I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, where local curry dishes were as common in my house as chicken soup (maybe even more). Barely a week went by without us eating curried chicken or fish. We always had Cape Malay-style curry, made with curry spices and tomatoes, with chutney, coconut and sliced bananas on the side. To some it may sound exotic, to us it was just a regular Wednesday night meal.
Over the years, I’ve loved tasting and cooking various types of curries from all parts of Asia. But when winter comes, and comfort food is a must, this is the curry I always make for my family. It takes me back to Cape Town and to the flavors of the Cape.
This recipe takes a little more effort because I always pan fry the chicken pieces before baking them, and par-boil the potatoes. These extra steps are all very worthwhile. If not, I would not subject you to them. My kids are always in awe of how the potatoes come out, so I wouldn’t take any short cuts there.
For this dish I use pre-mixed curry powder. Happily, I can buy South African curry powder in Israel, but you can also use other regular curry powder mixes. If you want to make your own, I’ve added that option.
CAPE MALAY STYLE CURRIED CHICKEN
1 chicken cut into 10 pieces plus an extra 3 thighs, legs and 6 extra wings.
1 cup flour season with salt, pepper and garlic powder
Oil for frying
4-6 large potatoes peeled and cut into about 6-8 pieces each
2 large onions chopped in large pieces
2 red peppers sliced
4 large very ripe tomatoes (peeled – optional)
400g (14oz) tomato paste
3 tablespoons curry paste*
1 red chili pepper finely chopped (use half if you don’t want it too hot)
1 tablespoon chicken soup powder
About 2-3 cups boiling water
How to do it
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan or skillet (I have 2 going at once to save time). Roll each chicken piece in the flour and brown each piece in the oil on all sides, and place at the bottom of a large sprayed roasting pan. Do not discard the oil from the chicken and don’t discard the remaining flour.
- Par boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water, bringing to the boil for about 10 minutes or until a potato just starts to yield to a fork. Drain and add them to the chicken.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF)
- In the pan with the chicken oil, fry the onions and peppers over medium high heat until soft (not browned). Add the chili and stir for a minute or so. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan and let them simmer for a few minutes until they start melting.
- Turn the heat down to low, and add the tomato paste, curry powder or spices and the chicken soup powder and stir until a thick paste forms.
- Add about 4-5 tablespoons of the remaining flour, and stir together. Add the boiling water slowly, stirring until the paste turns into thick but runny sauce (don’t make it too water but make sure it is running enough to coat all the chicken pieces and form a nice sauce.) Pour over the dish.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, turn the oven down to 180ºC (350ºF) and bake for another 20 minutes and remove the white meat. Sturn the chicken pieves over and gently turn the potatoes over as well so they cook evenly. Continue baking the dark meat pieces until the meat starts coming away from the bone of the leg.
- Serve with white or brown rice. Serves about 10.
*To make your own curry spice, combine 1½ teaspoons coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons fennel, ground (or 4 teaspoons whole fennel seeds), 1½ teaspoons ground cumin, 2 tablespoons ginger, fresh, finely chopped, 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground, 15 cardamom pods (whole pods), ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon garam masala. Mash all the spices together in a pestle and mortar.