We all love a tasty, spicy meal in the colder months. South Africa’s rich culture has allowed us to enjoy food from all over the world, and a specific love for curries. With the right ingredients and some secret tips you may have picked up along the way, curry is a celebrated dish in many families all over the country. A good curry is a great achievement for the one in the kitchen, and making your own naan is a super-easy skill to add to your curry making repertoire. It’s time to get your aromatic spices on! We share a few of our favourite curry recipes.
Butter Chicken by Delicious
Butter chicken recipes originate in India and bring some of the most basic flavours together with a bang. Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani is a chicken curry in a spiced tomato, butter and cream sauce.
This recipe is faster than getting the take-away!
- 3cm piece ginger (15g), grated
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 600g chicken thighs, trimmed
- 2 tbsp tandoori curry paste
- 2 tbs ghee or sunflower oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1½ tsp ground paprika
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
- 1 x 410g can tomato puree
- 300ml pure (thin) cream
- Naan bread, to serve
- Sliced green chilli, to serve
- Fresh coriander, to serve
- Basmati rice, to serve
- Combine ginger, garlic and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the chicken, then add the tandoori paste. Toss to combine. Chill for 30 minutes or overnight.
- Heat a chargrill or barbecue over high heat then, in batches, add the chicken. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until charred.
- Heat the ghee in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened, then add the spices and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Chop the chicken into 3cm pieces, then add to the saucepan. Add the tomato puree and 1½ cups (375ml) water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4-5 minutes, add cream and simmer gently for a further 15-20 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly.
- Serve with naan bread, green chilli, coriander and rice.
Aloo Matar by Vegan Richa
Allo Matar is a favourite in our home. It is also very quick to make – we even refer to it as our “curry in a hurry” on a weeknight. The simple, vegan dish with peas and potato – is filling and tasty.
- Peas: You can use fresh or frozen peas. Make sure not to overcook them or they will lose their pretty colour.
- Potatoes: Make sure to cut them into even-sized cubes so that they are all cooked at the same time. If you chop them too small, they will get mushy and might dissolve in the curry. As a shortcut, or if you have leftovers to use up, you could add boiled potatoes. This takes off some of the cooking time.
- Ground Spices: Cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, garam masala. Flavour central!
- The holy trinity of ginger, onion, and garlic are added to the toasted spices to form the base of the gravy.
- Fresh green chillies add a bit of heat, but don’t worry – this dish is not spicy. Thai green chilli pepper or Serrano pepper works well here. However, if you don’t tolerate any spice, leave it out.
- Fresh tomato puree is added for colour, body, and texture. I make it from scratch pureeing two fresh tomatoes. You could use canned diced tomatoes and puree them or half the amount of canned tomato puree as it is more concentrated.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook for 3 to 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile coarsely crush the seeds in a grinder or mortar and pestle and chop the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli by knife or a food processor.
- Transfer potatoes to a bowl. Heat a tsp of oil over medium heat. Wait till it’s getting hot. Add the crushed seeds and cook for half a minute.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger chilli and cook for 3 mins or until translucent.
- Add the ground spices and mix in. Add tomato puree and cook for 3-4 mins to thicken.
- Add the potatoes, salt and water and cover and cook for 15 mins.
- Check and add more water if needed. Add the peas and half the cilantro and cover and cook until potatoes are tender to preference.
- Taste and adjust salt and flavour. Garnish with more cilantro, pepper flakes.
Lamb Biryani by Panning the Globe
A versatile and aromatic rice dish, that you can make with pretty much any meat or you can make it vegetarian. Perfectly served with fluffy basmati and freshly made naan. The perfect biryani takes skill – behold the ingredients list below. It’s the perfect cooking project for a cold Saturday.
- Boneless leg of lamb (900g), fat trimmed off, cut into 2cm cubes
Marinade for the lamb:
- 5 tablespoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger root (5-inch by 2inch piece or something comparable.)
- 6–7 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- A few grinds of fresh ground black pepper
Soak the rice:
- 2 cups basmati rice (Indian is best)
- CURRY SAUCE Ingredients
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium red or yellow onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce
- 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
- 1 tablespoon paprika (sweet, not hot)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
Ingredients for pre-cooking the rice:
- 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 4 cardamom pods
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) of saffron threads (about 1 gram or .04 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups plain yoghurt
- 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out with a spoon, and grated or finely chopped.
- 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves (plus some for garnish, if you like)
- 1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted in a dry pan over high heat for a few seconds, until fragrant (if you’re short on time, you can use 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Marinate the lamb. Put the chopped ginger and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times. Scrape down the sides. Add 3-4 tablespoons of water. Pulse until you get a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. (If you do this in your blender, add the water right away – expect lots of scraping down the sides) In a medium-sized bowl mix the lamb with the garlic-ginger paste, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for a half-hour or so. (more is fine)
- Rins and soak your rice. Put rice in a large bowl. Fill the bowl halfway with cold water. Swish rice around for a few seconds and pour off the cloudy water. Repeat 3 or 4 times, until the water is fairly clear. Cover rice with cold water by 2 inches and set it aside to soften for an hour. Drain.
- Start the sauce. While the lamb is marinating and the rice is soaking, start the sauce. In a large heavy pot or a deep skillet with a cover, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are nicely browned and caramelized – about 15 minutes. Regulate the heat so they don’t burn. Sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Transfer them to a large plate or bowl and set them aside. (no need to clean the pot yet – keep it out to brown the lamb)
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl: tomato sauce, cayenne, paprika, salt, turmeric and garam masala. Set aside while you brown the lamb.
- Brown the lamb. In the pot, you used for the onions, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add half the lamb with its garlic-ginger coating, and cook for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the pieces are browned on all sides. Transfer to the plate with the onions. Brown the rest of the lamb, adding more oil, if necessary. Once the second batch of lamb is browned, return the other lamb and the onions to the pot. Pour in the sauce. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release the browned bits of lamb into the sauce. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the lamb is nice and tender. Remove from the heat.
- Precook the rice. While the lamb is simmering, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the spices: cumin seeds, cardamom pods, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Cook until they sizzle a bit and you can smell the cumin toasting – about 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the saffron and cook stirring, for about 30 seconds, until the saffron releases its colour and aroma. Add the drained rice and toss to coat. Pour in 2 cups cold water and 2 teaspoons salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 5-6 minutes, uncovered – until all the water has evaporated. Remove from the heat.
- Assemble. For baking preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spread half the lamb curry in the bottom of a medium-sized casserole dish. Cover with half the rice. Repeat the layers. Cover the casserole with the lid or with a double layer of foil. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve with cucumber raita (see below)
- Make the cucumber riata. Combine all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
*Note: The bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods are not meant to be eaten. Remove them or tell people to be on the lookout for them.