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…
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!
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.
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.
- 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.
In a bowl, mix flour, pepper, brown sugar and curry powder. This is your dry mixture.
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.
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?
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.
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!!!
Try some of our other curries!
Alpana’s Chicken Masala
Caribbean Coconut Mussel Curry
Japanese Beef Curry
Trinidadian Curry Chicken
Pinoy Pork Menudo
Leftover Turkey Tikka Masala
South African Chicken Curry
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
- Mix curry powder, flour, brown sugar and black pepper in a bowl.
- In another bowl, mix apricot jam with vinegar, mustard and water and
stir together until nicely combined.
- 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.
- 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.
- Return chicken thighs to pan. Mix in your powder blend. Coat the chicken and veggies well with the powder.
- 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.
- Serve it over a plate of hot rice.
Freezes great. Make a huge batch and save some for next week!
Nutrition InformationYield 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.
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19 thoughts on “South African Chicken Curry”
I really want to make this (looks delicious!! I LOVE curry!) but ahead of time and freeze it. How would you suggest heating it up once defrosted? Thanks!
My first choice would be to heat it over medium heat on stovetop. If you prefer to heat it in the microwave, I would suggest separating it into individual servings and cutting the chicken thighs in half so they heat up quicker and more evenly.
Thank you so much. Can’t wait to taste this!
Hi! I’m in the UK. I notice in your photo it says Jamaican Curry Powder. Is that best to use? I have Indian branded curry powder but not Jamaican. And also, just normal brown malt vinegar like Sarsons? Thank you!
Any basic yellow curry powder will work. We like the Jamaican because it has a bit more kick. We use white vinegar, it doesn’t add much extra flavor, but just gives a little tang.
Hi saw this recipe and wanted to make this but want to know how long can it sit in the refrigerator
Hi Felicia. You can refrigerate this in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
This was good. I was surprised, but we were ready for something interesting. I substituted orange jelly, and it was still very tasty.
Looks absolutely delicious! Good to know that it freezes well, too.
I need to get some new curry powder. Looks great.
Although I don’t use it in my Indian dishes, I find it quite useful. Have a great week!
I adore curry! Just as soon as I’m ready for more poultry I’m going to give this a try.
Haha, I am pretty sick of poultry myself right now!
This made me smile as it reminds me of what I call Chinese curry chicken. When living it Montreal curry chicken from any Chinese restaurant in the city was my go to dish. Recently we were reminiscing about it and I found the perfect recipe.
It always amazes me how sometimes foods from so far away can be so similar!