Cape Malay Lamb Curry

(Last Updated On: February 7, 2019)

South Africa is a blend of cultures. Over centuries of colonization and immigration, the indigenous cultures were influenced by Europeans from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal, and Great Britain. Europeans, in turn, brought slaves from Asia, including India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, which also had a unique influence on the culture. Each population brought their own food and styles of cooking to the region, as well.

Today, “typical” South African specialties range from air dried meat and sausage (biltong and boerewors); barbecued meat, chicken and fish (cooked on a “brai”) ; Indian-influenced samosas; all sorts of game; meat pies; and of course, there are the curries.

The Cape Malay people, who trace their ancestry back to the slaves transported from Southeast Asia (particularly what is today Indonesia) have a unique cuisine similar to Indonesian food. We met a chef in Cape Town who shared her family recipe for a traditional lamb curry, on which we partially based this recipe. We’ve added potatoes and carrots to give the curry more body. The final addition of crí¨me fraische (or yogurt) isn’t typical of this type of curry, but it adds a layer of creaminess to the spicy mixture that evens it out nicely.

Cape Malay Lamb Curry

Cape Malay Lamb Curry


  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 kg of lamb leg, cubed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups of potato, cubed
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 1 thumb sized fresh ginger, freshly grated
  • 2.5 Tbs Cumin
  • 2.5 tbs Garam Masala
  • 1 Tbs coriander
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 Tbs Curry powder
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 4 to matoes, crushed or grated
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 2 Tbs of crème fraiche or unflavored yogurt
  • Fresh Cilantro, Coriander for Garnish


  1. Generously salt and pepper the lamb cubes
  2. Brown lamb over medium/high heat in 1 Tbs of oil (about 3 minutes)
  3. Remove lamb from pan
  4. Lower heat to medium
  5. Add 1 Tbs of oil to pan
  6. Add onions, and cook at medium until soft
  7. Add garlic, carrots, and potatoes, and all the spices.
  8. Stir pan so everything is coated with spice mixture
  9. Cook for 3 minutes
  10. Add tomato and beef stock
  11. Mix thoroughly, then over and reduce heat to a simmer
  12. Cook until lamb is soft and fork tender (approximately 2 hours)
  13. Remove from heat
  14. Stir in crème fraiche or yogurt, garnish with cilantro and serve with rice

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Cape Malay Lamb Curry

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