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Spicy Durban chicken curry

By July 5, 2021December 14th, 2022FinGlobal

Spicy Durban chicken curry

July 5, 2021


Delicious spicy Durban chicken curry is a sure way to warm you up this winter. Recipes out there are aplenty, but if you’ve never tucked into an authentic Durban curry that you’ve made, now’s the best time to give this Durban curry recipe a try. With this spicy aroma wafting through your kitchen, you’ll be transported back to KZN in no time.

Durban is the heart of SA Indian food. It should come as no surprise since the majority of the Indian population resides in this area. But, you probably want to know what sets a Durban curry apart from other curries. Let me enlighten you. There are certain must-haves, a staple in every Durban Indian home needed for almost every curry:

  • Curry masala (either your mix or bought from a spice store).
  • Tomatoes.
  • Sweet spices (cinnamon, cardamom, or cloves – either whole or ground).
  • The famous bay leaves. 

If we’re honest with you, you won’t come across masala similar to the Durban taste, so instead of rushing off to buy ready-made masala elsewhere, it’s far better to make your own. Therefore, I’ve included a simple recipe at the bottom of the article for your convenience(you’re welcome). 

You should always cook your traditional Durban chicken curry with potatoes, but if you’re looking for an added twist, you can add peas or even beans to your pot of curry. And it’s essential to mention that you can’t just add all the ingredients together; you have to layer the flavours, so every spice sings out loud when you take your first bite. The aroma is sure to waft through your house, bringing your family together to enjoy this meal.  

Most people enjoy South African curry as a family, and if you’re having guests over, this hearty meal is great for lunch or dinner. And, you can still enjoy any leftover curry at brunch the next day.


Spicy Durban chicken curry recipe

Soft chicken pieces still on the bone simmered in a delicious spice gravy, amidst satisfying gravy soaking potatoes, makes our Durban curry mouth-watering. Here’s what you’ll need to get this South African chicken curry recipe started.  




What you need

  • A kilogram of chicken pieces (that’s about eight pieces of chicken)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • One large onion
  • 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • One sprig of curry leaf
  • Two large tomatoes (blanched and grated)
  • Two cinnamon sticks
  • Two bay leaves
  • Two star-aniseed
  • Two black elachie/cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp masala (see recipe at the bottom)
  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • One cup water
  • Four potatoes cut into medium-sized cubes


What to do

Now that you’ve gathered your prized ingredients let’s get cooking. Follow these simple steps.

  • Add your dry spices (cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, star aniseed, and black elachie) to a pot of warm oil. Fry until you get the fragrance of these spices. 
  • Finely chop your onion and add it along with your curry leaf. Sauté until the onion is a golden-brown colour. (The onion gives the curry good flavour when nice and brown, so don’t be afraid to push it.)
  • Add your chicken pieces to the mix (using chicken on the bone will keep the chicken moist and tender while also enriching the flavour of your curry), along with your masala, cumin, coriander, garam masala, fennel, and turmeric. Mix the curry well and turn down the heat. Allow cooking for 10 minutes. You can add a little water to prevent scorching.
  • Then, add the tomatoes. Close the pot and allow the curry to simmer until you’ve cooked the tomatoes.
  • Add your diced potatoes and season with salt, and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. (If you’re adding peas mix, now would be the time to add half a cup of peas, and if you’re adding beans, you’ll want to add a can of double beans when the potatoes are almost ready.)
  • Finally, add a cup of water and allow the curry to simmer on low until the potatoes are soft and tender. (Don’t mix the curry, you don’t want the potatoes becoming mushy in the curry.)
  • Taste the seasoning, and when ready to serve, garnish with coriander.


How to serve it up

Spicy chicken curry is incomplete without rice. Roti is also a nice additional side. Some people may say sambal is needed, but a basic carrot salad with some fresh lettuce, onions, and cucumber seasoned with lemon juice is a great accompaniment.


Homemade masala

And now we get to it. Your all-important masala recipe. (This recipe makes enough masala to last a month if you keep it in an airtight container in a cool place, six months if you freeze it.) 

Just a couple of ingredients that you roast and grind can give you a masala flavour bomb.


What you need

  • 500-gram chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup/25g ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup/25g ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp ground fennel
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


What to do

Roast all your seeds separately in a pan, grind them using a pestle and mortar (a coffee grinder will also do the trick), and mix them in a large bowl. Feel free to play around with the ratios to see what works best for your palate. This masala recipe is a handy starting point to get you your masala mix to add to any curry. 

And there you have it – your spicy Durban chicken curry along with a masala recipe. Durban Indians would consider this version to be more on the mild side. If you want to turn up the heat, go ahead and spice it up.


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