Britannia Hotel sources local dried sugar beans and prefers to precook them in a pressure cooker rather than doing an overnight soak. “We started making the sugar bean curry about seven years ago, as an alternative to our broad bean curry,” says Shamla. “We’ve found that it’s become the favourite of the two among our customers. People come here specially to eat it.”
The curry kicks off with some cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and star anise fried in a bit of oil until aromatic, before chopped onion is added and fried until soft and golden brown. And then the masala magic happens. “Our masala recipe is a big secret,” explains Shamla. “We source ground spices from Gorima’s in Dlamini Street, and then make up the special blend ourselves. All I’m willing to reveal is that it contains chilli powder.”
Once the spices are fragrant, the cooks at Britannia add chopped tomatoes and potatoes and simmer it down, before adding the parboiled sugar beans halfway through. When the potatoes are nice and soft, the curry is done.
Shamla says one of the favourite ways to have the sugar bean curry at The Britannia is in a bunny (a hollowed out white loaf ) with their chilli-spiked carrot salad on the side, but you can also order it in a roti roll or on its own with a choice of bread or rice. “If you want something extra, I’d recommend you order one of our veg pickles and some puri (deepfried unleavened bread),” adds Shamla. “And some Mrs Ball’s chutney. It’s the classic way to eat sugar bean curry in Durban.”
Britannia Hotel, 1 299 Umgeni Road, Durban; tel: 031 303 2266; hotelbrits.co.za