Ishay Govender-Ypma is a journalist, writer and cook based in Cape Town. She grew up on the ambrosial, sometimes hellfire curries of KwaZulu-Natal and quickly embraced spiced dishes of all kinds.
Her new book, CURRY – Stories & Recipes across South Africa, explores the fascinating story of South African curry. In it Ishay features almost 90 recipes from 60 cooks and food experts across the nation.
Ishay avers that “the Durban curries of her childhood, though a proud and prominent part of South African food culture, are not the defining curries of this land.” She didn’t take the easy way out in seeking recipes for inclusion in this book, instead she and her husband took to the road, travelling across the breadth of nine provinces. On the trip, both the dish and the heart of our people revealed itself to her.
“It became increasingly clear that a recipe shared without the context of a person’s life would be lost on me, the reader and the interviewee. While there are a handful of well-recognised chefs here, the majority are home cooks who were elected and suggested to me by their communities.”
CURRY is not an ordinary cookbook. For a start, Ishay’s Introduction is a marvellous and important discourse on the socio-political South African context of the history of curry and its communities. Even if you are not going to tackle any of the recipes, it will add some depth the next time you eat a curry locally. And with each provider of recipes, there is a personal back-story, adding authenticity and a setting to the dishes they share with the reader.
A plus, not common to all cookbooks, is that all the ingredients for the recipes should be readily available at your local supermarket.
Is Durban curry the real thing for you? Or maybe it’s the Cape Malay curry that gets your taste buds going? If that’s the limit of your local curry experience, you are in for a treat…
As Ishay says: “And I learned that profiling a South African curry as a single entity is a futile task. It’s as complex and interesting as the many people who make up our land”
So delve into CURRY’S regional nuances of the delicious diversity that is South African curry – I’m sure that you will agree that in more ways than one, variety is the spice of life.