be served with yellow rice, chutney, and sambals of your choice. I love to add a bit of chopped tomato and onion, with a sweet, spicy vinaigrette and fresh coriander.

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