A combination of fragrant Indonesian spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, and coriander, and the dried fruits and sweet notes of African cuisine, South African Cape Malay curry came to fruition when Indonesian immigrants settled in the cape during the 17th century.
For this version, I like to create a fragrant sauce with our South African Cape Malay spice which is a mild yet aromatic blend, mango chutney for sweetness, tinned tomatoes and a few added extras, then submerge sweet red peppers and tender chicken thighs. I then bake it all in the oven together so the flavours infuse into the chicken and the sauce is bubbling and super-flavourful.
I have included my recipe for Spiced Golden Rice in this but you can just as easily served it with plain rice or even some steamed, mashed, or roasted potatoes.
Spices used in this recipe
Ceylon Cinnamon Sticks
Cinnamon Sticks, or quills, are obtained from the inner bark of a variety of trees from the Cinnamomum genus. The dried cinnamon quills are characterised by their light brown colour and thin rolled shape, as well as it’s warm, sweet and delicate fragrance. It is used to flavour poached fruits, tagines and curries, as well as baked goods.$3.45
Green Cardamom Pods (Whole)
Green Cardamom Pods have a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance and a minty coolness. The oval-shaped pods are green, as suggested by their name, and are used in a variety of savoury and sweet dishes. Next to black pepper, cardamom is the most common spice in India. It is also one of the world’s most ancient spices, often glorified as the Queen of Spices. It is an essential ingredient of Garam Masala.$3.45
Turmeric Powder (Alleppey)
Turmeric alleppey has the highest level of naturally occurring curcumin. It has a light, warm, mildly bitter peppery flavor, and an earthy musky aroma. Its deep mustard yellow-ochre color imparts a strong dark yellow hue to any dish. It is preferred for its health benefits due to its higher levels of curcumin.$6.95
Curry South African Cape Malay – Mild
The South African Cape Malay curry was originally created in the early 17th century from the influence of the Indonesian immigrants who settled there. This curry is characterised by the combination of sweet spices like cinnamon and savoury spices such as cardamom. This distinctive authentic curry it is full bodied and rich and is often made with coconut milk. It is a mild and curry and is highly aromatic, making it suitable for all the family.
Preheat your oven to 200c.
Place an oven-proof pan* on medium heat with a drizzle of oil and when hot, add your chicken thighs in searing for about 2 mins on each side, until nice and brown. Remove from the pan and set aside – they won’t be cooked through just yet, this is just the browning stage for flavour.
*If your pan can’t go in the oven, simply do the stove-top steps in a pan then transfer to a baking dish.
Return your pan to heat with your chicken oil still in there and add in your onion sauteeing for about 4 mins, until nice and soft. Add in your garlic, Cape Malay spice, and ginger and saute for a further minute, until nice and fragrant. Add in your chopped tomatoes then fill the now-empty tin with water and pour that in. Follow with your chutney, coriander, and crumble in your stock cube. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 mins then season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Add your capsicum to your simmering sauce followed by your browned chicken and submerge it all in the sauce. Place in your preheated oven for 35-40 mins, until the chicken is cooked through and opaque inside. Remove from the oven and allow to sit and rest for 5 mins.
While the chicken is cooking, begin your rice. Place a medium saucepan on low heat. Add in your butter, turmeric, cinnamon stick snapped in half and cardamom pods. Allow the butter melt and spices to become fragrant – about 1 min. Add your water in and raise the heat, bringing it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce your heat to low, stir in your rice and salt, cover with a lid and cook on low for 13 mins. When it’s finished cooking, take it off the heat but don’t remove the lid just yet – the rice will continue to cook in its own steam.