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Cape Malay curry

A harmonious blend of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors, with tender pieces of chicken enveloped in a fragrant tomato-based sauce, highlighted by the distinct Cape Malay masala.


3 lb chicken (chicken pieces, bone-in, better skinless)
2 onion (large, peeled, finely chopped)
3 clv garlic (peeled, minced)
1 T ginger (freshly grated ginger)
2 pce cinnamon (cinnamon sticks)
2 cardamom (cardamom pods)
2 t turmeric (turmeric powder)
2 t cumin (ground cumin)
2 t coriander (ground coriander)
1 t chili powder (or to taste)
1 t mustard (mustard seeds)
1 t fennel (fennel seeds)
1 cn tomato (chopped tomatoes, 1 lb can)
1 T jam (optional, apricot jam)
1 c liquid (chicken stock or water)
  salt (to taste)


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown.

Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cloves. Fry for a minute until aromatic.

Add the chicken pieces and brown them on all sides.

Sprinkle in the turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, mustard seeds, and fennel seeds. Stir well to coat the chicken evenly with the spices.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, apricot jam (if using), and chicken stock. Stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Season with salt to taste and remove the whole spices if desired. Serve warm.

Total time
1 hour, 25 minutes
Cooking time
Preparation time
6 servings


Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving if you wish. Serve the curry over steamed basmati rice or with traditional roti. A side of sambals (a mix of chopped tomato, onion, and cucumber) complements the dish well.


Vegetarian curry: Substitute chicken with chickpeas and vegetables like carrots and potatoes.

Seafood twist: Use firm fish or prawns instead of chicken, reducing the cooking time accordingly.

Fruity flavor: Add dried apricots or a spoonful of mango chutney for a sweeter curry.


South African cuisine

poultry, vegetables, bulk
main course, spicy, moderate
South African food recipes
Food in Africa