Curried Chicken, The South African Way


My husband David was born in Cape Town South Africa, and spent his formative years growing up all over that beautiful country.  Although his parents were American, and he lived part of his childhood in the United States, he came to love the food of South Africa and think of it as his ‘comfort food’.  The Malay population in South Africa have a huge influence on the cuisine of the area, and put their unique spin on traditional Indian food with the addition of Sambal.

Sambal is a chili based sauce served as a condiment, that is popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Surinam.  In South Africa it is usually tomato and onion, livened up with hot peppers, vinegar, and salt and pepper.  It is served cold, along side the curry dishes along with other, what I like to call, ‘add-on’s’ such as sliced bananas, toasted almonds, coconut, cucumber slices, and plain yogurt with finely chopped cucumber and mint.  These add-on items are served cold, and help to douse the spiciness of the actual curry dish.  In the end, South African Chicken Curry is not only delicious, it is beautiful to look at as well.



  • 2 Pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil, Coconut or Vegetable
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 3 – 3″ Sticks of Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cardamom seeds, or 1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cardamom
  • 1 Large Clove of Garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon of grated Fresh Ginger
  • 3 Large Tomatoes, cut into medium sized chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons Curry Powder (I use the mild variety)
  • 1 Can of Coconut Milk (I prefer Lite Coconut Milk), approximately 1 1/2 Cups
  • 4 Medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil over medium high heat, in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Cook the onion, along with the cinnamon sticks and cardamom seeds, until the onions soften and turn translucent, but not browned, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken pieces, ginger, and garlic.  Stir well.  Turn the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring the chicken and onion mixture every few minutes, to make sure it is not sticking to the pan.

Remove the lid, and add the tomatoes, curry powder, and coconut milk.  Stir until everything is mixed well, and the curry powder is well distributed.


Stir in the potato cubes, and cook gently for about 30 minutes until everything is tender.  Add salt to taste.

Serve with Basmati Rice, Chutney, Sambal, shredded coconut, sliced bananas, toasted almonds, sliced cucumber, and plain yogurt with finely chopped cucumber, with mint and a little salt and pepper.


  • 2 finely chopped Tomatoes
  • 1/3 Cup finely chopped Sweet Onion (Vidalia if it is available)
  • 1 or 2 finely chopped Jalapeno or other hot peppers
  • 3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Mix first four ingredients together, add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with Chicken Curry.



I hope you will enjoy this taste of South Africa.  The beauty of the people, the country, and the food are exquisite. Delight in the flavors and colors of this dish, and experience a little of South Africa’s glorious Malay culture on your plate.



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