Durban Chicken Curry

Durban chicken curry recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 65 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
525 Calories
31g Fat
23g Carbs
43g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 525
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 225mg 75%
Sodium 460mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 43g
Vitamin C 22mg 110%
Calcium 76mg 6%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 1126mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This simple Durban chicken curry recipe is the perfect introduction to South African Indian cuisine. Durban is South Africa's third most populous city, and in addition to beautiful beaches, it's known for its Indian-style curries.

Full of warm spices, this chicken curry is a flavorful main dish. It may look like a long list of ingredients; however, many of these are common spices or items that you can easily find at any grocery store. The cayenne pepper adds a nice kick, but if you'd prefer a milder curry, you can reduce it to taste. Serve with steamed basmati rice and sambal on the side for a satisfying dinner.


  • 2 tablespoons ghee, or butter

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon curry powder, or garam masala

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 to 2 whole cinnamon sticks

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 8 pieces chicken, preferably thighs and drumsticks or wings (2.2 pounds/1 kilogram)

  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree

  • 2 medium potatoes, diced into half-inch cubes

  • 1 small rutabaga (swede), optional

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1 sprig curry leaves

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Durban chicken curry
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt butter with vegetable oil over low heat. Add curry powder, coriander, ground cumin, whole cumin, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon sticks and cook for about a minute or until fragrant. Be careful not to sear or burn the spices.

    Spices added to melted butter in a pot
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Turn heat to medium and add onion, ginger, and garlic and fry until softened. This should take about 3 minutes.

    Onions, garlic, and spices in the pot
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Turn heat to high and add chicken pieces. Allow meat to brown for about 5 minutes and coat pieces in onion and spices very well.

    Chicken with spices in the pot
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, and give pot a good stir.

    Chicken and tomatoes in pot
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Throw in diced potatoes, rutabaga, chicken stock, and curry leaves. Let simmer for about 30 minutes on low to medium heat. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.

    Add diced potatoes, rutabaga, chicken stock, and curry leaves
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • Chicken on the bone such a thighs, drumsticks, or wings work best with this recipe as the bones enrich the flavor and the chicken remains moist.
  • Care should be taken to ensure there is enough heat to cook the potatoes through. You will notice they absorb much of the water and become fluffy when ready.

What Are the Best Spices for Curry?

Curries are known for their blend of fragrant spices. Exactly what spices are used depends on the type of curry being made. Common spices in Indian curries include coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger.

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