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The authentic flavor of Cape Malay chicken curry

By January 12, 2024FinGlobal

The authentic flavor of Cape Malay chicken curry

January 12, 2024


Food plays a vital role in experiencing different cultures. South Africa, with its diverse culinary offerings, has a standout dish: Cape Malay chicken curry recipe. The rich blend of cultures and flavors makes it a must-try.

The origins of Cape Malay chicken curry

Curry dishes have long been a staple in South Africa, brought by Indian laborers who were also brought to the country by Dutch colonizers. The Cape Malay version of chicken curry has evolved over time, incorporating local ingredients and techniques. Today, it is considered a quintessential dish in Cape Town and is often served at special occasions and celebrations.

The ingredients

The key to any good dish is the quality of its ingredients, and the Cape Malay Chicken Curry is no exception. The dish typically includes chicken pieces on the bone, onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and a variety of spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chillies. However, what sets this curry apart is the addition of dried fruits, such as apricots and raisins, which add a subtle sweetness to balance out the spicy flavors.

Delve deeper into chicken curry Cape Malay style

Unveil the secrets of this enticing dish that promises to take your taste buds on an exciting journey of flavors. Below, we will guide you through the authentic recipe of the Cape Malay chicken Curry, helping you recreate this South African culinary gem at home.

  • 1 kg of chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks, skin on)
  • 250 g of sliced white onion
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 60 g of freshly grated ginger
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 2 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp of chilli powder
  • 4 lightly crushed cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1.5 cups of chicken stock
  • 200 g of crushed tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks


  1. Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat and add sliced onions. Fry until golden brown. Add salt and sugar, and stir.
  2. Add grated ginger, and when fragrant, add chicken pieces.
  3. Once the chicken has some color, add crushed garlic and cook for a minute. Then, add the spices and stir until fragrant.
  4. Pour in the chicken stock, stir, and cook covered on low heat for 40 minutes. Add extra water if needed.
  5. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked.
  7. If the sauce has reduced too much, add extra water and adjust seasoning.
  8. You can serve the curry with the potatoes now, or for enhanced flavor, let it sit overnight. If storing overnight, allow the curry to cool before refrigerating.
  9. Reheat the curry the next day and serve with Cape Malay yellow rice.

Serving suggestions

Cape Malay Chicken Curry is typically served with rice, but it can also be enjoyed with roti, a type of Indian flatbread. The dish is often accompanied by sambals, which are condiments made with various combinations of onions, tomatoes, chilies, and other spices. Some popular sambals that pair well with this curry include tomato and onion sambal, pineapple and cucumber sambal, and mango chutney.

A dish with many variations

As mentioned earlier, the Malay curry powder is often combined with other spices to create unique variations of this dish. Some popular additions include cardamom, mustard seeds, and fenugreek. Some recipes also call for the use of yoghurt or cream in addition to coconut milk. These variations add an extra layer of complexity to the dish, making it a fun and versatile recipe to try.

A cultural experience in a bowl

Cape Malay Chicken Curry is more than just a dish; it’s a cultural experience. Every bite is an explosion of flavors that tells the story of South Africa’s diverse history. By trying this traditional recipe, you not only get to enjoy its deliciousness but also gain insight into the country’s vibrant culture. It’s a dish that brings people together and creates unforgettable memories.

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