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 first timers.

On 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, writing 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, every dish is prepared with love & pride.

When friends and family eat a curry together, it is always a special occasion to be remembered. To me there is no finer food and no better way to spend an afternoon, than to cook a curry.

To all the wonderful 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.

Granny Violet

No story of mine would be complete without a mention of a very dear lady who holds a very special place in my heart.

Granny Violet (RIP) was the mother of a lady from who we rented a garden cottage in Glenashley (myself and an ex) at the turn of the century.

At first Granny Violet and I did not get on … at all. I was a wild young white whippersnapper and the family were, quite possibly, some of the most wonderful, decent and kind people who I have ever met in my life. I was running restaurants, working hard and playing even harder and it seemed that she always “had her eye on me”.

Anyway. After sneaking into the yard 100 times at all hours of the morning, doing my best not to wake Granny Violet up as I came home after a wild Durban Party, it eventually happened. Face to Face with the Gatekeeper. Gulp.

Granny Violet asked me, in no uncertain terms, where I had been all night and what I had been doing and what I wanted here. My ex and I had ended up at the new casino and I sheepishly admitted that we had been gambling.

Well, that was it. Granny Violet’s face lit up like beautiful summer morning and she confessed, as only an Indian Aunty can, that she loved playing the slots and that I must take her with me the next time I go.

I promised to do so and walked away from the conversation with a skip in my step.

Later that afternoon, I had my first green bean and potato curry, which she smuggled up to our cottage. When I tasted it, oh my goodness. I could not believe that such a simple dish could taste to complex and wonderful.

As you can imagine, I had hundreds of questions about Indian cooking and over the next year or so, we spent many wonderful hours chatting. All I could think about was getting to her tips, tricks & family secrets … and all she could think about was when we were making our great escape to the casino.

Granny Violet was one of the friends who I will surely thank God for, when we finally meet one day. There was just something about the way that her face lit up every time she asked when I was going to take her to the casino, about the way she looked like a naughty schoolkid when she showed me the R10 that she had saved up and had put aside to add to her secret collection of gambling money – and how she amazed me with her smuggling skills as she brought me bites, portions and taste testers of what she was cooking down in the main house.

There was apparently a standing rule of some sort or another that tenants were to be left alone and were not to be mingled with. Bringing them food, was a no-no.

Well that rule did not last very long, we all became like family. When I got married, this wonderful family took it upon themselves to all pitch in and cook the food, arrange a seamstress for the wedding dress and pretty much make the whole thing happen. I am forever grateful to the Moodley’s . Their kindness and thoroughly decent way of life was a great influence on me.

20 years later still have a jersey which they gave me as a gift, I wear it often.

The next time you are dropping a coin into a slot machine, think of Granny Violet. She may just bring you some luck.