7 curries that show how much South Africans love spice

South Africans love curry. Whether it’s mild and yellow, red and hot, or amber and aromatic, nothing quite makes our eyes light up as much as a steaming pot of curry. Being in the belly of winter, we thought it the best time for a closer look at the excellent curries we’re known for.

1. Malay curry

Cape Malay cuisine has given us many treats we’re forever grateful for, like bobotie and koesisters – and their fragrant curries are no exception. Filled with a melee of spices – like cumin, turmeric and cardamon, each of which has its own job to do – and finished off with flavours like garlic, ginger and coriander, there is nothing quite like this versatile curry. It’s eaten with rotis, yellow rice or naan bread.

Cape Town Fish Market's Malay seafood curry. Photo supplied.

Cape Town Fish Market’s Malay seafood curry. Photo supplied.

2. Durban curry

You’ve haven’t had hot curry until you’ve had Durban curry. The fiery colour alone alerts you that this isn’t a meal to be eaten lightly – especially when it’s stuffed into half a loaf of hollowed-out bread to make what’s commonly known as bunny chow.


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3. Tripe curry

This one, even amongst locals, is contentious. Detractors may blanche at the thought, but devotees lovingly remind everyone that it is a delicacy to be respected. Also known as mogodu, this dish is made with different parts of a cow’s stomach. The innards are cleaned thoroughly before being boiled for hours and then cooked into a delicious curry sauce. It can be served with pap for a truly authentic experience.

4. Bean curry

Beans don’t judge you. If they’re all you have to add to your meal, they’ll be there for you. If you’re vegetarian, they’ll make sure you don’t miss out on your protein. If you’re adding them to meat, they’ll shine whilst also complementing the star of the dish. Either way, they’re delicious and filled with nutrition.

5. Samp curry

The starch is taken care of in this hearty and budget-friendly curry. Much like beans (with which samp is also traditionally eaten), samp can replace the protein or can be added to it along with vegetables. It makes for a filling and tasty alternative to the usual roti or rice combination.


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6. Pickled fish

Though not technically a curry, pickled fish is known in Afrikaans as ‘kerrievis’, which translates to curried fish. This is another recipe that comes from Cape Malay cuisine and is full of cumin, masala, turmeric, allspice, cloves and a good dash of vinegar. It can be made with Cape salmon, yellowtail or even hake, and is traditionally eaten around Easter time alongside a hot cross bun.

7. Butter chicken

Butter chicken is not strictly a curry and it’s not strictly South African, either – but we love it enough to make up for both. Boneless chicken breasts are cubed and marinated in a flavoursome marinade of yoghurt and various spices. They’re then cooked with garlic, ginger, stock, curry leaves and, of course, good quality butter until the chicken is as tender as the butter itself. It’s served with rice or naan bread.



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