Durban Curry

Every South African has a favourite Durban curry recipe, closely guarded spice blends and secret ingredients. Served with rice or as bunny chow, no rabbits involved, merely a hollowed out loaf of bread, used to serve the curry in. Durban curry is sometimes served with sliced bananas and desiccated coconut on top. I am not sure how or why this tradition started and it may just be a thing in our family. Durban curry always reminds me of seaside holidays and warm, tropical nights, cold beers and good friends.

This recipe will start you off but feel free to experiment . I use banana in mine but I do know people who use dried apricots in theirs. Do share your tips and pictures.

Durban Curry

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Curry
Servings 4


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cardamom pods slightly bashed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry masala
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger grated or finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 banana sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 500 ml water
  • 600 grams stewing beef
  • 1 large potato cut into small cubes
  • 10 or 12 fresh curry leaves 5 or 6 dried if you don't have fresh
  • 1 small bunch of coriander (optional) chopped
  • 1 tablespoon peach or mango chutney


  • Heat the oil in a large pot. Then fry the cardamom, cinnamon and fennel seeds until fragrant.
  • Add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, until just starting to colour.
  • Stir in the masala, ginger, garlic, tomato puree and banana and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add in the tomatoes, stir well and cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes start to form a sauce.
  • Add the beef and potatoes and stir well to coat.
  • Add the curry leaves and 500ml of water. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over a low heat for 40 to 50 minutes until the beef is tender and the potato cooked
  • Stir in the chutney and coriander if using.
  • Serve with rice


To make curry masala gently toast 2 tablespoons of coriander seed, 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds, 3 or 4 cloves, 1/2 t0 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (depending on how hot you like it) and a cinnamon stick until fragrant. Grind together using a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add in a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger. Mix well. This will keep in a jar for a couple of months but will lose its flavour if kept for too long. 
Cooking For John