Mild winter curry
South Africans love curries – in any shape, form and strength. Curries are considered part of the rainbow of dishes in South African cuisine and synonymous with winter. I developed this recipe many years ago for The AMC Book and it remains my go-to curry recipe. I also recently shared it as one of the regular recipes I contribute to The Muse Magazine (a community magazine in Pinelands, Cape Town).
This recipe is a mild combination of aromatic flavours with a strong Malay influence. A curry should not just be a hot and spicy dish that makes your eyes water. A delicious blend of spices ranging from ginger and the sweet tones of cinnamon to the earthiness of cumin and coriander and then a bit of a bite from curry powder and chilli is so much more enjoyable. The cooking methods for curries vary from recipe to recipe. Many versions, like this one, are made in a similar way to a stew. The meat is browned and then the onions and spices are sautéed to enhance the flavours before it is all slowly simmered together. This curry will be equally good, prepared with mutton, beef or chicken, just remember that the cooking time for chicken will be much shorter than for red meat.
My twist on the curry
The addition of butternut may not be as typical as using only potatoes, but I love the combination of spices with something that adds a bit of natural sweetness. It helps to balance the spiciness of the dish. Together with the potatoes, it thickens the curry sauce. Curries can be served with a range of side dishes and accompaniments. From just rice to spooning it into a roti, on naan bread and topped with a fresh salsa or a dollop of plain yoghurt to soften the spicy flavours of curry. Fresh coriander leaves and homemade sambal are fabulous with all of these options and complement the spices beautifully. Cook up many a curry this winter.
Mild winter curry
Recipe from The AMC Book
20 ml (4 tsp) olive or avocado oil
1 kg mutton or beef thick rib, or other stewing meat on the bone (if you prefer boneless meat, use shoulder, diced)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
10 ml (2 tsp) ground coriander
15 ml (1 tbsp) each ground cumin and garam masala
15 ml (1 tbsp) grated fresh ginger or 5 ml (1 tsp) ground ginger
20 ml (4 tsp) mild curry powder
10 ml (2 tsp) turmeric
1 red chilli, chopped (seeded if preferred)
2 each bay leaves and small cinnamon sticks
20 ml (4 tsp) dried mixed herbs
1 small (about 500 g) butternut, peeled and cubed
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
30 ml (2 tbsp) cake flour
15 ml (1 tbsp) soy sauce
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 x 410 g tin chopped tomatoes
180 ml chicken stock or strong Rooibos tea
salt and pepper to taste
handful of fresh coriander or Italian parsley
fresh sambal to serve with curry
- Heat oil over a medium heat in a large pot (like an AMC 24 cm Gourmet High). Brown meat in batches, spoon out and continue with the rest of the meat. Set aside.
- In the same pot, sauté onions and garlic until tender. Add all the spices and dried herbs and sauté for 3-5 minutes until aromatic.
- Add the butternut and potatoes and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the flour until no dry flour is visible.
- Stir in the soy sauce, tomatoes and stock or tea. Bring to a gentle boil.
- Return the meat and reduce the heat. Slowly simmer with a lid for 1½-2 hours or until the meat is tender. Season to taste, but don’t stir too much.
- Serve with fresh coriander or parsley, rotis or brown basmati rice. Enjoy with a mixture of plain yoghurt, cucumber and fresh coriander leaves. A fresh sambal is also delicious with a curry – combine diced yellow and red pepper, cucumber and chopped chilli and fresh coriander.