Virtual Seminar 2:
In search of the perfect curry in two contemporary cookbooks

Date and time:
June 29, 2021  13:30PM – 15:30PM Johannesburg
Meeting ID: 912 1835 5844
Zoom link: 
Skype link: 

Presenters: Prof Vasu Reddy (University of Pretoria) and
Prof Relebohile Moletsane (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
Discussant: Ishay Govender (Author of Curry: Stories and Recipes across South Africa, 2017)


This seminar is based on research that responds in descriptive, analytical and discursive ways about a persistent question that has concerned celebrity chefs, restauranteurs, cookbook authors; including everyday consumers of curry as well. Is there a perfect curry? If so, what is it? What are its attributes? What are the ingredients, processes and methods to create the perfect recipe? Does curry have a unique heritage and identity? If yes, where is it located and to whom does it belong?

To respond to these questions we undertook an analysis of two contemporary South African cookbooks: Durban Curry (2014) and Durban Curry: Up2Date (2019). In this seminar we situate our discussion of the texts partly in conjunction with Indian Delights (originally published in 1961), a pioneering volume focused on Indian food, which serves as an inter text to the cookbooks to be discussed. The seminar offers a textual and symptomatic reading of the cookbooks to:

  • Engage the meanings of ‘curry’
  • Discuss the gendered meaning of food work and cookbooks
  • Describe and analyze some representational aspects of the two texts
  • Provoke and provide some tentative conclusions to the issues raised by the title
  • Provoke ideas for further research for new researchers’ work on humanities-related food studies

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