Vegetarian Bobotie: A Delicious South African Dish

Are you looking for a warm and comforting vegetarian dish that is packed with exotic flavors? Look no further than vegetarian bobotie, the plant-based version of the beloved South African classic. This lentil bobotie recipe stays true to the traditional flavors of bobotie while offering a nutritious and delicious alternative. In this article, we will explore the origins of bobotie, the reasons why you will love this vegetarian version, the ingredients required, and a step-by-step guide on how to prepare this mouthwatering dish.

Reasons to Love

There are several reasons why you will fall in love with this vegetarian bobotie recipe:

  • Delicious and Comforting: This dish is a true delight for your taste buds. It combines the flavors of lentils, butternut squash, garlic, ginger, and spices, creating a flavorful and comforting meal.
  • Loaded with Plant Fiber: Packed with lentils and other veggies, this bobotie is rich in plant fiber, keeping you fuller for longer and promoting a healthy digestive system.
  • Easy to Prepare: With simple ingredients and clear instructions, this vegetarian bobotie is easy to make, even for novice cooks.
  • Versatile Pairing: Bobotie pairs well with a variety of side dishes, making it a versatile option for any meal. Whether you serve it with rice, salad, or bread, it complements other dishes beautifully.

Now that we know why this dish is worth trying, let’s delve into the details of what bobotie is and its rich history.

What is Bobotie?

Bobotie holds a special place in South African cuisine and is often considered the country’s national dish. Its origins can be traced back to Cape Malay cuisine, which emerged when the Malay people were brought to South Africa as slaves in the 17th century. Over time, Cape Malay cuisine, including bobotie, integrated flavors from European settlers and developed its own unique characteristics.

Cape Malay cuisine is known for its fruity and mildly spicy flavors. Bobotie, in particular, offers a rich and flavorful taste, combining sweet and savory elements. Traditionally, bobotie is made with minced meat, but the vegetarian version we’re exploring today substitutes lentils for meat, providing a healthy and sustainable alternative.


To prepare this vegetarian lentil and butternut bobotie, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Brown lentils, boiled until cooked through
  • Butternut squash, cubed and boiled
  • Two slices of bread (traditionally, old slices are used)
  • Cooking oil of choice
  • Medium-sized onions, cubed
  • Fresh garlic and ginger, crushed or finely minced
  • Seasoning and condiments: curry powder, black pepper, salt, apricot chutney, brown sugar
  • Tomato and chili sauce or paste
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried fruit: goji berries, dates, raisins, chopped apricots, or sultanas
  • Large eggs
  • Milk

Please note that a printable recipe card with exact measurements can be found at the bottom of this article.

How to Make Lentil and Butternut Bobotie

Follow these step-by-step instructions to prepare a delicious vegetarian lentil and butternut bobotie:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Heat the oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot or pan.
  • Stir in the cubed onions and fry until translucent.
  • In a bowl, soak the bread in water until soft. Once soft, drain any excess water and set aside.
  • Add the crushed garlic and ginger to the pot and fry until fragrant.
  • Next, add the curry powder, black pepper, salt, tomato paste, chili paste, half of the bay leaves, and apple cider vinegar. Mix well.
  • Add the cubed butternut squash, cooked lentils, soaked bread, apricot chutney, brown sugar, dried fruit, and diced tomatoes. Combine all the ingredients thoroughly.

  • Cook the mixture over medium heat until much of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Transfer the cooked mixture to a baking dish.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the large eggs, milk, salt, and pepper to prepare the custard.
  • Pour the custard mixture over the lentil and butternut mixture in the baking dish.
  • Decorate the dish with the remaining bay leaves.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the custard is properly cooked through and set.
  • Serve your vegetarian lentil bobotie warm, alongside some yellow rice or your preferred side dish.

Useful Tips

Consider the following tips to enhance your bobotie-making experience:

  • Be careful not to overcook the lentils when boiling them. They should be soft but still have a slight bite, ensuring they don’t turn mushy.
  • If you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for up to two days or freeze them for up to one month.
  • For a dairy-free option, substitute the milk in the custard with your favorite plant-based milk, such as almond milk.


Vegetarian bobotie offers a delightful twist on the traditional South African dish, providing a delicious and nourishing option for plant-based eaters. By incorporating lentils and butternut squash, this recipe is packed with flavors and nutrients. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting your culinary journey, vegetarian bobotie is an accessible and tasty dish worth trying.

So, why wait? Gather the ingredients, follow the instructions, and enjoy the mouthwatering vegetarian lentil and butternut bobotie today!


1. Can I use other types of squash instead of butternut squash?

Absolutely! If you don’t have butternut squash on hand, you can substitute it with other varieties, such as Hokkaido or acorn squash.

2. Can I make bobotie in advance?

Yes, you can prepare bobotie ahead of time. Simply refrigerate the leftovers for up to two days or freeze them for future enjoyment. Just make sure to reheat thoroughly before serving.

3. Are there any dairy-free alternatives for the custard?

Yes, if you prefer a dairy-free version, you can use your favorite plant-based milk, such as almond milk, in the custard mixture.

4. Can I customize the dried fruit in the recipe?

Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with different dried fruits according to your taste preferences. You can use goji berries, dates, raisins, chopped apricots, or sultanas to add a touch of sweetness and texture to the dish.

5. What are some side dishes that go well with bobotie?

Bobotie pairs well with various side dishes. Some popular options include yellow rice, couscous, roasted vegetables, or a fresh green salad. Choose your favorite accompaniments to create a complete and satisfying meal.

For more interesting articles, visit the website: All New Recipe

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