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IMG_7696Spicy and fragrant, this curry will have you reaching for a second serving.
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 chilli.

This recipe hails from the vibrant Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town.

imageThe Bo-Kaap, which lies on the fringes of Cape Town’s city centre, is full of character and colourful houses (pink, orange, lime green and turquoise), many of which are national monuments and date back to the 1750s, with cobbled streets that rise up to meet the lower slopes of Signal Hill on which the suburb lies. There are always children playing in the streets and the haunting call of the muezzin will remind you of exotic destinations such as Istanbul and Cairo. The smell of spices that wafts through open doorways and comes rushing out at you as you walk past Atlas Trading, the local spice emporium, inspired this recipe. A lively suburb, the Bo-Kaap’s inhabitants are a blend of cultures that descend from slaves imported by the Dutch in the 1700s. They came from Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Indonesian Archipelago. Not only were these people incorrectly branded as ‘Cape Malays’ but the Bo-Kaap became known, and remains so today, as the Malay Quarter. There is a strong Muslim influence – more than 90% of the people who live here are Muslim – as many of the early slaves were Muslim scholars and religious leaders, as well as craftsmen and artisans. This is a throwback from the apartheid era when the Bo-Kaap was declared an exclusively Cape Muslim residential area, and people of other religions and ethnicity were forced to leave.

Serve this curry with rice and a variety of sambals and atjars.

IMG_7692IMG_7693IMG_7694IMG_7695IMG_7697Serves 4 to 6


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon hot chilli flakes
2 teaspoons fennel, ground (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
10 cardamon pods (or 2 teaspoons powdered cardamon)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon garam masala
410 g / 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
8 chicken portions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Water, 1/2 cup


Put all the spices in a mortar & pestle and mash them together
Remove the cardamon pod husks and discard
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat
Add the onion and sauté until soft and golden
Add the garlic and all the spices and sauté for about 1 to 2 minutes to release the flavours
Stir in the tomatoes and the tomato paste
Place the chicken portions in the pan
Add  water
Cover and allow to simmer for 45 to 60 minutes
Season to taste
Serve with basmati rice or yellow rice