Mild Curried Lamb Casserole with Almonds


Commonly referred to as bobotie in its native South Africa, this everyday dish is typically served over rice, with assorted accompaniments.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (1 ½-inch piece)

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

  • 2 pounds ground lamb

  • ½ cup slivered almonds (1 ounce), toasted

  • 4 slices white bread, crusts removed

  • 1 ¾ cups whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • 4 large eggs

  • teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 4 fresh or dried bay leaves

  • Accompaniments, such as cilantro sprigs, lemon or lime wedges, mango chutney, sliced banana, and unsweetened coconut flakes

  • Cooked rice, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, then onions and fresh ginger, and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes. (Reduce heat if vegetables brown too quickly.) Mix turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom, and ground ginger in a small bowl, then stir into onions. Add lamb, and cook, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in almonds, and cook for 2 minutes more.

  2. Tear bread into large pieces, and place in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup milk and 3/4 teaspoon salt, and let stand until milk is absorbed. Add bread mixture to lamb, and cook, stirring frequently, until bottom of pan begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in apricot preserves and lemon juice, scraping up browned bits from bottom. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.

  3. Spoon lamb into a 6-cup baking dish. Whisk eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest, and remaining 1 1/2 cups milk in a medium bowl. Pour over lamb. Place bay leaves in dish, pressing into filling. Bake until custard is set around edges and center is no longer runny, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with desired accompaniments and rice.

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