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Mum’s Recipes - Fantastic Chicken Curry

Recently, my Dad got to visit us since we last saw him in March 2020. It was the first time he would see his grandchild, Elliot. It was a momentous occasion and also a sad one. My mum passed away in February of last year and never got the chance to see her grandchild. This was a time for us to heal and well as to celebrate. We went to Glendalough to scatter her ashes and I can honestly say, we all experienced something spiritual that day. Mum was there, she really was there.

My Dad brought many of Mum’s things with him that he thought I might want to keep. Along with these were a Mrs Beaton’s Family Cookery book and a plastic sleeve of magazine and newspaper recipes she had kept over the years. Some dating back to the early 1980s! The most popular recipes coming from You Magazine’s Let’s Cook section. I think it’s incredible that I didn’t know about these recipes until they were handed to me at exactly the right moment that I need them! I’ve been soul searching for a specific direction in mypersonal projects and Mum just literally landed the idea on my lap. 

I plan to go through these recipes and relive meals that bring back memories and have a cultural significance to me. I want to share the wonderful flavours of South Africa with you as well as explore traditional recipes of Mrs Beaton’s. Most importantly, I want to keep the spirit of Mum alive by showcasing her favourite meals.

First up, Fantastic Chicken Curry by Dini Scholtz. Mum was absolutely mad about curry! Her love for it began when she moved to South Africa in the 1970s. Thanks to Mum, I’ve been eating curry for so long I actually can’t remember when I started! The smell of curry cooking brings me back to Mum’s kitchen. It was a weekly meal in our house and a lamb curry (her absolute fav!) was often a way to celebrate a special occasion. So, it’s no surprise to me that there are tons of curry recipes in the folder.

A South African curry is a blend of recipes from numerous cultures. There are no airs and graces. The magic lies in its beautiful flavour and it’s a nostalgic feeling of homeliness and togetherness. My head is filled with flashing images of the beautiful colours of the nation. The bright, bold colours come from our food, art, clothing, architecture, and landscape. I wanted this to come through in my image. I wanted the essence of South Africa to shine.

There is deep-seated history in the South African curry. A history that can mean many different things to many people. It’s a signification of difficult times passed but also a huge representation of a colourful nation united in our love for flavour. Food has the incredible ability to break down social barriers and bring us all together in harmony.

See my adapted recipe below:

8 chicken pieces or 6 chopped chicken fillets

15ml olive oil

2 cloves of garlic 

5cm ginger

(blend both of these into fine pieces)

1/2 finely chopped red chilli

5 ml ground cumin

5ml turmeric

5ml ground coriander

5ml cayenne pepper

1 can of tomatoes

150ml plain yoghurt

15ml fresh coriander leaves (chopped)

5ml garam masala

5ml curry powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Juice of 1 lemon

15ml of fresh coriander leaves

Serves with:

Sweet fruity chutney

Chopped bananas

A sprinkle of coconut flakes


Fry chicken in a nonstick pan until golden brown. Set aside. Wipe the pan and return to heat. Add oil once the pan is hot. Stir fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Reduce the heat and add cumin, turmeric, coriander and cayenne pepper along with a tablespoon of water and stirfry for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, yoghurt and half of the fresh coriander. Reduce the heat and add the chicken and about 1/4 cup of water. add the garam masala and curry powder. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir and simmer on low for two hours. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Chop the remaining leaves just before serving and sprinkle on top.

Note: This on a spicy one! To reduce the spice take out the chilli and curry powder.

Tip: After you have simmered for two hours. Cool and refrigerate. Cook the next days for that added flavour!

Most importantly, share it with the ones you love x

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