Beans And Pulses/ Food/ Recipe/ Southern African Food/ Vegan African/Vegetarian

Green Lentil Bobotie (Vegan Recipe)

Lentil Bobotie

If you love trying vegan versions of international dishes, then try my green lentil bobotie (vegan recipe.) It is a protein-packed powerhouse and one hundred percent plant-based. I first developed this recipe for The Spruce Eats about 7 years ago. Wow that’s a long time! It recently disappeared from the internet, I am not sure why. A lovely reader called NikkiNGTwitchers on Instagram alerted me to the fact. Sometimes big websites have to make performance-based decisions on whether to keep a post up or take it down. Thankfully I kept a soft copy in my files so I can post right here.

Recipe Inspiration

I am so glad NikkiNGTwitchers got in touch about the green lentil bobotie (vegan recipe.) She thoroughly enjoyed it when she made it a year ago. So here I am re-posting it for you. Let me add that I was inspired to try this recipe from my Africa on the Blog days. That recipe was just brilliant even though it was vegetarian and not vegan. It was intricately detailed and listed a number of options to follow. I particularly liked the fact that the author gave yellow polenta as an alternative topping. That makes the bobotie a completely one-pot dish, without the need for a side, except maybe a salad.

Nutritional Info and Other Options

A lot has changed since I published this recipe. And I must say that I am bolder in my recipe development and testing. I like infusing my knowledge of cuisines from other parts of Africa into the mix. Other than using the cornstarch-based topping, I have found more alternatives.

In West Africa, we have the seeds of the bitter melon which are essential to the diet. This is called egusi in Nigeria and agushie in Ghana. I use agushie to make a popular Ghanaian dish called palaver sauce. You can check it out in one of my early YouTube videos. They literally look like scrambled eggs when cooked. They are soft on the palate and highly flavourful with slightly bitter notes. Pumpkin seeds are an accessible alternative if you can’t get a hold of agushie. They are oil-rich and highly nutritious. They are also a perfectly natural plant-based source of fats, antioxidants, and fiber amongst other nutrients. Need a seed grinder?

How To Use Pumpkin Seeds As A Topping

To use the seeds simply grind a handful, or more if you like, then add about 150mls of water or vegetable stock. I like to season it to ensure it is full of flavour and pleasant to taste. I also add a dash of turmeric to get that authentic yellow colour. Pour it over your lentil filling, then bake and trust the process.

A Brief History of Bobotie

Bobotie has been recognized as South Africa’s national dish. It is influenced by Cape Malay spices, Dutch settlers, and local cooking customs. This melting pot is the rainbow nation’s national dish and it is easy to see why. Bobotie comes in a wide range of varieties, however, a traditional bobotie is said to have 6 key elements that influence the flavour and texture. The essential ingredients? Curry powder, cinnamon stick, jam or chutney, raisins, bread soaked in milk, and bay leaves. Some would argue that you can’t have a bobotie without almonds either.

Bobotie is normally served with a bowl of spicy yellow rice. I have also paired it with pilau rice, roasted masala spiced root vegetables or enjoyed on its own with a side of salad. In order to accommodate people who have moved towards specialized diets, I have created a vegetarian or vegan alternative.

Pictured is a bobotie topped with the pumpkin seed topping. Do you like the enamel dish?

Vegan Lentil Bobotie

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 3.60 out of 5)
By Freda Muyambo Serves: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 70 minutes

Bobotie is regarded as one of South Africa's national dishes. It is usually made with beef, lamb, or a mixture of meats. It is however possible to completely make this dish vegan-friendly to make a protein-packed plant-based version.


  • To make the green lentil bobotie filling
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 heaped tablespoon mild curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup of green lentils (rinsed first)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of jam or chutney like Mrs Ball's Chutney
  • 450 ml vegetable stock
  • 450 ml water
  • A good handful of raisins or a loose 1/2 cup
  • 2 slices of bread pre-soaked in almond milk
  • To make the vegan custard topping
  • 750 ml Almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons of Bird's custard powder
  • 5 to 6 bay leaves for the top
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower margarine/ vegan spread to make it glisten



1. Fry the onions, garlic and ginger in vegetable oil. Add the cinnamon stick, curry powder and ground coriander to the pan and allow to temper and become fragrant for about 30 seconds.


2. Rinse the green lentils then add then to the pan followed by the 2 heaped tablespoons of jam. Add the vegetable stock and water, bring to the boil then simmer for 40 minutes.


3. While this is simmering, soak 2 slices of bread in some almond milk. Add the soaked bread and the raisins to the bobotie once the lentils are cooked through. Work the soaked bread into the bobotie till smooth.


4. Make the custard by following the instructions on the Bird's custard pack and simmer until ready to use. Place the lentil mixture into a square or round baking dish. Top with the vegan custard.


5. Arrange 5 to 6 bay leaves on top. Melt and pour over the vegetable margerine/ vegan spread to make it glisten and bake at 180 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.


The aroma from the bay leaves will infuse into the custard and fill the room. Serve with rice.


Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 70 minutes Oven time: 80 minutes Total Time: 160 minutes Yield: Serves 4 to 6 people

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  • Reply
    March 22, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    I think I just accidentally touched the 3 star rating & it won’t let me change it. This is easily a 5+!! Ive been sad I didn’t write it down before it disappeared off the Spruce. So happy it’s back out here again!

    • Reply
      April 26, 2022 at 10:05 am

      Thank you so much Sandy. It really warns my heart to know that my veganised recipes are both useful and delicious.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2022 at 7:48 am

    Oh my gosh! I’ve been looking for this recipe for YEARS! The one on the spruce site was my go to boboti, and I could not believe it when it was not only taken down, but my link from Pinterest led me to a beef boboti. I felt like they purposely did a bait and switch.

    I’ve tried so many other lentil versions and they were just not the same. Out of desperation I tried to Google the Spruce one again today and am so happy to have found you posted it again.

    Thanks for this awesome recipe, Freda! It’s delicious and I’m so happy I have finally found it and can thank its creator!

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