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Best Durban Lamb Curry

Best Durban Lamb Curry

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If you live in South Africa you would know there is a perception that only those that live in Durban can make the perfect Durban Lamb Curry. I beg to differ because I don’t live in Durban.

Durban Lamb Curry in a grey bowl

Best Durban Lamb Curry

I was raised in Durban so I hope that counts. However, my mum who still lives in Durban makes the Best Durban Lamb Curry. I try my best not to use too much oil in my cooking.

It’s something I take into account when cooking a lamb curry too. However, my 17-year-old thinks it’s the reason my Durban Lamb Curry is not authentic enough.

According to him I definitely should add more oil and more masala, that’s what takes the Durban Lamb Curry from good to great. Now that I don’t eat lamb anymore they can have all the oil they want…haha!

So here I was put to the test to replicate my mum’s Durban Lamb Curry and I think I have done pretty well, This lamb curry turned out perfect with it’s robust flavours and melt-in-your-mouth potatoes. I think I have finally passed the test.

Yes, don’t forget the only potatoes Indians use in their curries is Up-To-Date Potatoes. It is difficult to always find them in Johannesburg so I sometimes make do with whatever I can find.

Cooking a Durban Lamb Curry

The secret to making a great curry is to always cook your curry low and slow and of course, loads of love. Do not attempt cooking a curry on high heat and rushing the process, it will be a disaster.

It is also important to cook your spices for a few minutes before adding the other ingredients. This allows the spices to infuse and it does take your curry to a whole new level, trust me on this.

South African Indian Cooking

South African Indian dishes are a little rustic compared to dishes cooked in India, we do not blend everything into a smooth paste. You would also notice that we refer to the sauce in our curries as the gravy.

This is somewhat confusing for those that don’t understand the South African Indian “lingo”. I think people are more familiar with seeing the gravy placed in a separate vessel on the side of the dish.

Great for Bunny Chows

Lamb Curry was my absolute favourite dish until I had to quit eating red meat, nothing beats a good Lamb Curry. This recipe can also be used in a “bunny chow”. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain.

It is a hollowed-out half or quarter loaf of bread filled with a curry of your choice and I think the Lamb Bunny Chow is one of the most popular bunny chows.

If you looking for a recipe that’s a little different, you can give the one from Spruce Eats a try.


You can also try some of my other lamb dishes:

Mince Curry with Potatoes

Easy Lamb Rogan Josh

Durban Lamb Curry in a grey bowl
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5 from 8 votes

Best Durban Lamb Curry

Lamb cooked with aromatic spices the Durban way
Cuisine Indian
Keyword durban lamb curry, indian dish, lamb curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 4


  • 500 gram lamb on the bone is best
  • 80 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 onion cut in quarters and thinly sliced
  • 2 x 3cm piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 star aniseed
  • 1 black elachie/cardamom
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig curry leaf
  • 2 tspn ginger/garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp masala
  • 1/2 tspn tumeric
  • 1 tspn garam masala
  • 1/2 tspn ground fennel seeds/soomph
  • 2 roma tomatoes blanched and grated
  • 2 potatoes cut into medium sized cubes
  • salt to taste
  • few coriander leaves for garnishing (optional)
  • 1 cup water see recipe notes


  • Heat oil, add cinnamon stick, black elachie, star aniseed and bay leaf. Fry for a few seconds until it is fragrant. Add onion and curry leaf.
  • Once onion is translucent and slightly brown add the ginger/garlic paste. Saute for a minute.
  • Add masala, turmeric, soomph and garam masala and fry for a further minute. It will form a nice thick paste. Add a few drops of water if required.
  • Add the lamb and mix well. Keep the pot open and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. This is where the spices really get into the meat so do not skip this step. Add tomatoes, season with salt and cover and cook until sauce starts to thicken
  • Add the potatoes to the meat and allow it to cook for 5 minutes, be careful not to let it burn. Add a cup of water. Here you can add less water if you do not want too much gravy and if you are using very soft cooking potatoes. Sometimes the potatoes cook quite fast and your gravy would not have thickened by then, leaving you with a watery curry. Turn the heat down to a low setting and allow your curry to cook until gravy is thick and potatoes are soft.



Please take note that my recipes are created at higher altitude so I may use a lot more liquid in my cooking. If you are living at sea-level cooking is much faster so you may require less liquid, therefore you can adjust the recipe accordingly.
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Saturday 6th of March 2021

Thank you for this beautiful recipe. My lamb curry was an absolute success!


Monday 8th of March 2021

Thank you Tenielle! I am so happy to hear that:-)

Robin Dimock

Thursday 4th of March 2021

Hi Lorraine The masala you mention in the above recipe is that the same as your Homemade Durban Masala? Are the garam masala ground fennel and turmeric over and above that already in the masala. Thank you so much for taking the time to make these wonderful recipes available to the rest of us curry lovers.Keep up the good work All the Best Rob New Zealand


Thursday 4th of March 2021

Hi Rob! Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes the masala is the same as the Durban Masala on my blog. Garam Masala recipe is also on my blog, this is the link Garam Masala. A garam masala consists of a few different spices minus the chilli powder, it is usually sprinkled on the dish at the end of cooking but here in SA we just add it with our other spices. Hope this helps. Take Care:-)


Wednesday 30th of December 2020

Epic! Used your recipe and guidance to make a curry from some lamb knuckles I had. Result was unbelievable! Thank you so much for sharing.


Wednesday 30th of December 2020

Thank you so much. I am so happy to hear that the recipe was a success for you. Take Care:-)


Monday 14th of December 2020

Lorraine, that was fantastic! We’re going to have to try some more of your recipes on here. What a classic. Thank you!


Monday 14th of December 2020

Thank you so much. Happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe:-)


Tuesday 6th of October 2020

Lorainne your Durban Lamb Curry is the best recipe ever with flavours just as I remember when living in SA and missing in Australia. I’ve made this many times and my guests have always been very impressed returning for seconds and often a third plateful! PS... love your stories and other recipes too. Have now shared your website on Facebook for other expats wanting that all too familiar taste of Durban Curry - thank you x


Tuesday 6th of October 2020

Thank you so much Colleen and thank you for sharing my link. A friend sent me your kind message that you posted on the Facebook group. It meant a lot to me seeing I've had a few rough days. I so appreciate your kindness. Hope you enjoy all the other recipes too. Take Care and keep safe x

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