Cape Malay Curry Recipe

What is Cape Malay Curry?

Cape Malay curry is very distinctive and relies on bold fruity flavors and aromas (combining sweet and savory flavors) and are not quite as hot or spicy as  some of the Indian curries.

The Cape Malay curry is a special blend of spices not found in other dishes and originates from the “Bo-Kaap” area of the Cape.

cape malay curry recipe

cape malay curry

How to make a Cape Malay curry powder:

  • While buying Cape Malay curry powder is easier, the spice blend can also be made and includes the following (amounts can be varied some):
    • 1 tablespoon clove
    • 1⁄2cup coriander seed
    • 1 tablespoon  fennel seed
    • 1 tablespoon  black mustard seeds
    • 3 tablespoons  fenugreek seeds
    • 2 tablespoons  black peppercorns
    • 3 small dried hot red chilies, seeds and stems removed
    • 3 tablespoons  cumin seeds
    • 1⁄4cup  ground cardamom
    • 1⁄4cup  ground turmeric
    • 1 tablespoon  ground ginger
    • 2 curry leaves, chopped into small pieces

Dry roast the whole seeds in a pan for a couple of minutes then grind them up in a food processor, grinder or with a pestle and mortar. Add the rest of the spices, chillies and curry leaves and store in an airtight container.

Ingredients to make Chicken or Lamb Cape Malay Curry:

  • 1.5 lbs of chicken thigh or drumstick with skin removed (chicken breast can also be used) – or lamb, cubed
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large or 3 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 4 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped or 1 tin tomatoes
  • ½ cup water
  • Frying oil
  • Fresh coriander leaves to garnish


  1. Combine meat and spices in a bowl and set aside
  2. Brown meat in saucepan
  3. Sauté the onions in a medium saucepan until it start to brown, taking care not to burn it
  4. Add meat, tomato, and water, stir through and simmer for 30-40 minutes on medium heat with lid on (taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary)
  5. Add the cubed potato and simmer until the potatoes are soft. Add more water if necessary.

Serving hints:

  • This curry is best served with yellow rice or rotis, sambas, chutneys and attars.
  • A nice addition is to serve with caramelized bananas – slice a ripe (not overly) banana in half. Brush with melted butter and dunk, cut side down, into brown sugar. Caramelize in a hot pan until tender and sticky. Serve whole as a topping for the curry.
  • Like other curries, the Cape Malay curry will taste even better the following day as the flavors mature.



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