Fruity Curried Meat Casserole

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Fruity Curried Meat CasseroleThis is the national dish of South Africa. It makes sense. It truly is a sum of trade, immigration, and native culinary attitudes. The Italians of the mid-17th century were huge fans of grinding lower cuts of meat and incorporating the flavors that were being sailed in from the trading routes across the Mediterranean, all thanks to the Dutch East India Company. Hollanders then layered it with a favorite Euro-custard and brought it down to Cape Town. Finally, the South Africans thought it only natural to throw in what they absorbed directly from the Arab states in the form of fruit and spices. Bam. Actual fusion cuisine.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes


  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, diced
  • 4 slices bread (about 5 oz)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 lb ground beef or lamb
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3 Tbsp peach jam
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • Greek-style yogurt for garnish
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, sauté the onion and apple until the onion is translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. To make the filling, place bread chunks in a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour water over the bread chunks until all of the bread is moistened. Using clean hands, mash the bread until it forms a paste, being sure to only use as much water as needed to form a paste. To the mixing bowl, add onion and apple from the skillet, ground meat, and the remaining filling ingredients. Blend until mixed evenly.
  4. Coat the bottom and sides of a baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Scrape the filling from the mixing bowl to the baking dish. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the meat mixture has shrunken slightly. Remove the baking dish from the oven.
  5. Carefully pour any loose liquids and oils from the baking dish. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, press the meat back to the edges of the baking dish in a flat layer.
  6. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the custard ingredients (except the yogurt) and pour over the meat. Return the uncovered baking dish to the oven and continue to bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, or until the top begins to brown.
  7. Allow the casserole to cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving beautiful blocks with a dollop of yogurt and some rice!

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