Curry, really hot Indian curries, were brought to the colony of Natal (today's KwaZulu-Natal province) by indentured sugarcane laborers more than a century ago, who brought with them the aromatic foods of India. When their contracts were up, few chose to return to their homeland and Durban is richer for it. Just be warned though, when you eat out in Durban it's a brave man or woman who asks for their curry hot; even braver the one who sends their plate back to the kitchen to “please make it hotter”. But be bold and try some of these, or you can't say you're really been to Durban at all.
This is the most popular really good curry den in town, although 'den' does an injustice to this old suburban house in Morningside with its twin palm trees and rather vast north Indian menu: lamb vindaloo, rogan josh, chicken korma, butter chicken, fish, prawn and vegetable curries, naan or more chewy paratha bread, even dhimgri dholma (a mushroom curry) … you get the picture, and all, as they say. And in true local style, where they prefer to drink beer with their curries, the wine list is somewhat humble (you can take your own - we sugggest an off-dry Gewürtztraminer). The staff really know their food though, so you can debate the benefits of sambals, or ask for something special.
485 Windermere Road, Morningside
Tel 031 312 1440
Some Other Hot Joints to Try
Other curry places to try are the Sea Belle in La Lucia, where people make a pilgrimage for the prawn curry, even if it is a bit of a flash-dance venue (flashy disco at night, curry restaurant by day when the tattiness shows). The Ulundi Room in the Royal Hotel, so long as you are not put off by a high-rise downtown hotel, remains a firm favourite of old style dining where waiters might be second generation.
And then there are the two Florida Road 'dens', Taste of India and Spice on Florida, where the food remains good in spite of the “hip and happening” reputation of the area.
(Don't) Try This at Home
If you don't want to eat out or cook in, there's a skanky little curry take-away in Durban North called Some Like It Hot. You'll find it at the corner of Umhlanga Rocks Drive and the road formerly known as Northway, a continuation of NMR Avenue across the Umngeni River into Durban North. The house speciality is bunny chows. Remember to have the fire brigade's number at hand.
3 Umhlanga Rocks Drive, Durban North
Tel: 031 563 1322