Here’s where to get your curry fix in Durban and surrounds (a good curry is worth a drive), in no particular order and as recommended by locals and tested by me.
(Check out the June issue of Getaway magazine, on shelves now, for the full story as photographer Russell Smith and Sarah Duff eat their way through the nation’s curry capital.)
1. Sunrise Chip ’n Ranch, Overport
Sunrise Chip ’n Ranch is where you head at two in the morning after a big night out to satiate your munchies with a double chip and cheese roti wrap. This hole-in- the-wall takeaway recently featured in a local movie, Attack of the Indian Werewolf, but it’s more famous for churning out tasty budget curries, rotis (locals’ favourites include bean and gravy), bunnies and briyanis.
89 Sparks Road, Overport, tel 031-209-2020. (Capetonians can get a taste of Durbs’ famous rotis at the Sunrise branch in Main Road, Mowbray, tel 021-689-3250).
2. Little Gujarat, Durban CBD
Little Gujarat in the CBD has vegetarian dishes you won’t find at many Indian restaurants in Durban. The food has Punjabi influences, but it’s the southern Indian masala dosas (rice flour pancakes) and paneer dosas that stand out. Finish with a burfi (a milky sweet flavoured with chocolate, pistachio or mango). 43 Dr Goonam Street, tel 031- 305-3148.
3. Gounden’s, Umbilo Road
Gounden’s daily specials include vegetable briyani, mince curry and chops chutney, but most popular are the spicy mutton bunnies, loaded with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth meat. It used to be housed in a panel beaters, but it’s since moved to 520 Umbilo Road, tel 031-205-5363.
4. Govindas, Chatsworth
A futuristic Hare Krishna temple is an unlikely spot for a meal, and it’s a little-known secret that its downstairs restaurant serves cheap and delicious vegetarian food. If you don’t like it hot, come here for mild curries (try the butternut and potato option). The onion pakoras (deep-fried in a spicy batter), paneer and corn katchories (dough dumplings), and puri patha are also delicious. Sri Sri Radhanath Temple of Understanding, 50 Bhaktivedanta Swami Circle, Chatsworth, tel 031-403-4600.
Photo: Russel Smith
5. House of Curries, Florida Road
With big-screen TVs and a vibey deck, this is the place to be for an after-work beer and curry. The plate of six mini-bunnies hits the spot after a pint or two, while the chip and cheese roti wraps, and prawn and chicken curry are also delicious. The chip chow – a large plate of chips topped with curry and covered in melted cheese – is perfect munchie food. 275 Florida Road, tel 031-303-6067.
6. Capsicum Restaurant, Umgeni Road
Capsicum Restaurant in a faded heritage building at the Britannia Hotel is a firm favourite among locals and has achieved fabled status over the past 33 years. The most popular dishes include delicately spiced prawn curry, and the exotic bunnies (tripe or trotters). If you’ve had enough bunnies, try a curry-filled toasted sarmie instead. 1299 Umgeni Road, tel 031-303-2266.
7. Patel’s Vegetarian Refreshment Room, Yusuf Dadoo Street
Tuck into tasty vegetable or bean bunnies at this small, informal restaurant in the CBD, which is almost a century old. The sweets are good too: try burfi and boomdhi (small golden balls made from lentil, cake and maize flours, which are fried, then submerged in syrup). 202 Yusuf Dadoo Street, tel 031-306-1774.
Photo: Russel Smith
8. Vintage India, Lillian Ngoyi Road
Vintage India has been cooking up delectable north Indian curries for 15 years. Its claim to fame is the lamb rogan josh, said to be one of Durban’s best. The extensive menu also includes vindaloo made with a chilli paste imported from Kashmir, and la aziz (paneer and vegetables in a tomato and cashew gravy). 20 Lillian Ngoyi Road, tel 031-309-1328. (It has branches in Cape Town and Joburg, tel 021-462-5106 and 011-440-4550.)
9. Little India, Lillian Ngoyi Road
Little India specialises in southern Indian cuisine, with scrumptious masala dosas served with potato curry and zingy coconut and peanut chutney, and delicious homemade paneer. Other popular dishes are butter chicken and lamb rogan josh. 155 Lillian Ngoyi Road, tel 031-201-1121.
10. Impulse by the Sea, Tinley Manor
Impulse by the Sea’s prawn curries are praised far and wide – and it’s easy to see why: made according to an old family recipe, a generous helping of meaty prawns is covered in a thick, flavourful tomatobased curry. The Natal lamb curry and bunnies in unusual round loafs score highly too. 167 Sea View Drive, Tinley Manor, tel 032-554-4626.
11. Seabelle, Tongaat
Seabelle, on the beach in Tongaat, is delightfully unpretentious, with so-tacky-it’s-cool decor (think statues draped in gaudy garlands and posters of dolphins in lurid colours). Décor aside, it’s known for its tangy prawn curry, alongside other seafood curries such as crayfish and crab. 62 South Beach Road, Desainagar, Tongaat, tel 032-941-5551.
12. Ocean Terrace Restaurant, Umhlanga Rocks
Ocean Terrace Restaurant at the swanky Oyster Box hotel serves a top-quality daily curry buffet while you take in the seaside setting. Feast on 11 curries and an array of condiments, rice and breads. 2 Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga Rocks, tel 031-514-5000.
Photographs by Russel Smith