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Cape Malay lamb curry

Instead of using ready-made curry mix, this recipe for Cape Malay lamb curry combines basic spices (ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves) into one of South Africa’s best curries. The long list of spices may let it sound complex, but is surprisingly easy to make.

We found this recipe in Faldela Williams’ The Cape Malay Cookbook (which you will find on and, as well as her The Cape Malay Illustrated Cookbook (available from both and

We have adapted Faldela’s recipe a wee bit by using more tomato, but reducing both the chilli and water.


  • 500 gram lamb, diced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large or 3 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tin (400 gram) tomatoes or 4 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) turmeric
  • 3 cinnamon quills
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon (½ ml) chilli powder (you can increase it to 1/2 teaspoon if you prefer it hot)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar
  • ½ cup (125 ml) water
  • Frying oil
  • Fresh coriander leaves to garnish


  1. Combine meat and spices in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Sauté the onions in a medium saucepan until it start to brown, taking care not to burn it.
  3. Add meat, tomato, sugar and water, stir through and simmer for 30 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the cubed potato and simmer until the potatoes are soft. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Serve on white rice.