Durban-style Lamb and Cabbage Curry

This is another favourite amongst South African Indian families. It’s a great dish for a wintry Sunday like it is here in Sydney today.

The sweetness of the cabbage permeates this dish and the resulting curry is somehow more fragrant and lighter than most lamb curries. Flavouring the oil through the gentle frying of the fenugreek, cummin and nigella seeds along with the cinnamon and curry leaves provides the basis for this.

The addition of fresh and dried chillies add an extra warming spicy element but by no means is this required if you prefer a milder sweeter curry.

The curry sauce is thinner than usual as well so rice is the best accompaniment, and Mint and Peanut Chutney is a delicious alongside it. I suppose this is the Indian version of Norwegian Farikal or Irish Lamb and Cabbage stew.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

750g lamb cut into chunks, or for best results lamb chump chops with fat removed and diced keeping bones in
1 large onion chopped
1 tomato chopped
2 dried chillies and/or 2 fresh red chillies left whole(optional)
5 cloves garlic and equal amount peeled ginger, crushed into a paste
3 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil
2 sticks cinnamon bark
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
Handful of fresh curry leaves (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
1 teaspoon salt or salt to your taste
1/2 a whole cabbage sliced finely
2 cups chicken stock or water
Coriander chopped for garnish

Method:

1. Heat vegetable oil over medium heat in heavy based casserole pot.

2. Add cinnamon sticks, cummin and nigella seeds and curry leaves and heat through until fragrant, taking care not to burn spices. (This process flavours the oil)

3. Add onions and cook slowly over medium heat until transparent.

4. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook for 1 minute,stirring through onions.

5, Add turmeric, chilli, cummin and fennel powder, as well as salt, and stir briskly to mix well into onion mixture heating spices but once again taking care not to burn.

6. Add chopped tomatoes, died and fresh chillies if using, and lamb, stirring to coat lamb well in spices and to brown/seal the meat, before adding enough chicken stock or water to cover lamb.

7. Bring to the boil, the lower heat and simmer gently for 35-40 minutes until lamb is almost tender.

8. Add sliced cabbage and cook for 10-15 minutes until cabbage is tender and sauce reduces. (If you do want to thicken sauce you can add 2 teaspoons of cornflour mixed into a smooth paste with some water and simmer for 3-4 minutes stirring well)

9. Taste to see if additional salt is required.

10. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with basmati rice.

Durban style Indian Boneless Chicken Curry

A staple in any South African Indian family, my version includes a dollop of yoghurt towards the end which makes for a creamier sauce. This is perfect served just with a salad and rice for a very tasty but healthy meal.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:

4 medium size chicken thigh fillets, any fat removed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 tspoons ginger and garlic paste (4 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger pounded into a paste)
1 brown onion, cut in half, then finely sliced
1 tomato cut into chunks
2 pieces cinnamon bark or 1 quill
Handful of fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
3 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 tesapoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
1.5 cup water or chicken stock
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish

Method:

1. Heat oil in heavy based pot over medium heat, and then add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds, cardamom pods and curry leaves.

2. When spices are fragrant, add onions and cook slowly until translucent.

3. Add ginger and garlic paste and mix through.

4. Add cummin powder, turmeric powder and chilli powder. Stir until fragrant but be careful not to burn.

5. Add chicken pieces stirring until chicken is sealed and beginning to change colour.

6. Add salt, tomato pieces and water to just cover chicken.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked and liquid is reduced.

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7. Add a dollop of yoghurt and mix through. Bring back to simmer for 5 minutes.

8. Taste to see if extra salt needed. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves 2 as main dish

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Durban Style Chicken Briyani

Briyani-Breyani-Biryani…, however you want to spell it, is a traditional feast dish in the homes of Indian families. The accompaniments of Grapes Apple Mint Raita, Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney, Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt and Red Lentil Tarka Dhal with turmeric and ginger make the serving of biryani a true foodie experience.

This family recipe includes lentils, boiled eggs, spicy potatoes along with the marinated chicken and golden fried onions which combine for a protein and carbohydrate packed pot of deliciousness. Definitely best kept for special occasions!

The chicken can be replaced with lamb for an equally wonderful result.

This recipe should be started the day before or early in the morning to allow the chicken to marinate in the yoghurt-tomato based marinade which tenderises and flavours the chicken. The time and effort required to prepare this delicious layered rice dish is definitely worth the effort and the leftovers are especially delicious the day after

I have organised this recipe with the ingredients and method for each different steps to make it easier to follow, as well as providing a shopping list at the end to help you get all the ingredients you’ll need.

Chicken and Marinade

1 large onion sliced
50g butter and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 stalks of curry leaves stripped from stalk
4 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
1 can of chopped tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic and equivalent amount of fresh ginger
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
1.5 teaspoons of cummin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
About 1.5 kg of chicken with or without bones – I use a mix e.g 3 chicken thigh cutlets with bone or 3 chicken drumsticks as well as 4 chicken thigh fillets cut into large chunks

Step 1: Marinate Chicken
Heat oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan, add curry leaves and fry until fragrant, then add onion and cook gently until brown and caramelised. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then pound the onions and curry leaves in a mortar and pestle to break up onion and create a rough paste.

In a separate bowl add the chicken, yoghurt, tomato, pounded onions, ginger and garlic, and rest of spices. Mix well and allow to marinate overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Step 2: Boil Eggs

3-4 eggs
Hard boil eggs, shell and halve
Set aside

Step 3: Par-boil Rice

2.5 cups of basmati rice
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon salt
5-6 cups water

Add water to large pot and bring to boil with turmeric and salt
Add rice and cook for 8-10 minutes until par-boiled only – do not overcook at this stage or rice will go mushy when cooked in oven.
Drain rice in colander and set aside

Step 4: Par-cook Potatoes

2 large potatoes peeled and cut into medium size chunks
½ tspn chilli powder
½ tspn cummin powder
½ tspn turmeric powder
½ tspn salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Add potatoes to bowl with spices and 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil to help coat potatoes evenly in spices

Heat rest of oil in a non-stick frying pan, add potatoes in small batches if necessary, frying potatoes until the outside of the potatoes are fried and an outer “skin” is created. Potatoes will not be cooked through but remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

Set aside

Step 5: Lentils

2 cans of brown lentils, drained
Set aside

Step 6: Onions for topping

1 large onion cut into thin slices
50 g butter and 1 tablespoon oil

Fry onions gently in butter and oil until golden but not brown
Set aside

 

Step 6: Cook Chicken

2 tablespoons oil
1.5 teaspoons of cummin seeds
5 green cardamon pods
2 sticks of cinnamon (preferably cinnamon bark)
1.5 cups of water/chicken stock
Marinated chicken

Heat oil in casserole dish or large heavy based pot, add cummin, cinnamon and cardarmom pods and fry for 1 minute until fragrant taking care not to burn spices

Add chicken mixture to pot and simmer, stirring so it does not stick to bottom until chicken is sealed

Add 1 cup of water, cover pot with lid and simmer slowly for 25 minutes checking that the mixture isn’t sticking – add a bit more water if necessary. You want a fairly dry resulting mixture as the base for the briyani.

Skim the excess oil off as you go.

After 25 minutes, remove chicken from heat and set aside.

Step 7: Assembly

Handful of Fresh torn Mint leaves
50 g butter
Handful of chopped Coriander
1 cup of water

Prepared Ingredients:
Cooked chicken
Partially cooked potatoes
Hard boiled eggs
Lentils
Par-boiled eggs
Fried Onions
 

Heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius

In a large casserole or crock pot begin to assemble the layered briyani:

Place 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on the bottom of the casserole pan

Sprinkle bottom with 1-2 handfuls of lentils

Add the chicken mixture over the lentils using a slotted spoon to minimise the amount of liquid from the cooked chicken that this transferred to the briyani

Add a layer of lentils on top of the chicken, then a layer of rice (3/4 cup), sprinkle a few mint leaves over the rice

Place potatoes and eggs over this layer and sprinkle a few mint leaves over the potatoes and eggs

Place rest of rice over the potatoes and eggs and sprinkle with some water.

Cover the pot with foil to “to seal” the mixture then place lid on top of foil

Place in oven for 30 minutes, then push small knobs of butter into the rice at intervals, sprinkle with more water if rice on the top is drying out. You can check the progress of the cooking of the potatoes by inserting a long spoon vertically into mixture and carefully removing a sample of the dish. The rice and potatoes are the best to sample to determine how much longer you need to cook the briyani – I generally find it will require another 30 minutes at least.

After a total of one hour, check on the briyani again and add the reserved fried onions over the top of the rice and place back in oven for 10-15 minutes. Then remove the briyani from the oven and allow to rest for at least half and hour before serving.

To serve, dish out onto a platter ensuring there is a representation of all the different ingredients, sprinkle with chopped mint or coriander leaves.

Serve with accompaniments such as Indian Pickles,  Grapes Apple Mint Raita, Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney, Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt and Red Lentil Tarka Dhal  .

Shopping List

Here’s the list of ingredients to use for the Durban Style Chicken Briyani recipe:

  • 1.5 kg chicken – 3-4 thigh cutlets with bone and skin and 4 thigh fillets
  • 2 cans brown lentils
  • Tub of plain yoghurt
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2.5 cups of Basmati rice
  • 1-2 cups Chicken stock (or water)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 150g butter
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Curry Leaves
  • Coriander
  • Mint
  • Chilli Powder
  • Cumin Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Green Cardamom pods
  • Cinnamon bark (available at Indian Grocers) or quills
  • Salt

Kamsila’s Chilli Sauce with apricot jam, garlic and mustard seeds

This is my cousin Kamsila’s recipe which I wrote down on my last visit to see my family in South Africa in 1997! It has stood me in good stead ever since. It is perfect to add that extra chilli bite when served alongside samosas, meatballs, or as a chutney with roast meats. It’s quick and easy to make but best if you soak the chillies and garlic in vinegar overnight. Lasts for up to 6 weeks stored in the fridge but is usually long gone by then in our household.

The recipe does use Indian pickling masala which combines chilli powder, salt, fenugreek, mustard seeds,nigella seeds,turmeric and asafoetida. Easy to buy pre-packaged at an Indian grocer or spice shop.

Example of packaged pickling masala available at indian spice shops
Example of packaged pickling masala available at indian spice shops

Prep time: marinate overnight, then 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
50g fresh red chillies stalks removed
5 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine vinegar
400g apricot jam
750mls good tomato sauce
1 tsp oil
2 tspns “pickling masala”
1 tspn black mustard seeds
Small handful of fresh curry leaves

Method
Soak chillies and garlic in vinegar overnight
Process in a small blender until liquidised
Add tomato sauce and apricot jam and masala and mix, don’t worry if apricot jam stays in chunks
Heat oil in non-stick frying pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves and sauté for a minute
Add chilli, tomato, jam mixture to pan, simmer for 4-5 minutes
Cool and bottle in sterilised jars or serve immediately
Keeps for up to 6 weeks in fridge

Chilli, tomato and apricot jam simmering in oil, mustard seed and curry leaf mixture
Chilli, tomato and apricot jam simmering in oil, mustard seed and curry leaf mixture