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Should I pre-marinate the meat in masala when cooking a Durban Curry?

Every now and then, in my quest to learn more about cooking a great Durban Curry, I come across the suggestion to pre-marinate the meat in a tablespoon of masala before cooking.

I have done it many times in the past but not for the last couple of years, so I decided to revisit this idea to see if there was any room to pack more flavour into a curry.

My first step, was to consult the members of our Facebook Group, “We are Durban Curry Lovers” to see how many people actually do pre-marinate their curry meat in masala, and try to pick up on some of the reasons why they pre-marinate the meat in masala before cooking a Durban Curry.

I held a poll and the results were really surprising. Out of 156 votes, 85% say they don’t and 15% say that they do.

The poll results

The bit of information which I gathered from the comments, was that pre-marinating the meat in masala may help to soften it.

I had some Grade C-0 Mutton which I was using to cook the same evening. Grade C-0 means that there is no or very, very little fat, which means that it is tougher and takes longer to cook.

I had nothing to lose, so at 08:00 I popped the 2kgs of mutton in a bowl and mixed in 2 tablespoons of Durban Curry Lovers, Mutton all-in-one Masala & a few pinches of some home roasted and ground jeera & dhania powder.

mutton marinated in masala for durban curry
2kg mutton marinating in masala

When I started cooking at 16:00 in the afternoon, the mutton had been sitting for 8 hours, which was enough to be able to tell if there was any difference.

When I opened up the clingwrap, the fragrance coming from the masala was absolutely magnificent.

Now I wanted to test to see how far the masala had marinated into the mutton, so I took a piece and cut through it.

mutton curry marinated meat

As you can see, the masala definitely penetrated into the meat, but now for the real test, which was to cook and taste.

I cooked the curry over the next two hours, on a low heat in an AMC pot on an induction hob.

I took my time with the cook. As I mentioned above, the mutton was C-0 —> and it was Friday afternoon which is always best spent having a few beers in front of the fireplace, in the conversation-filled company of my wonderful wife.


The curry came out amazing, as you can see. Even though we only had a few bites on Friday night, as the beers and the fireplace were just too lekker, we had our usual curry-for-breakfast, and I have to say it, the mutton was definitely softer than last week’s cook.

Even though last weeks cook was under exactly the same circumstances, same equipment, same recipe and same mutton from a whole sheep that I bought on special last month, the mutton was more like lamb.

Look, it could have just been the perfect combination of a low & slow in an AMC Pot that did it, and the only way to really tell, is to cook two portions at exactly the same time and have a panel do blind tastings —> so I do not want to cause any rage to the scientists among us, who I am sure know something that I don’t …. but, this time around, I am confident to say that pre-marinating the mutton in masala beforehand, resulted in softer, more tender meat.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

If you would like to try our amazing range of all-in-one Masala’s, please visit our ONLINE STORE

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