Book Review: Curry – Stories and Recipes across South Africa

Words: Crush

If you’re a fan of a good curry (and really, who isn’t?), then this is the recipe book for you. “Curry – Stories and Recipes across South Africa” is not only filled with every kind of curry you can imagine finding on home soil, but it is also a storybook about the people to whom these recipes mean so much.

Journalist, and 5th generation South African of Indian descendant, Ishay Govender-Ympa travels across the country highlighting the people, places, and culture of South Africa through this cuisine. She travels from Bo Kaap to Limpopo, from Qunu to Calvinia, collecting stories, experiences and recipes along the way.

The book covers curries with influences from many different cultures and the result is quite literally a melting pot of aromatic recipes ranging from really easy, to a little more complex. You can start at one end of the spectrum and work your way across, finding your favourites along the way.

ISBN-13 : 9780798172370

Try one of these two recipes that feature in the book and enter to WIN A COPY HERE.

Zeiboon’s Masala Chicken

Book Review Curry

This fragrant chicken, which is coated in spices and presents as a ‘dry’ curry, is especially delicious with the skin left on. You can also use skinless pieces, but do use a variety of pieces like the thighs and legs – chicken breast meat alone can get awfully dry. You can also steam or pan-fry the potato cubes if you’d like to use less oil.

Serves: 4 to 6

½ medium onion, halved and sliced
10 ml (2 t) fl our
250 ml (1 C) oil
1,2 kg chicken (with skin), chopped into 8–10 pieces
5 ml (1 t) turmeric
5 ml (1 t) cumin seeds
5 ml (1 t) ground cumin
10 ml (2 t) ginger and garlic paste
10 ml (2 t) red chillies (fresh or dried), coarsely chopped
2,5 ml (½ t) saffron
15 ml (1 T) lemon juice
5 ml (1 t) vinegar
30 ml (2 T) ghee
4 medium potatoes, cut into chunks

Tomato paste
2 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into pieces
10 ml (2 t) tomato paste

To serve
Fresh coriander, basmati
rice and lemon pickle (recipe available in the book)

Dredge the onion in a little flour, shake to cover well and fry in 60 ml (¼ C) of the oil until crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
Coat the chicken with all the spices, lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Mix well. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the ghee in a large, heavy-based saucepan on medium heat.
Add the chicken and turn the heat to high. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and cook without the lid until all the water from the chickenevaporates. Stir regularly.
While the chicken is cooking, add the tomato paste ingredients to a small frying pan and simmer on low heat until the sauce reduces and thickens. This will take about 20 minutes. Season with salt and stir the tomato paste mixture into the chicken.
Heat the remaining oil (you may use more or less) on high in a deep frying pan. Add the potatoes and fry until golden on the outside and soft on the inside. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Add the potatoes to the chicken while still hot and sprinkle the onions over the top.

Vanie’s Slow-cooked Chicken Curry

Book Review Curry
Book Review Curry

Using a curry powder blend (like we did in this recipe), instead of a fiery-hot Durban masala, will produce a paler sauce and cut down on the bite if you don’t feel like that amount of spiciness. Most days Vanie reverts to the masala, though. The addition of mint at the end gives the dish a unique taste and cooking it at a low temperature for a long time ensures a fall-off-the-bone curry.

Serves 4
8 chicken thighs
80 ml (1/3 C) plain yoghurt
45 ml (3 T) juice of finely
grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
8 curry leaves (optional)
30 ml (2 T) masala or curry powder (hot)
5 ml (1 t) turmeric
15 ml (1 T) oil
50 g butter
5 ml (1 t) cumin seeds
5 ml (1 t) coriander seeds
5 ml (1 t) black mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom, crushed
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 chillies, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
250 ml (1 C) boiling water
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
10 ml (2 t) garam masala

To serve
Rice or roti

Preheat the oven to 160 °C.
Place the chicken pieces, yoghurt, ginger juice, garlic, curry leaves, curry powder and turmeric into a large bowl and mix well. Cover and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan on medium heat; add the oil and butter.
Temper the spices – cumin, coriander and black mustard seeds, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick and crushed black cardamom. They will pop and splutter.
Add the onions and chillies and sauté until the onions are light brown
Add the tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
Add the chicken and potatoes, season to taste with salt and add water and mix well.
Cover with a lid and place into the oven for 10 hours.
When the potatoes are cooked, the sauce will have thickened a little from the starch released.
Before serving, add the chopped coriander, mint and garam masala.

For more curry inspiration check out our favourite Indian curry recipes and our favourite Cape Malay curry recipes.

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