Chicken Curry is one of Durban’s prime epicurean delights. This effortless creation is composed of chicken pieces simmered in a broth of spice and all things nice. Unlike milder East Indian chicken dishes– the Durban Chicken Curry does not contain fruit, sugar or cream. Not for the faint-hearted- it is pungent yet pleasing to the senses. Do take heed – this palatal joy may be followed by a runny nose and watery eyes – a sensorial spate often signifying a distinguished Durban Chicken Curry! – such as Amma’s chicken curry.
Durban Chicken Curry…Like Amma Used to Make It
When it came to preparing chicken curry – nothing annoyed Amma more than large pieces of chicken! She often complained that chicken should always be neatly cut into small portions and not what she described ‘ as chunks’. Amma’s method for cutting a chicken for Chicken curry was simple – each person in the family had their favorite part – the wings for my father, the breast, and thighs for my sisters and I and Amma loved the back or the wings shared with my sister when my father was not present. The drumsticks and wings were often sliced into two parts and the breast and back into 6 pieces each. This calculated division of the chicken always ensured each person received their favorite part of the chicken and a little extra. Other ‘Amma-isms’ included removing every visible trace of plumage off the chicken -she usually seared each piece on a hot stove to achieve this prior to cooking the curry.
Amma’s Chicken curry often included peas, double beans or gathra beans. The rich gravy was formed by her thinly sliced onions and tomatoes, complimented by ground ginger and garlic. No meat curry of Amma was ever complete without curry leaves and dhania (coriander).
Chicken Curry FAQ
- A basic chicken curry aka ‘end of the month chicken curry’ – can essentially be made with oil, onions, chilli powder/ Durban masala and chicken -without the frills yet it tastes just as good. A more ‘decadent’ version includes tomatoes, garam masala, ginger and garlic, curry leaves and coriander.
- When making Chicken Curry it is essential to create a rich gravy. A perfect gravy consistency is achieved by using finely sliced onions, tomatoes and a combination of masala’s or chilli powder combined with garamasala. For this reason the tomatoes should be peeled,de-seeded then grated. Reason for this is that these components contain a large amount of water vs. the fruit which contributes to making perfect gravy.
- The striking deep orange -reddish color of the perfect Durban Chicken curry depends on the type of spices used. Do exercise caution when buying spices-always read the labels. I prefer not to buy spices with added colorants e.g those which list the international numbering system for food additives in their ingredients. One natural means of achieving this sought after color is to add 1 tablespoon of tomato concentrate. (Mix with the grated tomatoes).
- This recipe uses ready made garam masala- as a substitute use 4 cardamom pods crushed with 1 teaspoon coriander seeds. Add a quarter teaspoon fennel seeds and a quarter teaspoon cumin seeds. Grind to form a fine powder.
Chicken Curry Like Amma Used to Make It
|Chicken Curry -the perfect dish for a gloomy Spring lunch