WHAT TO EAT: Chicken Karahi at Al-Hamra
The history of South Asians in South Africa dates back to when the Dutch kidnapped Indians and forced them into slavery on South African plantations. Later on, other South Asians came to South Africa for political or economic reasons. South Asians have been along for South Africa’s messy, violent, and extended journey into relative social stability, and South Asian cuisine has become an integral part of South Africa’s culinary palette. The suburb of Fordsburg is a hub for the Indian and Pakistani communities of Johannesburg—and their food.
Al Hamra is an earnest, family-run restaurant with large red and green branding and a cloth-draped interior that keeps it simple and classic. While their geographically sprawling menu reflects the diversity of South Africa’s population, Al-Hamra does one thing better than the rest: food from the Indian subcontinent. Maybe skip the beef stroganoff, but definitely dip into their quality halal options. We especially love their hot and spicy chicken karahi.
Al-Hamra’s chicken karahi is a classic Pakistani dish, cooked homestyle. With the bones still in, the chicken is fall-apart tender. The sauce, which is made from tomatoes simmered to oblivion and a healthy dose of vegetable oil, serves as a hearty base that allows the fragrant toasted spices of this dish to shine through. Ask for it hot, and then douse your burning taste buds with a refreshing chilled lassi. Yes, they do mango, but try the salty lassi for a little extra kick to your karahi.