FRIDAY FOOD FEATURE: Traditional Durban Curry

FRIDAY FOOD FEATURE: Traditional Durban Curry

by The Oyster Box Hotel Executive Chef Kevin Joseph

No visit to the bustling city of Durban in South Africa’s magnificent province of KwaZulu-Natal would be complete without enjoying a real Durban Curry.  Curry was introduced to Natal over 150 years ago by Indians who worked in the sugar cane fields. The word ‘curry’ comes from the Tamil word ‘kari’ which can be translated as ‘sauce’.

Dining at the Oyster Box Hotel and Spa in Umhlanga, Durban

The distinct flavours of traditional Indian cooking, which were taken over by British settlers and the Zulus, have changed over time to make the ‘Durban Curry’ which is now famous around the world.   Durban curries, which are usually spicier and hotter than usual curries, are coloured red with chillies, tomatoes and cayenne pepper.

Curry experts of Durban claim that a typical Durban Masala curry powder has about 12 different ingredients in the blend, namely ground coriander, cinnamon, cumin, curry leaves, fennel seed, dried chilies and cayenne pepper, as well as ginger and garlic. The great variety of tasty Durban curries include meals made from beef, chicken, fish and prawns as well as vegetables, with the most popular choice being lamb or mutton.

The Palm Court at The Oyster Box Hotel and Spa in Umhlanga, Durban


Recipe for the Famous Lamb Curry offered at The Oyster Box Hotel & Spa in Umhlanga, Durban

– Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour

– Serves: 4 people


◾1 kg leg of lamb or shoulder (or 1 kg chicken), cubed

◾75 ml oil

◾1 onion, diced

◾2 cloves

◾2 cinnamon sticks (10 cm long)

◾20 ml medium strength masala curry powder

◾1 teaspoon salt

◾10 ml crushed garlic and ginger

◾4 curry leaves

◾5 ml whole fennel seeds

◾250 ml water (one cup)

◾2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half

◾1 medium tomato, skinned and diced

◾Coriander (dhania) leaves for garnishing.


1. Wash cube meat and drain the water.

2. Heat the oil and add the diced onion, cloves as well as cinnamon sticks.

3. Add the famous masala powder mix, stir and add meat to the pot.

4. Add salt, garlic and ginger, curry leaves and fennel seeds. Combine all ingredients together by stiring.

5. Allow the mixture to cool on a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 30 minutes.

6. As excess water and juices evaporate, add the additional cup of water, followed by the tomato and potatoes.

7. When both vegetables and meat have cooked for about 30 minutes, simmer on high heat for 5 minutes.

8. Garnish the meal with coriander and serve with rice, green salad and roti.

Executive Chef Kevin Joseph’s excellent curry powder mix is a carefully guarded secret but here are some hints…

The Oyster Box Curry Masala Mix (100ml):

– Cumin

– Coriander

– Fennel

– Turmeric

– Mild Masala

– Aniseed

– Cinnamon

– Medium Masala

– Cardamom.

Ocean Terrace at The Oyster Box Hotel and Spa in Umhlanga, Durban


Enjoy delicious seaside dining in an exclusive setting at The Oyster Box Hotel & Spa or try your cooking skills with this delicious recipe.

South African Tourism Company

Tel:    +27 (0)21 794 9050

Mobile: +27 (0)827 823 142

Fax:    +27 (0)21 794 9995




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