Old Cape Chicken Curry, in the style of C Louis Leipoldt…

Old Cape Chicken Curry

I wanted to make a ‘new’ chicken curry, so I had a look at one of C Louis Leipoldt’s cookery books and found a chicken curry recipe. It must be remembered that C Louis Leipoldt when he was student of medicine in London, also worked in the basement kitchens of the Savoy Hotel under Mâitre Auguste Escoffier. So, he knew what he was doing behind the stove. However, poet and writer he might have been, he was just the opposite whenever he wrote a recipe. He used no quantities, no temperatures, no dishes sizes. So, I took his description and turned it into a recipe which the modern cook would use to get a flavour of what is in his pots on his stove.

C Louis Leipoldt, writer, poet, paediatrician, cook

In his compilation, Leipoldt’s Food and Wine, Trevor Emslie says ‘As is evident from the text, Leipoldt was not a stickler for precision measurement in the kitchen.’ How true.

Chicken Curry, in the style of C Louis Leipoldt

Serves 2 hungry people or three as part of a meal.

What you’ll need
60 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil – by choice we use Rio Largo
6 Chicken thighs, skin on and thoroughly dry
2 large onions, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic – chopped fine
A walnut sized piece of fresh ginger– chopped fine
1 Tbs medium curry powder
Juice of one lemon
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
60ml golden sultanas
1 Tbs coconut sugar [use ordinary brown sugar
250ml coconut milk
Water or chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

What you’ll do
Have ready a comfortable size casserole dish with lid, made of enameled cast iron. In it, heat the olive oil and brown the chicken thighs, skin side first. Do this over relatively low heat. Remove and set aside. Add the onions. I usually cut the root and top end off for wedging, cut in half top to bottom and them cut each half into about 8 wedges. This gives a bit of texture to the dish. Cook the onions very slowly over medium heat to get them golden brown This takes time – 15 to 20 minutes. Halfway through, add the garlic and the ginger. When ready, add the curry powder and cook slowly again to allow the spice to bloom and become aromatic. Add the lemon juice [Leipoldt uses tamarind water], apple, sultanas, and coconut milk. I used just boiled water to almost cover the chicken. You can use chicken stock. Season well, cover, bring to the boil and then cook on a heat diffuser for about 2 hours, giving it a good shaking each time you walk past the stove. When ready, taste, reseason. Serve with steamed white rice and chutney.

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My olive oil of preference – from Rio Largo Olives near Robertson

I used Woolworths Cape Malay Curry Powder which I put through a spice grinder to get it really fine. The only non Leipoldt ingredients are the olive oil [he used butter] and the golden sultanas.

Woolworths Cape Malay Curry Powder

Read more about Rio Largo Olive Oil – CLICK HERE


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