Cape Malay Lamb Pienang Curry


Cape Malay cuisine is unique to the Cape of South Africa, specifically in and around Cape Town. The Malay community arrived in South Africa in the mid-17th century from Southern India, Malaya and Indonesia. Using ingredients they found in their new homeland, a fresh style of cooking arose, based on traditional recipes handed down through the generations. Cape Malay cooking, while similar to Indian cuisine, is less spicy and more aromatic. The pienang is a classic Cape Malay curry, here served with aromatic rice.

SpicesIngredients (Serves 6)

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole cloves & 4 allspice
  • 5 fat cloves of garlic & 2 sticks of cassia or cinnamon
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 50ml (4 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 1kg lamb, cubed
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) garam masala
  • 10ml (2 tsp) turmeric
  • Small piece of tamarind (available in paste from many supermarkets) soaked in 125ml water (or juice of 2 lemons)
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) brown sugar
  • Salt to taste

For the aromatic rice:

  • Basmati rice for 6 people
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cardamom pods


Pound bay leaves, cloves, allspice, garlic and cassisa or cinnamon into a paste.

Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté onions and paste until onions are transparent.

Add cubed lamb and cover saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer over a low heat for 35 minutes.

Mix masala, turmeric, strained tamarind liquid or lemon juice, sugar and salt. Carefully pour over the meat, making sure that each piece of meat is adequately covered. Close lid and simmer for 20 minutes or until meat is tender.

Cook rice as normal, but add the cloves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods while boiling. They will add a subtle aromatic flavour to the rice.

Serve and enjoy!


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