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South African curry: Lighter, brighter, faster
Milk Street Bowtie Cape Malay Chicken Curry

Cape Malay Chicken Curry

1 hour

Free

Like Faldela Tolker, we built the flavor base of our Cape Malay curry on lightly browned onions. We also used whole fennel seed and cumin seed, allowing them to add both texture and flavor. Tolker broke down a whole chicken for her dish, but we liked the ease of boneless, skinless thighs, which stay moister and taste richer than chicken breasts.

1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 4-ounce chunk fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 5 pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 serrano chilies, stemmed and halved lengthwise
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon), plus lemon wedges, to serve
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn
Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, to serve
Ingredients
  • 1

    tablespoon fennel seeds

  • 1

    tablespoon cumin seeds

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 1

    teaspoon turmeric

  • 2

    pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 2

    medium yellow onions, chopped

  • 1

    4-ounce chunk fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 5 pieces

  • 4

    garlic cloves, minced

  • 2

    serrano chilies, stemmed and halved lengthwise

  • 2

    cups low-sodium chicken broth or water

  • 1

    pint grape or cherry tomatoes

  • 2

    cinnamon sticks

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 1

    pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 2

    tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon), plus lemon wedges, to serve

  • ½

    cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn

  • Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, to serve

Directions
  1. 01
    In a bowl, mix the fennel, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the turmeric. Use 1 tablespoon of the mixture to season the chicken. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until just smoking. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic and chilies, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and remaining spice mixture, then submerge the chicken thighs.
    See Demo
    Cape Malay Curry Step 1
  2. 02
    Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 25 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain a steady but gentle simmer. Stir in the potatoes, cover and return to a simmer. Cook until the the chicken and potatoes are tender, another 12 to 15 minutes. 
    See Demo
    Cape Malay Curry Step 2
  3. 03
    Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Remove and discard the ginger, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and chili halves, then continue to simmer over medium until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
    See Demo
    Cape Malay Curry Step 3
  4. 04
    Meanwhile, using two forks, pull the chicken into bite-size pieces, then return to the pot and stir to combine, taking care not to break up the potatoes. Stir in the lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with mint. Serve with rice and lemon wedges.
    See Demo
    Cape Malay Curry Step 4
Tip: Don’t forget to remove the ginger, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and chili halves from the cooking liquid after removing the chicken. Also, don’t cut the potatoes smaller than 1-inch chunks; smaller pieces will overcook and break apart. Finally, don’t pull the chicken into fine shreds after simmering—the pieces should be bite-size.
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Cape Malay Chicken Curry

Get Ready to Cook

6

Servings

1 hour

Tip

Don’t forget to remove the ginger, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and chili halves from the cooking liquid after removing the chicken. Also, don’t cut the potatoes smaller than 1-inch chunks; smaller pieces will overcook and break apart. Finally, don’t pull the chicken into fine shreds after simmering—the pieces should be bite-size.

Ingredients
  • 1

    tablespoon fennel seeds

  • 1

    tablespoon cumin seeds

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 1

    teaspoon turmeric

  • 2

    pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 2

    medium yellow onions, chopped

  • 1

    4-ounce chunk fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 5 pieces

  • 4

    garlic cloves, minced

  • 2

    serrano chilies, stemmed and halved lengthwise

  • 2

    cups low-sodium chicken broth or water

  • 1

    pint grape or cherry tomatoes

  • 2

    cinnamon sticks

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 1

    pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 2

    tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon), plus lemon wedges, to serve

  • ½

    cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn

  • Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, to serve

Step 1 of 4

Season the chicken and submerge

1
tablespoon fennel seeds
1
tablespoon cumin seeds
2
teaspoons kosher salt
1
teaspoon ground black pepper
1
teaspoon turmeric
2
pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
2
medium yellow onions, chopped
1
4-ounce chunk fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 5 pieces
4
garlic cloves, minced
2
serrano chilies, stemmed and halved lengthwise
2
cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1
pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2
cinnamon sticks
2
bay leaves

In a bowl, mix the fennel, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the turmeric. Use 1 tablespoon of the mixture to season the chicken.


In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until just smoking. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic and chilies, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and remaining spice mixture, then submerge the chicken thighs.

Step 2 of 4

Simmer and stir

1
pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 25 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain a steady but gentle simmer. Stir in the potatoes, cover and return to a simmer. Cook until the the chicken and potatoes are tender, another 12 to 15 minutes. 

Step 3 of 4

Continue to simmer

Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Remove and discard the ginger, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and chili halves, then continue to simmer over medium until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

Step 4 of 4

Pull the chicken, season, and serve

2
tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon), plus lemon wedges, to serve
½
cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn
Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, to serve

Meanwhile, using two forks, pull the chicken into bite-size pieces, then return to the pot and stir to combine, taking care not to break up the potatoes.


Stir in the lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with mint. Serve with rice and lemon wedges.

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