Words by Warren Mendes
Durban is the third largest city in South Africa and sits on a bustling port on the south-east coast. It has the largest concentration of Indians outside of India, so it’s no surprise that there are some brilliant curries to hunt down.
Durban curries pack quite a punch. They use a lot more heat than other curries, with a typical marsala or spice mix containing over 12 different spices. Traditionally, the meat used was from ‘lesser cuts’, so plenty of spice was added to bump up the flavour.
I began my curry pilgrimage at the Spice Emporium in downtown Durban. You’ll feel just like a local when grabbing a snack at the in-store eatery, before wandering the aisles or concocting your own spice mix with the help of an expert. It’s a great place to get a feel for the local curries, which are defined by their spices.
The Oyster Box Hotel is a 20-minute drive north of Durban, but an absolute must-see spot. The beautiful coastal hotels the perfect place to have a cocktail by the pool as you gaze over the Indian Ocean. Most importantly, you should pay a visit to their curry buffet. Each day there’s a spread of around 10 curries. You certainly won’t leave hungry or lacking in choice.
For something a little more casual, try The Britannia – which has been a popular spot for many years to grab a traditional curry. It’s an easy stop if you head south from the Oyster Box. Bunny chow is a uniquely South African meal that is borderline genius if you ask me. It’s a curry served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread. As you eat your curry, with your hands of course, you work your way through the bread too.
To sample top “bunnies” as they’re known, try Goudens or Cane Cutters. Goudens is where the locals eat and is very simple, so don’t expect a white tablecloth. Their mutton bunny chow, however, is insanely good. Cane Cutters have won several awards for the best bunny chow in town, so if you only have time for one, then try theirs.
Durban is well worth a stop on a South African trip, curry lover or not. Its glistening ocean, bustling markets and abundant restaurants will add even more vibrancy and colour to the rainbow nation you’ve come to visit.
AVERAGE FLIGHT TIME:
SYD-DUR: 17 hrs
MEL-DUR: 19 hrs
AEST-9 hours (9 hours behind Australia)
South African rand (ZAR)
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
May-September, when the rainfall is lower.
English, Zulu, Xhosa