Cook This: Goat and Durian Curry

January 31, 2017

Using fruit in savory dishes carries stigma. Finding a rogue slice of apple or prunes in your dinner can merit two reactions: excitement and revulsion (depending on who finds the errant fruit). Whether it’s pineapples on pizza or raisins in a macaroni salad, fruits in savory dishes receive the ire of many. Adding the most dividing fruit out there to an already strong dish is risky, but one that is truly rewarding.

In this recipe, Malaysian style curry is flavored with homemade sambal and durian jam. The pungent durian contributes its fruitiness and sweetness to the dish without its strong overwhelming aroma. The spices and fruit combine for a flavorful stew that eases the fruit averse into enjoying sweet savory dishes.

This recipe requires a bit of elbow grease: the spice mix has to be ground while the sambal needs to be chopped, cooked, and blended. Once you get past preparing the spice mix and the sambal paste, the rest of the recipe is easy. The goat or lamb simmers for two to three hours until tender, letting the spices meld together and breaking down the connective tissues of the meat—yielding fork-tender meat and a thick rich sauce. But if hovering over this stew sounds like a chore for you, feel free to prepare all the components ahead of time and cook the curry in a slow cooker.

Goat and Durian Curry

Yield: 7 portions
Time: 4 hours


  • 1.2 kg goat meat, boneless cubed (if unavailable, use lamb)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 pcs cinnamon bark
  • 3 pcs star anise
  • 3 tbsp durian jam
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • salt, to taste

Ingredients: Spice Mix

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, whole
  • 10 pcs cashew
  • 8 pcs cloves, whole
  • 1 tsp coriander seed, whole
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns, whole
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

Ingredients: Sambal

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 pcs white onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 pcs garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 pcs red thai chili, roughly chopped
  • 25g ginger, roughly chopped
  • 25g galanggal, roughly chopped
  • 200g tomato, cut into quarters (around 6 small tomatoes)

Procedure: Spice Mix

  1. Toast all the whole spices and cashews individually.
  2. Place in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and pulverize.
  3. Mix with powdered nutmeg.

Procedure: Sambal

  1. Heat a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add oil and sambal ingredients except the tomato.
  3. Cook aromatics until the ingredients soften and change color.
  4. Add the spice mix, toss through the hot oil and immediately add the tomatoes.
  5. Cook the tomatoes down until softened.
  6. Remove from heat and blend until it forms a paste.
  7. Return to heat and cook the sambal paste until oil starts to separate.
  8. Add the coconut milk and durian jam to the pot. Cook down until slightly thickened.
  9. Season to taste.
  10. Add lamb and mix through to coat with the sauce.
  11. Cook until lamb is tender (2–3 hours) and the sauce has thinned.
  12. Adjust seasoning and sourness with tamarind paste.
  13. Serve with steamed rice and garnish with coriander.
Bernice Escobar SEE AUTHOR Bernice Escobar

Bernice loves to get nerdy about food and making people hungry. In her free time, she attempts to play with her anti-social cat and fantasizes about all things sweet.

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