South Africa – Cape Malay Curry – Recipe (Traditional)


Enjoy your award-winning, authentic Cape Malay Curry, a dish that brings the rich and aromatic flavours of South Africa to your table!


Cape Malay Curry is a flavorful and aromatic dish that originates from the Cape Malay community in South Africa. Known for its distinctive blend of spices and sweet undertones, Cape Malay Curry reflects the cultural heritage of the Cape Malay people, who are descendants of Southeast Asian and Indonesian slaves, political exiles, and political refugees brought to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch East India Company during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Key Elements:

  • Spice Blend: Cape Malay Curry is characterized by a unique spice blend that includes ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. These spices create a complex and aromatic flavor profile that sets Cape Malay Curry apart from other curry dishes.
  • Meat or Vegetables: The curry can be made with various proteins such as chicken, lamb, beef, or seafood. It is also commonly prepared with vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and peas, making it a versatile dish suitable for different dietary preferences.
  • Coconut Milk: A key ingredient in Cape Malay Curry is coconut milk or cream, which adds richness and a subtle sweetness to the curry sauce. This ingredient distinguishes Cape Malay Curry from other curries in South African cuisine.
  • Onions, Garlic, and Ginger: These aromatics form the base of the curry sauce, providing depth of flavor and enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
  • Chutney and Sambal (Optional): Cape Malay Curry is often served with a side of mango chutney or sambal (a spicy condiment made from chili peppers), which complement the curry’s flavors and add additional layers of taste.


  1. Sautéing Aromatics: Onions, garlic, and ginger are sautéed in oil until softened and aromatic, creating a flavorful base for the curry.
  2. Adding Spices: The spice blend (ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, etc.) is added to the aromatics and toasted briefly to release their flavors.
  3. Cooking the Protein or Vegetables: Meat or vegetables are added to the pot and coated with the spice mixture, allowing them to absorb the flavors.
  4. Simmering with Coconut Milk: Coconut milk or cream is added to the pot, along with water or broth, and the curry is simmered until the meat is tender or the vegetables are cooked through.
  5. Adjusting Seasoning: Salt, pepper, and sometimes a touch of sugar are added to balance the flavors. Additional chili peppers can be added for those who enjoy a spicier curry.
  6. Serving: Cape Malay Curry is traditionally served hot, accompanied by fragrant rice, roti (Indian flatbread), or crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.

Culinary Experience:

  • Rich and Aromatic: Cape Malay Curry offers a rich and aromatic experience, with layers of spices and the creamy sweetness of coconut milk providing a satisfying and comforting meal.
  • Cultural Heritage: The dish reflects the multicultural influences of the Cape Malay community, blending Southeast Asian, Indonesian, and African culinary traditions into a unique and flavorful curry.

Cultural Significance:

  • Celebration of Diversity: Cape Malay Curry is celebrated for its ability to bring people together through food, showcasing the rich cultural diversity and heritage of South Africa’s Cape Malay community.
  • Symbol of Identity: It serves as a symbol of cultural identity and pride, passed down through generations and enjoyed during festive occasions, family gatherings, and everyday meals.

Cape Malay Curry not only tantalizes the taste buds but also tells a story of resilience, adaptation, and the vibrant culinary traditions of South Africa’s Cape Malay community, making it a cherished part of the country’s gastronomic heritage.


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