Durban Curry Masala Spice

Durban curry masala spice recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 16 servings

What makes a Durban curry dish so special and why does it differ with other Indian curries? It could be the hot red curry masala spice blend that goes into the pot. 

Durban curry masala is a spice blend you will most probably only hear about in South African curry recipes. Whether it is chicken masala, mutton masala or just masala, in the context of the Durban curry, it is a very hot and spicy blend of curry powder characterized by its red color. Furthermore, it is not to be confused with garam masala, although garam masala can be used as an ingredient in curry masala.

What we have found with curry masala is that the essential ingredient is the heat from cayenne or chili powder, which is what would give it the red color. Some people use paprika, but this would mainly be in order to achieve the color as well. Secondly, it does have a touch of sweetness to the spice, achieved by incorporating cardamom, cinnamon or cloves, or a combination of all three, which is why using garam masala as one of the ingredients makes sense as it gives an aromatically sweet accent to the spice.

Many Durban curry enthusiasts mix up a homemade batch of curry masala and store in an airtight jar for use when needed.


  • 6 teaspoons chili powder (mild)
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper powder like cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (or a whole stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Steps to Make It

  1.  Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for durban curry masala
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Clean and dry a spice jar or glass container with a tight-fitting lid and add the mild chili powder, cayenne, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, fenugreek, ginger, and cloves.

    Clean and dry spice jar
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Give the jar a good shake to fully combine, and store in a cool, dry place until ready to use. The mix will stay fresh for up to six months.

    Mix spices
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Enjoy!

    Curry spice
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


Grinding your own spices before mixing them, rather than using pre-ground spices, will result in a more potent blend you may need to use less of.