On Tuesday I attended the launch of the new book ‘Durban Curry: so much of flavour, People, Places & Secret Recipes‘ by writer-editor Erica Platter and photographer-designer Clinton Friedman at what Erica described as Cape Town’s best Durban Curry restaurant Vandiar’s Indian Cuisine on Dunkley Square.
The book is a visual and spicy delight, and follows two earlier collaborations between Erica and Clinton, called ‘East Coast Tables‘, focusing on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) coast, and ‘East Coast Tables: the Inland Edition‘. The two previous books won World Gourmand South Africa Awards, while ‘Durban Curry‘ was Highly Commended in the inaugural Sunday Times Food Weekly Cookbook Awards.
In the Publishers’ Notes Erica writes: ‘We both love food and cooking and the strong, bright flavours of the multi-cultural kitchens of KZN. But we are not chefs nor do we do artificial studio food shots’. Assisting in the book foreword as well as content has been M-Net Carte Blanche presenter Devi Sankaree Govender.
Erica told us at the launch that Durban is the only city with a curry named after it – there is no Johannesburg Curry nor a Cape Town Curry! The book is an ode to the multitude of curries made in Durban. Durban Curry is red and hot. It is unlikely to include cream, milk, yoghurt, or nuts.
I met vivacious Erica for the first time (and husband John Platter, the original publisher of the Platter’s Wine Guide, now owned by Diners Club), and she told me that she was wearing her favourite colourful curry dress.
The book is a colourful mix of favourite recipes of curry establishments in Durban and the rest of the province, with recipes of home cooks too. The book has chapters on bean curries; Bunny Chow; chicken curries; duck curries; lamb, mutton, trotters and beef curries; seafood curries, and vegetarian curries. In addition, there are recipes for pickles and chutney, for side dishes (including cauli rice, rotis, corn bread, pap, raita, and fruit sambals), and spices and masalas, with suggestions of where to buy them.
A last chapter involves John Platter, and his recommendations of wines to drink when eating curry. Overall MCCs, which must be dry and icy, are a perfect pairing with curry, being ‘fail-safe’. An off-dry Chenin Blanc is good to pair with tomato and onion curry sauces. A Sauvignon Blanc is another ‘all-rounder’, recommended as being safer than Chardonnay, which is only suitable to drink with ‘mildly hot‘ curries. John also recommends a chilled Rosé, young and fresh Pinotage, and spicy and peppery Shiraz. At the launch we were served Leopard’s Leap wines and an MCC from its Culinaria range. Recipes for traditional drinks Limbu Pani and Lassi recipes are also provided.
The book does not only include recipes but also profiles interesting chefs and their inspiration for cooking curry, and reveals their secrets as to where they buy their spices. Suggestions for where to eat the best curries are also made, and the daily Curry Buffet at the Oyster Box is included. The hotel’s chef Kevin Joseph has his Chicken and Prawn Curry featured in the book. Even MasterChef SA Season 1 winner Deena Naidoo is featured in the book, with his recipe of Sheep’s Trotters and Sugar Beans Curry.
The book is fiery and hot in its range of colours and photographs used to represent the rich curry culture of Durban and KwaZulu-Natal, which Erica and Clinton have documented with great pride and success.
Disclosure: We received a copy of ‘Durban Curry’ at the launch.