Thursday, January 4, 2018

Durban Chicken Curry from South Africa

Durban curry is different to any curry you would get in India.  It's red in colour and the different spices give it a complexity of flavour that will have you jumping up for seconds.  When the British owned South Africa, they brought in thousands of labourers from India in the late 1880's to early 1900's to work on their sugar cane plantations.  Food was not plentiful, so the new immigrants had to adapt their traditional curries to the ingredients they could source locally.  Traditionally, Durban curry is very hot.  However, many are unable to cope with the heat.  This recipe is for a medium curry that might just make your nose run a little while eating it.  Increase the chili powder or add fresh red chilies if you are brave enough to make it hotter!
1 kg chicken pieces
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 onions finely chopped
1 small bunch coriander finely chopped
2 cups water
4 potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
1 teaspoon ginger finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Cornflour for thickening if needed
salt and pepper to taste
Optional to add in a cup of frozen peas or frozen mixed vegetables
Put the oil in a large pot and saute the onion, garlic and ginger on a low heat.  Add in the dry ingredients (spices and masala).  If it starts to catch on the bottom of the pot, add in a little of the water so that you make a paste.  Increase the heat and add the chicken pieces and allow them to cook a little so that the chicken starts to change colour.  Pour in the rest of the water.  Cover the pot and let the chicken curry cook on a medium heat for ten minutes.  Add the potatoes, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree.  Add salt and pepper according to taste.  If you want to add in the frozen vegetables, now would be the time to do so.  Reduce the heat a little and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve on a bed of rice or if you want to do something different and very traditionally Durban - you can make a Bunny Chow.  Garnish with the chopped coriander.
Serves 4-6 people
To make a Bunny Chow you will need a fresh loaf of unsliced bread.  Divide the loaf of bread into 3-4 large chunks.  Using a sharp knife, hollow out each chunk leaving a thick wall around the sides and the bottom.  Spoon the curry into the hollowed out chunk of bread.  Place the bread you removed from the inside on top of the Bunny Chow as a lid.  Eat with your fingers.
Cindy Vine is the author of Not Telling, Hush Baby and Defective.  Her books are available in both Kindle and Paperback format on