How to make mutton curry the Cape Malay way

Succulent mutton and tender potatoes in a rich tomato-based sauce; this classic Cape Malay curry is best served wrapped in a warm, flaky roti

19 June 2016 - 02:00
By Cariema Isaacs
Cape Malay mutton curry.
Image: Penguin Random House/ Nigel Deary Cape Malay mutton curry.

Serves: 4-6


1 large onion, chopped

5ml (1 tsp) peeled and finely grated ginger

5ml (1 tsp) crushed garlic

1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)

6 fresh curry leaves

15ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil or ghee

5ml (1 tsp) roasted masala or leaf masala

5ml (1 tsp) kokhni masala

5ml (1 tsp) ground cumin

5ml (1 tsp) turmeric

2 cardamom pods

2 cinnamon sticks

1kg mutton or lamb pieces

5ml (1 tsp) lemon juice

5ml (1 tsp) salt

750ml (3 cups) water

1 large ripe tomato, skinned and grated

½ x 410g can whole or chopped tomatoes

3 medium to large potatoes, peeled and quartered

15ml (1 tbsp) sugar

¼ bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped


  1. Place the onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and curry leaves into a blender and blend until you have a fairly smooth, paste-like consistency.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over a medium heat and add the blended ingredients. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add all the dry spices, including the cardamom and stick cinnamon. Cook for at least 5 minutes for all the flavours of the spices to be released.
  3. Add the meat, lemon juice and salt and mix well. Cook, covered, over a high heat for 2 minutes and stir regularly.
  4. Add 500ml (2 cups) of the water to the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes over a medium/high heat.
  5. In the same blender (no need to wash or rinse), blend the fresh and canned tomatoes until smooth.
  6. Add the potatoes and puréed tomatoes to the cooked meat and stir. Add the remaining 250ml (1 cup) water and cook, covered, on high for 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium, add the sugar and simmer for a further 30 minutes until the meat and potatoes are soft and tender.
  8. Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve while still hot with fluffy white rice or rotis.

• This recipe is an extract from 'My Cape Malay Kitchen’ by Cariema Isaacs (Struik Lifestyle, R295).