An India Twist Of Heat And Spice
There are over one million Indian people who live in Durban, South Africa, which is why Durban is often referred to as the largest “Indian” city outside of India. Because of this, many of the dishes originating from this region have an Indian twist of heat and spice. The variety of herbs and spices that came to South Africa from India were married with fresh local produce to inspire a unique taste sensation specific to this region and its people.
We at Rajah have put together a ‘how-to’ for quintessential Durban style chicken curry. Read on for expert tips, ingredients, and secrets to make your Durban chicken curry taste better than your mother-in-law’s.
Five Things That Make Durban Chicken Curry Special
1. Heat. A Durban curry is hotter than its British relatives like Korma or Butter Chicken. This is because a Durban chicken curry recipe typically incorporates cayenne pepper, a garam masala spice blend and fresh chillies whether green or red. This puts a Durban curry on a similar heat level to a Vindaloo or Jalfrezi. A good place to start would be to follow this Flavourful Chicken Curry recipe but to add fresh chopped chilli for an extra kick.
2. Tomatoes. The chicken pieces in a traditional Durban chicken curry are usually left to marinate in a tomato broth. This gives it a lovely rich reddish colour and also adds a little sweetness to the dish. To make your curry more ‘tomatoey’, add a dash of paprika and a tablespoon of tomato paste before browning your meat.
3. Curry Leaves. Curry leaves always make an appearance in every authentic Durban-style chicken curry. Some recommend that they are roasted and blended with other spices like cumin seeds and coriander to make a unique spice blend, whilst others just add them to the pot whole to work their flavour magic.
4. Cinnamon. Cinnamon offsets the acidic nature of the tomato broth and gives the dish a sweet, nutty taste. You can experiment using cinnamon sticks whole or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, as both will provide a delectable layer of flavour to the dish.
5. Accompaniments. A good Durban curry is always accompanied by a sambal, for example a carrot salad, or fresh, chopped tomato with onion or cucumber. These, together with a refreshing raita (sour milk mixed with cucumber or herbs) can help cool down the hottest of curries. If you can take the heat you might want to add a zingy chutney, or pickles known as atchar (mango is one of Durban’s most popular pickles).
Secrets To The Perfect Sauce
Any curry connoisseur will agree that the most important element to a Durban chicken curry is the sauce. There are a few essentials that you simply cannot go without when creating your Durban chicken curry recipe.
• Good quality chicken stock. Using quality chicken stock as a base goes a long way in adding savoury taste notes to serve as a base in which the meat slow cooks. This Spicy Chicken Curry uses a stock pot which combines the flavours of the garlic, chicken and tomatoes beautifully.
• Well-balanced, aromatic curry powder. This is an essential component of the overall flavour of your dish. Make sure to use a high-quality curry powder with just the right heat. As Durban curry is famous for being fiery, you won’t go wrong with Rajah Hot Curry Powder.
• Cream, milk, or plain yoghurt. If you are less tolerant of heat, read on. Only 50mls of fresh cream added to a pot of Durban curry can drastically reduce the heat factor and make the dish more enjoyable for the whole family. Milk can also be used to make your curry creamier. If you are looking for a healthier alternative or want to serve your curry to your children, a dollop of plain yogurt not only looks beautiful when served on a Durban curry, but can also counteract the heat.
• Slow cooking. To achieve an incredible dish there is nothing that beats slow cooking. A Durban curry needs time for the chicken to absorb the numerous taste profiles that you added through the spices, herbs, and vegetables. Slow cooking your sauce is never a waste of time because a curry only intensifies when it is left to simmer away on the stove.
A Note On Leftovers
So, you’ve impressed your relatives with a Durban chicken curry recipe fit for a Rajah? Yet, you have a Tupperware of leftovers in the fridge and no idea what to do with it? Don’t despair. A curry only gets better with time and will undoubtedly taste even better the day after preparing it.
To make something new out of your leftover curry, and for an authentic Durban experience, serve it in a bunny chow. For the ultimate bunny chow, try chicken livers instead of chicken pieces when making your curry. Get inspired with this Curried Chicken Liver Bunny Chow recipe for something a little different. If a bunny chow doesn’t do it for you, serve your leftover curry on toast with a poached egg on top and a sprinkle of coriander.
Whether freshly prepared or leftover from yesterday, a Durban chicken curry never disappoints. We hope these helpful hints will nudge your next curry in the right direction.