According to Which? magazine, 70 per cent of Britons enjoy curry, while an annual National Curry Week is held each October to promote and celebrate curry dishes. The magazine advises curry connoisseurs to avoid ready-made sauces when cooking and make their own curry paste. Whatever recipe you choose, the following tips will help you turn it into an amazing curry.
Keep powdered spices fresh in air-tight containers. Curry chef Gavin McArdell suggests you grind fresh cumin and coriander seeds immediately before cooking, for maximum flavour. Use red chilli, advises Sanjeev Kapoor, described by BBC Radio 4 as "India's most famous chef." Blend your chosen spices into a paste with tomato, brown sugar or creamed coconut.
Add oil to a large heavy-bottomed pan. Traditionally, clarified butter known as ghee is used to fry onions and spices for a curry, but olive oil makes an acceptable substitute. Use plenty of oil, skimming off any excess from the surface of the curry with the blade of a knife at the end of the cooking period.
Onions and garlic
Chop onions as finely as possible and fry them over a low heat until they are soft and translucent, as the first step in cooking your curry. Peel and crush a clove of garlic and add it to the onions once they have softened. Stir, to thoroughly incorporate the garlic.
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Grate root ginger directly into the curry, once you have incorporated the garlic with the onions. Add your curry paste and then your curry's main ingredient, chopped cubes of meat, fish or vegetables. Make sure the cubes are well-coated in the oil, garlic and ginger. Allow the meat to brown on all sides.
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Make stock in advance, to add to the curry as it cooks. For vegetable stock, simmer chopped carrots, celery and onions in a large pan of water for at least two hours. Make meat stock by simmering beef or chicken bones. Skim any scum from the stock's surface as it rises. Store cooled stock in the fridge. Add a little stock to your curry whenever it gets so thick it is in danger of burning.
McArdle suggests you add chopped chillis to your curry early in the cooking if you prefer a milder flavour and later if you like your curry hot. He warns against adding chilli powder at the last moment, as the spice needs time to develop its full flavour in the dish.
Add chopped coriander leaves towards the end of the cooking period, to provide colour and fragrance. Always use fresh leaves rather than dried coriander, to make the most of its "delectable" aroma, suggests Sanjeev Kapoor.
Taste your curry towards the end of its cooking time and adjust the seasoning by adding salt if you think it needs it, advises McArdell. He believes not adding salt to home-made curry is "one of the biggest mistakes" people make when cooking Indian food.
Swirl of luxury
Add yoghurt, cream or coconut milk just before serving, to give a swirl of luxury to the dish. These ingredients create a pleasingly rich and silky texture to your sauce. Be sparing though and only add a teaspoon or so at a time, as too much can spoil your curry, according to the British Curry Healthy Tips website.
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- Which? Magazine; Top tips for curry fans this national curry week; 10 October, 2011
- BBC Radio 4; Woman’s Hour; Cook the perfect curry with Sanjeev Kapoor
- Curry Frenzy: Principles and secrets of great curry making
- UKTV: The perfect curry paste
- British Curry Healthy Tips: Cook curry tasty ‘n’ nutritional
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images