A Durban Curry tale – Shane Holland from Durbs

”Durbs”. Durban. The second largest city in South Africa is home to the ideal surfer and laid back lifestyle. Durbs is short and sweet but let that not fool you as everyone has a slow and mellow feel – it may be the ocean breeze or the sand between their toes but Durbs is a perfect name. Durban curry is an anomaly—loved fiercely by locals and rarely so by Indians from India, feared by those unfamiliar with the complex layers of spices, the glossy sea of orange-tinged oil that floats to the top, the flavor profile that can be described as linear and unrelenting—it burns from the moment it hits your tongue

It all started in 1988

My first proper bunny chow. Sitting on the pavement with my friends after a night out. This quarter loaf of bread filled with delicious curry, the crispy sambals and a few vinegar chillies to remind us that we were just boys.

Friday afternoons, we used to seek out the best bunny in one of the hundreds of curry dens in Durban. Every Saturday, we used to get together and cook a curry, each one of us trying to out do the other with some special trick, technique or family secret that we managed to acquire in the week.

Life was good and we considered ourselves curry masters.

Little did I know.

After 15 odd years of dazzling my ‘wit ou’ friends with my curry skills, I was brought down to Earth in the form of my new housemates, 5 Indian sisters.

On their first night under my roof, I promised to cook them a curry which would change their life and establish my place as the master curry chef of the household.

5 Sets of eyes watched me like a hawk, as I started to prepare my masterpiece. 5 Sets of lips, whispering words to each other that I did not quite understand.

And then it happened.

5 Bodies, writhing on the floor in uncontrollable laughter – just as I poured my 3rd tin of tomato and onion relish into the pot.

What a wonderful day that was. 6 Friends gathered together in the kitchen, laughing and sharing special moments. Even though the joke was at my expense, this is still what food is meant to be about.

I was hooked.

To cut a long story short. In 2018 I decided that I had again reached a plateau in my curry cooking adventure and decided to create a group on Facebook where I could unashamedly go back to my roots of begging & borrowing tips, tricks & family secrets from other curry chefs – and We are Durban Curry Lovers, was born.

Little did I know what I was in for.

You see…  cooking curry is a labour of love. Each meal is a special occasion which brings the family together and every dish is prepared with love & pride.

The one who cooks the curry, is the one who holds the family together. They just have something in them, which is the best of what we as humans can strive for.

These are special, beautiful people whose kindness has traversed distance, social groups, time & space, as they have indeed shared their tips, tricks & family secrets with myself and the other members of our group.

To all the people who have joined our very special group, I will always be thankful & forever in a debt of gratitude for your kindness in sharing your recipes & photos and for your never ending patience as I ask you for for the fifteenth time in the month, exactly how do you cut your tomato, or how many teaspoons of this or that did you put in your beautiful dish.

For this website & the tens of thousands of visitors per month, we still have a long way to go, and many more stories to tell.

I hope that you will find a little something special, each time you visit.

But wait .. there is more, this particular story may end here, but another one has begun … and that is the story of my new friend, the genius spice master.

It was a dark and stormy night … oh wait, it was not night time, it was an afternoon and I was busy cooking a curry.

As usual I was trying to get too fancy and complicated. I was not concentrating and I put too much jeera into the curry and it was horribly overpowering. In fact, I put it in twice by accident, or three times if you include the jeera seeds which I put into the oil in the beginning. A schoolboy mistake.

I reached out to the wonderful member of our group, We are Durban Curry Lovers for assistance. I received some wonderful advice, but it was an inbox from one gentleman, which would change the course of my life and open up the doors to me acquiring this wonderful product to share with you all.

He basically laughed and said that he would mix me up a masala, that would be an all-in-one masala that would not require the addition of any other whole or powdered spices. His claim to fame is that he is a Food technologist by Trade & a Master Spice Blender with 26 years experience.

He promised me one spice that would be all that is needed to cook the perfect curry. Nothing else would be needed.

But, but, but, but what about all the processes and steps that one must take to cook a curry in the traditional manner? What about the history & traditions in going through all these steps?

If anything, what about the sheer entertainment value of hauling out your box of spices and acting like a mad scientist on a Saturday afternoon, as we chase the goal of cooking a perfect curry?

After my tirade and objections, he simply asked me, “But what about the flavour, what about a perfect balance every time? What about not ruining the R200 lamb like you did with your jeera mishap? What about cooking the most delicious curry that you have every tasted, every time? What about saving time, so in the week you can cook a curry in 4 steps? What about the money that you are saving, not having to use half a dozen confusing spices each time?

Flavour, Balance & Deliciousness …. I was sold.

“Now, Sir”, I said, “You must put your money where your mouth is, how do I get a sample?”

He promised to mix me up a Durban Curry version of his amazing masala, and send it to me – and sure as my name is Shane, it arrived.

I got straight to work and followed the very simple instructions, which is to cook your curry in the same manner that you normally do, but do not add any other whole or powdered spices, only 4 Tablespoons of the all-in-one masala, per 1kg of meat. (for the absolute beginner, there is a very simple 4 step recipe)

Without boring you with the details of how I was floating around the kitchen like the Bisto Boy, and how my neighbour came and said that she could smell the curry all the way down the road, or how beautiful the colour, flavour and finished product was, I can tell you that I immediately knew that we were onto something really special and at that moment, Durban Curry Lovers, All-in-One Masala was born.

The Masala is 100% Preservative Free. It has absolutely no fillers or additives. It is based upon the highest quality imported Kashmiri Chilli and it is blended with all the love and care in the world, by someone who can only be described as a genius and who lives, eats, sleeps and dreams flavour.

So there we have it. All that is left, is for you to try it out for yourself.

If you would like to order some of this wonderful product, you can do so through this website, our online store (launching soon) or through our Facebook store.

Love – Shane from Durbs


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