Jozi, get some chilli for these chilly nights

What defines a good curry? Is it a matter of region, upbringing or the degree of heat that your palate can handle? If you want to whip out the dictionary, it’s technically a dish of meat and vegetables – or even just vegetables – in a spicy sauce. But curry is worth far more than the sum of its parts. There are few things as tantalising as the aroma that rises from a fresh pot of curry filled with herbs, spices and pangs of nostalgia. Here’s our roundup of five unmissable Joburg spots for when you’re craving a curry’s warm and spicy sauce.

Braised lamb and cabbage at Holi Cow (Fourways)

Regularly updated on Facebook, the menu changes every day and offers six succulent Indian dishes. The cuisine is a home-away-from-home curry experience, which is why you’ll often find those of us with neither the skill nor the time to cook collecting to-go orders. The braised lamb-and-cabbage curry comes highly recommended, with meat that practically melts in your mouth. It’s the perfect dish to collect for your contribution to a pot-luck dinner. Choose your preferred heat level and rice or rotis then prepare to indulge. Holi Cow’s curries are so good that they even receive orders from Durban. The chicken korma also deserves an honourable mention.

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Bunny chow at Dosa Hut (Fordsburg)

Nowhere in Fordsburg will you meet a curry you don’t like. If you’re in the mood for traditional, generously portioned and well-priced North or South Indian curry, head to Fordsburg. Durbanites far from home will find a new favourite bunny chow spot in Dosa Hut. Choose between a bean, chicken, lamb or paneer quarter loaf drenched in the most flavoursome, rich and sufficiently hearty curry you’ll find away from the east coast.

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Crab curry at Sai Thai (Bedfordview)

Run by husband-and-wife team Dennis and Micky Tiu, this is the place to go for the best Thai in town and the incredibly warm service will entice you to stay long after you’ve finished eating. If you’re a first-time visitor, phone ahead and pre-order the soft-shell crab curry, which isn’t on the menu. The spicy gingery sauce with a touch of sweetness is lip-smackingly tasty and the soft shell means you don’t have to work hard for your meat. Don’t forget to start with the perfectly crisp pork money bags.

Mutton karahi at Bismillah (Melville)

Though there are a few branches in Gauteng and the Western Cape, the most consistently good Bismillah can be found in Melville. It feels like a family home inside thanks to the formal dining room-like tables and chairs and the spicy South Asian aromas wafting out of the kitchen. Go for the mutton karahi, a thick and rich tomato-based curry full of green chilli, ginger and buttery and spicy goodness. The portions are generous, with options of standard, extra mutton on the bone or extra boneless mutton. Each forkful is full of tremendous saucy flavour.

The mutton curry at Bismillah

The mutton curry at Bismillah. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Vegetable curry at Brian Lara Rum Eatery (Linden)

Brian Lara Rum Eatery has fast become a firm favourite for its West Indian fare, which you don’t come across often in Joburg. This dish used to be a seafood curry but works even better as a vegetarian offering. It’s a comforting yellow curry of Caribbean spices in coconut milk and coconut cream with lentils, baby marrows, patty pans and carrots. Order with a side of Caribbean rice and beans. (Try not to fill up too much on the welcome snack of pineapple salsa and crackers before you begin.)

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