Cape Malay Chicken Curry by Zurie

Total Time
1hr
Prep 10 mins
Cook 50 mins

This, like all Cape Malay curries, has as many interpretations as there are cooks! Cape Malay curries are usually not biting and strong, but rather an aromatic mixture of spices. Naturally this depends on the individual cooks, and the curry can be made much stronger by adding more chillis (hot peppers). This recipe is my way of cooking a chicken curry, more or less: it took some discipline to measure and write down how much of each spice I use! So obviously this is a dish you change to your taste. About salt: I like using a natural sea salt, like Maldon flakes or our own Khoisan sea salt. But if you use these natural salts you need more of it than when using processed table salts. Please adjust to taste. Do not expect the burning curries of India! If you can manage my spice mixture this is a most delicious dish, and the longer it stands, the better it gets, so is perfect for making a day ahead, chilling, and re-heating. But I know that across ponds these recipes are often "lost in translation"!!

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 onion, medium, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 12 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes (you can use fresh hot peppers to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel, ground (or 4 teaspoons whole fennel seeds)
  • 1 12 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, fresh, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 12-1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 15 cardamom pods (whole pods)
  • 12 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (available from Indian shops, choose mild)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 12 lbs chicken pieces (best to cut up a medium chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar (I like sticky muscovado)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 -3 teaspoons salt (or more, depending on type of salt)

Directions

  1. Gather your spices together, and peel and chop the ginger. Put the 10 spices -- from the coriander seeds down to the garam masala -- in a mortar and pestle or even in a coffee bean grinder. Mash them together so the cardamom pods burst and the whole thing becomes a mess of spices.
  2. Then heat the oil in a pot, add the onion over fairly high heat, and stir now and then, for a few minutes. Add the spices you mashed or grinded, and stir. You might need to add more oil: spices slurp up oil as they fry. Don't worry, you will be able to skim it off again later.
  3. Stir and fry spices and onion for about 2 minutes. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and stir. The heat should be high enough so everything bubbles together.
  4. Add the chicken pieces, and stir to coat well, keeping heat high until everything is bubbling away.
  5. Turn heat way down until it just simmers, put on a lid, and cook for about 20 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle over the garlic, sugar, lemon juice and salt.
  7. Simmer with lid at a small angle, for about 15 minutes more.
  8. Stir through, taste the sauce, and adjust seasoning to taste.
  9. Please note that it is easy, near the end of cooking, to skim off extra oil/fat with a spoon, as it collects in corners of the pot. On my photos you can see there isn't much oil or fat on the dish.
  10. Serve this with rice. Tonight I served this with green vegetables and what you might call "grits and beans".
Most Helpful

5 5

Oh my, Zurie! This is a Superbowl of flavors! I swear, once I opened my little grinder after powdering these spices, I swear I could dab it behind my ears and wear it as perfume! OH, AHH! I used bonelss skinless chicken breasts, so seared them in the pan in just a little oil, then removed from the pan to a platter. Then I followed steps 2-5 with just the sauce to allow these wonderful flavors to cook. After adding the garlic, lemon juice and brown sugar to the sauce, I added back the chicken breasts and let them simmer for the 15 minutes. I used only 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in the original spice mix, and it was quite spicy for me. I couldn't get the cardamom pods in my small town, but I had cardamom seeds, and used a heaping teaspoon of these to the mix before grinding. Zurie, this was fantastic, and my house still smells wonderful! Bill and I are looking forward to leftovers tomorrow after the flavors have married even more!

5 5

This was great! Brough memories of my grand aunt (from Cape Town) cooking! Serving this to friends I got compared to some of the best Restaurants in the City. Thank you!

5 5

What can I say? Just wonderful. The whole house was filled with the fragrance of the spices, the finished curry was yummy to say the least and indeed even better the next day. Froze two servings and yes, it freezes very well. Used bone-and skinless chicken thighs which I cut up in bite-size pieces. Used kosher salt and found that a scant teaspoon was just right. The garam masala I always use is of the "hot" kind and I was a little afraid that it would "kill" the rest of the spices. Not to worry, it went very well together. Was also worried that the curry would be too dry with just one can of chopped tomatoes as liquid. On the contrary, just enough sauce to mix with the rice. I should not worry so much.........it turned out perfect! This will certainly be made again. Thanks for posting.