Unveiling the Spice of Durban: The Magic of Whole Spices in Durban Curry

As you wander the streets and suburbs of Durban, every now and then the heady scent of aromatic spices envelops you, an irresistible invitation to delve into the world of Durban curry. This legendary dish, with its unique blend of flavors, is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Durbanites of Indian Decent who have made such an impact in this city in all areas of life, including gifting us the greatest food on the planet, Durban Curry.

At the heart of this culinary masterpiece lies the artful use of whole and powdered spices.

Spices are the lifeblood of Durban curry, and the whole spices used in this dish are more than just an ingredient; they are the soul of the curry. One of the fundamental techniques employed in the creation of Durban curry is tempering the spices, also known as “Tadka”. This traditional method involves heating whole or ground spices in hot oil at the start of the cooking process to extract their full flavor. This method brings out the essence of the spices, carrying forward their aromatic depth into the entirety of the dish.

Whole spices used in Durban curry typically include cumin seeds (jeera), bay leaves, cardamom, mustard seeds, cloves and star anise. However, every chef has their unique blend of spices they prefer to temper, giving each Durban curry its distinctive character. Experimentation is the key; find your perfect mixture of spices that tantalise your taste buds and satisfy your soul.

Now, let’s delve into the practical application of these spices when cooking a Durban Curry.

Remember, the quantities given here serve as a starting point, and you are encouraged to adjust them to suit your taste.

Whilst many people add the whole spices in whole, we here at Durban Curry Lovers, prefer to roast and grind the whole spices into a powder. That way you are ensured of getting a consistent level of flavour from the spices. Whole spices simply added to the curry, only releases about 25% of their flavour and it is never consistent exactly how much flavour is released, especially considering the vast difference in the quality of the spices from one supplier to another.

If you prefer to add these spices whole, go ahead. There are very few rules when it comes to cooking and success is always determined on your own enjoyment of the cooking process and the results.

The recipe below, is almost a garam masala, but adding your whole spices, powdered, this way will be a game changer.

You could always simply use our all-on-one range, where all these spices are prepared and blended to absolute perfection by our genius Spicemaster.

Our ORIGINAL BLEND, for example, has 15 different spices incorporated into the blend.

Durban Curry Whole Spice Mix Recipe:

  • Cumin Seeds (Jeera): 10g
  • Bay Leaves: 4 leaves
  • Cardamom: 10g
  • Mustard Seeds: 10g (optional)
  • Cloves: 5g
  • Star Anise: 2-3 pieces


  1. Begin by dry roasting the whole spices in a pan over medium heat. Roast until the seeds change color and a fragrant aroma fills your kitchen. This should take about 2-4 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
  2. Remove the pan from heat and let the spices cool down. Once cooled, grind them into a fine powder using a pestle & mortar, coffee grinder, or blender.
  3. Store the spice mixture in an airtight container until it’s time to unleash its power in your curry.

Remember, the magic of Durban curry lies not just in its ingredients, but in the love and care that goes into preparing it. So, let your senses guide you and your passion for flavor lead you as you embark on your culinary journey learning the art of cooking Durban Curry.

Here is a list of 20 spices commonly used in Indian cooking, with the English and Indian names translated.

You are invited to join our Facebook Group, which is focused on learning and teaching how to cook a great Durban Curry.