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    South African Chicken Curry

    If you think a curry is a curry is a curry, how different can it be… think again. You are in for a surprise!! This South African Chicken Curry doesn’t even come close to anything you’ve known before. It’s a completely different flavor, yet so delectable! This one is mild and sweet, albeit with loads of curry powder, reminding you of that curry flavor every single bite. Read on…

    overhead shot of a blue bowl full of south african chicken curry on a large blue platter with rice. to the right is a white napkin and spoon and fork.

    What is South African Chicken Curry?

    This recipe was given to my in-laws by a South African friend, back when they lived on their sailboat and my husband was just a little boy. So it’s been in the family for a long time! This was his only definition of curry all those years before he met me and he had a bomb when he first tried some of my Indian curries. Mind you, this curry tastes nothing like my Indian dishes, and yet I loved it from very first time I tried it. I loved that fruity sweetness mixed into the chicken along with those distinctive curry powder flavor. If you are looking for yet another way to cook your chicken, this is it my friends. Give it a try!

    close up of a blue bowl full of south african chicken curry

    Africa… that mother of all lands, comprises of so many cultural, ethnic and religious groups that over the years culminated into so many different cuisines. The South Africans, besides loving their Braai (Barbecue), one definitive dish they love and prepare is their curries. And looking at this vast continent, you can figure that there are as many curries as there are cultural groups living in this land.

    You might have heard of Cape Malay curry, which originated with the slaves from Ceylon, Indonesia, Java and Madagascar, and their descendants. That variation has spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and chili. Durban curries have more Indian influence and are more spicy and fiery. Many others use curry powder. Curry powder is a British construct, invented during British rule in India around 1784. At one point, the key ingredients were fenugreek and turmeric to mimic the spices in an Indian masala mix, which is usually made from scratch by Indian cooks.

    overhead shot of blue bowl full of south african chicken curry with rice above

    This curry powder was a big hit in South Africa. You will find this in most of their curries. But to make it a little milder for those Dutch and British palates, they added sweet notes with some kind of fruit chutney or preserve.


    overhead ingredient picture depicting, clockwise from top, chicken, apricot preserves, flour, curry powder, mushrooms, brown sugar, white vinegar, red onion, green pepper and mustard arranged on a marble surface
    • Chicken – I am using bone in thighs. A cut up whole chicken works as well.
    • Curry Powder – Our main flavoring.
    • Mustard and Vinegar – For zest and tang.
    • Black Pepper – Plenty of it.
    • Apricot preserves and brown sugar – For sweetness and balance.
    • Onions and Garlic – The standards.
    • Green bell peppers and lots of mushrooms – For the veggie power.

    How to make this curry in easy steps:

    It’s pretty simple, as most of the time your curry will be braising and bubbling, and you can do some other stuff or just put your feet up and relax…

    Cut your veggies and chop your garlic. I like big chunks of mushrooms and peppers in this curry.

    side view of chopped onions, green bell peppers and mushrooms

    In a bowl, mix flour, pepper, brown sugar and curry powder. This is your dry mixture.

    bowl with flour, brown sugar, black pepper and curry powder

    In another bowl, mix apricot preserves with vinegar, mustard and some water. Blend nicely. This is your wet mixture.

    Heat oil in a large skillet or pan (make sure it is at least 12 inches wide and no less than 3-4 inches deep, so there is plenty of room for your curry). I love to use my wide electric skillet for this recipe. Pan fry chicken with salt and pepper until you get a nice color on both sides. Remove to plate and set it aside.

    collage of six steps while creating south african chicken curry

    Sauté your onions, peppers and garlic for few minutes. Add the chicken back in and coat it and your veggies with your dry mixture. Mix in your wet mixture and stir everything for a few minutes and simmer on slow to medium heat until the chicken is fall off the bone. Simple… easy peasy, isn’t it?

    overhead shot of south african chicken curry in an electric skillet with a large spoon sticking out of it

    All this can be done in an hour or so. The more you simmer the more delish it becomes when the chicken is so tender it melts in your mouth. I suggest you use bone in thighs, my usual whenever there is a stew or curry kind of thing happening in your kitchen.

    How to store

    As with most curries and stews, this dish makes wonderful leftovers. The flavors are enhanced when refrigerated overnight. Just store in a covered container, stick it in the fridge and eat withing three days.

    It also freezes very well. Cook a huge batch and you are set for a few meals. So if you are in a pinch and say “oh no, what’s for dinner?” you can just thaw some leftovers and cook up some fresh rice. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. This is also a great kid friendly meal, as its sweet notes appeal to their palate and would be their next in-demand meal.

    overhead shot of a blue bowl full of south african chicken curry on a large blue platter with rice. to the right is a white napkin and spoon and fork.

    Try one of our Beiser staples and leave a comment if you like cooking the way we do… sampling all these flavors from around the world just waiting to be explored!!

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    South African Chicken Curry, on my Gypsy Plate… Enjoy!!!

    south african chicken curry atop a bed of rice on the gypsy plate

    Try some of our other curries!
    Alpana’s Chicken Masala
    Caribbean Coconut Mussel Curry
    Japanese Beef Curry
    African Maafe
    Chicken Caldereta
    Trinidadian Curry Chicken
    Dal Tadka
    Pinoy Pork Menudo
    Leftover Turkey Tikka Masala
    Pork Vindaloo

    close up overhead shot of south african chicken curry in a blue bowl

    South African Chicken Curry

    Yield: 6 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

    A milder and sweeter alternative to Indian and Caribbean curries, this South African Chicken Curry is still jam packed with flavor!


    • 6 chicken thighs
    • 2 Tbsp curry powder
    • 2 Tbsp flour
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp black pepper powder
    • ½ cup apricot jam
    • 2 Tbsp vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp mustard
    • 1.5 cup water
    • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
    • 1 onion, sliced into rings
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 8oz mushrooms, halved
    • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil


    1. Mix curry powder, flour, brown sugar and black pepper in a bowl.
    2. In another bowl, mix apricot jam with vinegar, mustard and water and
      stir together until nicely combined.
    3. Heat oil in an wide bottom pan. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken, add to heated oil and brown on both sides. Remove to plate and set aside.
    4. In the same pan, sauté onion rings until transluscent, then add garlic
      and stir for a few seconds. Be sure to scrape up the good brown things left from the
      chicken, this imparts nice flavors to your curry. Add mushrooms and peppers, stir for few minutes.
    5. Return chicken thighs to pan. Mix in your powder blend. Coat the chicken and veggies well with the powder.
    6. Add your apricot preserve blend and stir it for few minutes. Cover and simmer until chicken is done, occasionally checking and stirring. Add more water if necessary or according to your desried consistency.
    7. Serve it over a plate of hot rice.


    Freezes great. Make a huge batch and save some for next week!

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 6 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 460Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 166mgSodium 272mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 3gSugar 17gProtein 32g

    Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Be sure to check out my roundup of the world’s 40 BEST Curry Recipes!

    split image with close up south african chicken curry in a blue bowl above, and a zoomed out picture of the bowlful of curry on a large blue platter alongside a pile of white rice
    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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