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This one pot Cape Malay Chicken Curry will tickle your tastebuds with a unique mix of spices. It’s traditionally eaten without utensils (try using your hands – it’s fun!)
We spent part of our honeymoon in Capetown South Africa where I took an African Malay cooking class taught by Gamidah Jacobs who runs a company called Lekka Kombuis. Gamidah taught us to make this traditional Malay Chicken and Potato Curry and today I’m sharing my version of her recipe with you.
Gamidah lives in the historic Bo Kaap neighborhood and runs cooking classes and neighborhood tours from her home. There were 10 people in my cooking class and I was the only American (which was very cool!) The other participants were from all over the world … France, Phillipines, the Netherlands … but food and cooking is the universal language and everyone was able to communicate beautifully.
The colorful Bo Kapp neighborhood is one of the most Instagram-worthy places I’ve ever been with its brightly-colored painted houses (all set against the bright blue South African sky). Gamida lives on this street:
Beginning in the 17th century, slaves from Indonesia and India were brought to work the farms of Cape Town, South Africa. They came to be known as Cape Malays, and as a result of their influence, curry dishes are widespread in South Africa. Cape Malay curry is known for combining sweet and savory flavors–using sweet spices and savory seasonings like garlic and onions.
Although there are various types of dishes in a Malay meal, all are served at once, not in courses. Food is eaten with the hands (often using the bread to scoop up all of the yummy sauce.)
Typical Cape Malay Spices
The spices in Cape Malay cooking aren’t super spicy but they’re very flavorful. Typical spices found in many recipes include:
Masala – A blend of many spices, similar to curry powder.
How To Serve Cape Malay Chicken Curry
Serve Cape Malay Chicken Curry over rice or with roti (or naan). You could also serve it over cauliflower rice and keep the whole recipe Whole30 compliant and keto. Whatever you do, don’t skip the sambal sauce. It’s so delicious to top your curry with the fresh and slightly sweet sambal as it perfectly balances the heat.
Sambal to Accompany Chicken Curry
This fresh Cape Malay Sambal is the perfect compliment to serve with any kind of curry and it only contains a few ingredients and comes together in a flash. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and spicy. I can’t wait to try it on more things.
INGREDIENTS: 1 tomato, chopped 1 onion, chopped 1/2 cup of malt or apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons of jam (I used apricot) fresh chopped cilantro (optional) fresh or dried chilies – depending on how much spice you like. You could also add a dash of red pepper flakes salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let the flavors marry for 5-10 minutes before serving.
1 – 2cups of water or chicken stock. I used my chicken bone broth which I always meal prep and keep in the freezer.
In a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, add onions and cook them until they are golden brown. You do not need to add any oil although feel free to add a spash of olive oil if they are sticking.
Add fresh chopped tomato or tomato paste and mix well for 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger and all of the spices and stir well.
Add chicken and potatoes.
Add water or chicken stock to just cover half way.
Cover the pot and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and the potatoes are soft.
To thicken the mixture, you can mash a few of the potatoes and/or remove the lid of the pot for a few minutes.
You can use chicken on or off the bone (breasts, thighs, drumsticks) but remove the skin. I used a mixture of one very large chicken breast (chopped into pieces) and 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs. But when we made this in Africa all of the chicken we used was on the bone.
The masala I used is a blend of cumin, coriander, fennel, star aniseed, chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and bay leaves. So basically it’s a blend. You can substitute the curry powder of your choice – something like this Frontier Organic Tandoori Masala would definitely work.
I used one orange sweet potato and one white sweet potato (japanese yam). Keep the skins on the potatoes.