Curry is a dish often associated with the subcontinent; Thai, Indian, Malaysian and Vietnamese cuisine all have quintessential curry dishes. But is there a defining SA curry?

Lawyer turned travel and food writer Ishay Govender-Ypma set out across the country last year in search of an answer to that question.

Her travels took her from Alberton to Qunu and beyond, and the result is a research-based cookbook drawn from every corner of the country.

Govender-Ypma spoke to more than 60 cooks and food experts, almost all of them home cooks who were recommended by their communities.

Curry has more than 90 recipes from across SA, including Qunu-based Noxolo Gamakulu’s beef curry stew, Lenasia’s Kadir Saloojee’s mutton curry, former Knysna restaurateur Sanchia Hadlow’s Thai meatball red curry and a typical Durban crab curry.

The stories from the cooks are worth the read too. For example, Saloojee’s father was an active ANC member from the 1940s. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he visited all the people with whom he had stayed while on the run from the security police in the 1960s. So he spent some time with Saloojee, who now lives in his parents’ old house, and Saloojee cooked for him.

Curry, published by Human & Rousseau, will be released on July 5

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