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Cape Malay sauce: a flavorful twist on traditional curry

By December 29, 2023FinGlobal

Cape Malay sauce: a flavorful twist on traditional curry

December 29, 2023


Curry, a beloved dish enjoyed worldwide for centuries, has its roots in India. Created to preserve food and enhance flavor, it has evolved into a diverse range of sauces. One notable variation is the Cape Malay curry sauce, known for its exquisite blend of flavors and aromatic qualities. Originating from South Africa’s Western Cape region, a Cape Malay curry recipe adds a delightful touch to any culinary experience.

The history of Cape Malay cuisine

To grasp the essence of the Cape Malay Sauce, let’s explore the rich history of Cape Malay food. “Cape Malay” refers to a vibrant community with Malaysian, Javanese, and Indonesian heritage. Brought to South Africa as slaves by Dutch colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries, they brought along a treasure trove of culinary traditions that melded with local ingredients and techniques, resulting in a truly distinctive cuisine.

Today, these invaluable Cape Malay recipes have been lovingly passed down from one generation to the next, ensuring that the legacy of this remarkable culinary heritage lives on.

The Cape Malay sauce ingredients

While there are many variations of Cape Malay Curry Sauce, most recipes include a combination of the following ingredients:

  • Onions and garlic: These form the base of the sauce and provide a delicious depth of flavor.
  • Curry powder: A blend of spices such as coriander, cumin, and turmeric gives the sauce its distinct yellow color and bold flavor.
  • Ginger and chilies: These add a touch of heat to the sauce, which can be adjusted according to personal preference.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh or canned tomatoes are often used to add a tangy sweetness to balance out the spices.
  • Coconut milk: This is what gives the sauce its creamy texture and adds a touch of richness to the dish.

Making a curry with a Cape Malay sauce base

To make the Cape Malay Sauce:

  1. Start by sautéing chopped onions and minced garlic in oil until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Then add the curry powder, ginger, and chilies, and cook for a minute until fragrant.
  3. Next, add diced tomatoes and let them cook down until they form a thick sauce.
  4. Finally, pour in the coconut milk and simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  5. You can adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding more coconut milk or water if needed. The end result should be a rich and flavorful sauce with a balance of spices, sweetness, and creaminess.

Serving suggestions

The Cape Malay Sauce is a versatile sauce that can be enjoyed with various accompaniments. Traditionally, it is served over rice or with bread to soak up the delicious sauce. It can also be paired with protein such as chicken, lamb, or fish, or with vegetables for a vegetarian option. Popular additions to the sauce include potatoes, carrots, and peas.
For a complete Cape Malay meal experience, serve the curry sauce alongside other traditional dishes such as breyani (spiced rice casserole) and sambals (chutneys made with fruits and vegetables).

Health benefits of Cape Malay curry sauce

Besides being a flavorful and delicious dish, Cape Malay Curry Sauce also offers numerous health benefits. The spices used in the sauce, such as turmeric and ginger, have anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in antioxidants. Coconut milk is a good source of healthy fats, and tomatoes provide essential vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, by making your own Cape Malay curry sauce at home, you can control the amount of salt and sugar used, making it a healthier option compared to store-bought sauces.


A Cape Malay Sauce offers a delicious and unique variation of a traditional curry that offers a burst of flavor in every bite. Its history, ingredients, and serving suggestions make this dish not only enjoyable but also educational. So, the next time you’re in the mood for curry, consider trying out this delicious and aromatic Cape Malay Curry Sauce. It’s a simple yet delicious way to add some variety to your usual curry dish.

Expert advice for SA expats right here at FinGlobal

FinGlobal gives you access to excellent recipes for South African cuisine you can enjoy at home or abroad, and that’s not all. If you’re considering moving out of the country or are based abroad and need help with your financial and tax emigration needs, look no further than FinGlobal. We offer bespoke services from emigration experts to suit your situation and needs, ensuring your relocation goes as smoothly as possible.

FinGlobal helps you make the most of your international experience and is well-positioned to ensure a successful process, thanks to over ten years of experience. Contact FinGlobal today to discuss your needs and requirements by calling +27 28 313 5600 or emailing


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