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Author Topic: Hints, tips, methods and so on..  (Read 11198 times)

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Offline Chilli Prawn

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Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« on: October 01, 2006, 03:31 PM »
I have started this topic as means to keep the subject matter focused rather than buried ad hoc in other topics/recipes.  The idea is that all of us from newbies to pros can provide or obtain information that encompass the Asian cooking processes, so please keep the questions and other postings in this area only.  If it becomes popular then it can be made sticky by the good guys and gals who run this site, and thereby easier to navigate to.

Some examples of content are, techniques for making and using curry powders, pastes and masalas; cooking techniques for each part of the processes; using domestic equipment to get dishes like the BIRs do.  So it is not a place for recipes, but more of a 'How do I ....?, or 'When do I ....'? Please don't confine your posts solely to BIR cooking as you will find the processes used in traditional cooking work very well and sometimes much better for domestic cooking.

Please try and keep the posts short with a clear subject title or respond specifically to another post if you can.  Keep to one question, but feel free to post as many as you like.  Remember that nearly everyone who cracks the 'rajvinci code of BIR cooking' wants to share so don't be shy; go ahead and tell us all about the method you used.

Personally I am happy to share anything I have as long as I feel that my knowledge and expertise is not being exploited for the purpose of someone's book  >:(, and I am sure that also goes for a lot of other Forum members.  As I have said before am not a Guru; yes I have turned professional and I do make a many different types of 'curries' but most of the knowledge is in the head.  I only type out a few of my own recipes, but have many others that I have been given or picked up from various sources, that I keep in my document library.  On this subject area, you may or not be aware that there are no copyright laws covering recipes, however plagiarism can be challenged in court if it is done for profit, or cheating (in exams).  If I post a recipe I will mark it as from another source if possible but I may not be able to identify the source itself.

Offline Chilli Prawn

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Re: Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2006, 04:05 PM »
Here are some tips about the hot topic of curry powders etc.  In base mixes it is not really that important which powder or masala you use.  If you have a favorite curry house then find the nearest Asian shop and ask them if the supply the restaurants.  If they answer yes ask them which ones.  Then look on the racks for the large packs of spices (whole and powder), this will give you a clue to what brand(s) and what particular spices are being used.  This equally applies to the jars of pastes and pickles.

When you buy check for two things; the use by date (very important, don't buy if it is out of date within 6 months).  If it is powder, hold the bag sides and rub the powder inside between your fingers, if it feels gritty leave it alone and try other bags.  The quality of spice powders varies tremendously; it may have TRS on the bag but the origins of its content may be from many sources.  You may recall that there was a very big scare over the carcinogenic Red Sudan dye that had been put in some Paprikas and chilli powders to make it look redder, TRS was one of the sufferers of this scam.

Look at the colours of the spices. If say all the cumin powder looks the same colour then chances are it is from the same batch and the shop has a reasonable turnover.  However, as is often the case, you will see variations in colour with cumin and  this is because of age and the origins, if you see one that is paler than the other leave it alone.  This will come with experience.

Check the price labels.  My supplier is notorious for having different prices on the same products (his kids are usually at fault because they think it is a game!).  Prices do go up and down and the Asian grocer is not interested in keeping everything the same.  But price can give you an indication of age sometimes.

Garam Masalas  and Curry Powders.  To me I would rather make my own because they are my signature in some of the more individual dishes we make.  There are thousands of variations of the basic masala, mostly governed by the region of Asia they originate from.  A good general purpose masala I use from time to time is the one you find in Pat Chapman's books, and for that matter his curry powder is quite good too.  I use these with slight a modifications to make my simple Punjabi Gosht (Lamb) which is one of our more popular requests.

Pastes.  Well this can be a very purist subject; some say they would never use a OTS (off the shelf) product and they always make there own.  Quite frankly I use pastes regularly and I have my long time favorite (Ferns) which a lot of restaurants and Asian home cooks use as it is the closest you will get to middle India curries (it is made in Mumbai by Mrs Fernadez).  I always use Simtom Tikka Paste for CTMs and sometimes Jalfrezis as it is pointless making my own as this is simply the best for these dishes.  I do make my own however for Tikkas and Tandoori style, as they are the best in my humble opinion.

Pickles.  Try adding some pickles or chutneys to your dishes as you cook them, maybe instead of a masala.  The BIRs do!  I use some Ferns Chilli Pickle for my Madras dishes as it adds a very subtle hot and slight sweet and sour flavour. 

Vinegars, lime and lemon juices have a special place in Asian cooking. fresh tomatoes have a similar effect.  With the exception of Vinegar in most cases, when these are added to the final stages of the citric acid reacts chemically with the spices and creates that final flavour.

I think that is enough to kick off this topic.  This is a big area to cover so I am sure there will be plenty of posts.

Happy Cooking
C P


Offline Mark J

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Peeling garlic
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2006, 01:11 PM »
Excellent CP! (Stu might be worth making a whole seperate sub forum for this topic?)


One quick way to peel garlic cloves is as follows:

Remove the clove from the head and remove any extraneous loose skin

Cut off the root end part

Place the flat of your chefs knife against the clove and bang the base of the flat of your palm against the blade with quite some force crushing the clove.

You will find the dry skin now comes away very easily.

Offline Chilli Prawn

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Re: Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2006, 02:18 PM »
Nice one Mark.  For the ladies... you can put on your washing up gloves and rub the skin off!!  If I am making a garlic puree, I just top an tail an lob the cloves,  skin an all, in to the blender!  Labour costs me money  ::)

Happy Cooking
C P

Offline Curry King

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Re: Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2006, 02:23 PM »
I second that idea about a sub forum for hints and tips.  I did mention to CP that we maybe sticky an info thread but a sub forum would be a lot easier to read through than a massive thread.
Cr0, simply the best FREE curry site on the web

Offline snowdog

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Re: Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2006, 02:42 PM »
Another garlic one.

When you get a bulb where the cloves and the skin are fused together (don't you just hate that?), just give them 5-10 seconds in the microwave (not enough to cook them or affect the taste).

Experiment with your own microwave, but when you get the time right the skin just falls off when you top and tail the cloves.

Offline Ashes

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Re: Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2006, 03:26 PM »
I third that idea about a sub forum for hints and tips, Cp?s got some good ideas!!
Id love to see some of your dishes CP, gg.

Regards A

Offline Chilli Prawn

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Re: Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2006, 06:33 PM »
I was looking at Layne's magnificent piccies of his Chicken Tikka and it brought to mind the problems I had in the early days (and still do now) trying to get the burnt edges without drying out or toughening the Chicken/meat pieces.  The best I found was to have very good gas grill, but they are as rare as rocking horse whatsits these days, unless you have a professional kitchen and loadsa money.  So I decided to use the Western chef approach and bought a plumber's gas blow torch; I use the propane mixture as it is far hotter than butane, and I bought the lamp from B&Q (US manufacture).

So here is the process in full, and I will post a couple of recipes on the appropriate thread later.  All the process steps are quite important to get the finish something like the Asians do in their Tandoors.  Good BIRs use these steps (except blow lamp!), as far as I know, but your average High St jobbies just use a jar of Pataks (or similar) Tikka or Tandoori paste.

Use fresh (defrosted) Chicken breast  If the fillet is in remove it as this cooks quicker than the rest, and will break up or toughen if you leave it in.

Cut the chicken in to roughly one inch squares, including the fillets

Put the lot in a bowl and add loads of lemon juice, roughly 1/2 tsp per breast

Add lots of salt, about half the quantity of the lemon juice.

Mix very well and put in the fridge for about 1/2 to 1 hour (you might wish to give it a couple of mixes during this time.

Remove from the fridge and add the marinade.  Mix in well and return to the fridge for your marinating time.  Again give it a mix now and again.

Cook the pieces as fast as possible for a few minutes in whatever masala you use next, just so the juices have started to run clear and no more.  Press with your finger they should just be coming firm.  This takes practice but it is the best guide you can have save cutting the pieces open.

Remove from the heat.  Sprinkle with dry masala (if you use one) then blast away with the blow torch until you get the burnt bits.

You should have perfect (tandoor) tasting tikka!

Did you know Tikka simply means grilled, Tandoori Chicken is simply known as Chicken Tikka in Asia and the Middle East.

I have added some advice and tips on colourants in Layne's Tikka thread (under pictures I recall).  I may re-post them here if you feel it is needed.

I have also posted some advice on marination and storage times.

Hope this helps
Happy Cooking
C P

Offline CurryCanuck

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Re: Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2006, 01:11 AM »
I have always done my chicken tikka / tandoori on the gas BBQ . I use a skewer on the rotisserie - the meat turns out both tender and with those desireable burnt edges The key on the BBQ is to control the heat zones according to the density of the food that you are preparing . Meat , veggies and fish develop a whole new flavour when prepped in this manor - but seasoning is key - use liberal amounts of salt and pepper .

Offline Chilli Prawn

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Re: Hints, tips, methods and so on..
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2006, 10:20 AM »
Well CC you are replicating the function of the Tandoor to some extent when you use a BBQ, and your advice is spot on.  I know that in Canada BBQs are used regularly for every day cooking throughout the year (my family over there do even in thick snow!!!!).  You can get similar if you flash fry in a Wok/Kharai.   When I get around to posting my CTM recipe in full you will see the method I use for production runs.  Thanks again for your input.  These are the things that could really be individual topics in a sub-forum though, so that they can be searched on more easily.

Happy Cooking
C P


 


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