Author Topic: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?  (Read 87601 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline TyeNoodle

  • Senior Chef
  • **
  • Posts: 93
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #290 on: August 09, 2010, 09:53 PM »
I decided to bite the bullet and ordered this book
Josh, the book's only about a tenner
Even if you don't like the recipes, it has some very amusing anecdotes
Sometimes I have  spent hours making a base and curries
And at the end I feel like I wasted my time
I didn't feel that with this book, and the curries microwave back brilliantly
The aroma is amazing
I think we take this all too seriously
It's been forgotten, that this is actually fun

Bang on! I had a garage full this weekend while I was cooking on the burner, making big flames and stuff.. and though "yeah, this is fun.."

Even better when everyone loved the food.. Just about managed to get myself a bowlfull, and there was me thinking I'd done too much..  ;D

Offline hk

  • Junior Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 14
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #291 on: August 22, 2010, 02:36 AM »
So far, I've made the following recipes from this book:

Tomato Puree
Tandoori Marinade
Patia Sauce
Vindaloo Sauce
Chicken Rogan Josh
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Patia

Curry Gravy (small-scale batch):

  • 1kg red onions
  • 100g carrots
  • 100g green cabbage
  • 100g green capsicum
  • 100g red capsicum
  • 25g ginger puree
  • 20g garlic puree
  • 200g tinned Roma tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1 dsp salt
  • 1 dsp coriander powder
  • 1 dsp cummin powder
  • 1 dsp asafoetida powder
  • 1 dsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 dsp curry powder ("Eastern" brand)
  • 1 dsp turmeric powder
  • 30g coriander roots
  • 200ml canola oil (fresh)
  • 200ml water (plus more for second stage of cooking)

I made the small batch version of the base (rather than scaling down, strictly pro-rata, the big batch version), as written above, and largely as specified in the book.  I calculated that it takes about 1kg of onions.  I did this 'cos Haldi made the small batch version, and liked it, and SS scaled down the big batch version (strictly pro-rata) and didn't seem to like it much.

I think the base is really good.  It gives a very pronounced and enduring "BIR smell" to the curries - it stinks the house out for days.  I reckon it's all that asafoetida (and maybe the powdered fenugreek) in it.  You can't really taste it, but you can sure smell it.  I'm not sure that the cabbage adds anything; I can't really detect it in the cooked base. 

I didn't use bhaji oil, just fresh.  I understand and accept that using bhaji oil (or other reclaimed/spiced infused oil) may very well improve things.

It's also nice and sweet, probably partly due to the initial stewing of the veggies in their own juices.  Be careful not to burn it though!  It is easy to get a burnt mass on the bottom of the pan.

I also used red onions (I got a big bag full, very cheap, so used them) and slow cooked for over 2 hours (the carrots were otherwise undercooked and hard).

Next time, I'll add more water to the initial cook.  Or maybe do it all in one go.  I'm not convinced about the two stage cooking process.  The risk is, as it stands, that you burn the veggies and spices in the first cook. 

I hardly got any oil separation in the second cook (I cooked it for well over an hour).  There, again, I rarely do.  And I don't really care.  I think the oil separation is a furfee.  BIRs get it 'cos their base simmers for hour upon hour.

The tandoori marinade is just that.  Bog standard tandoori marinade (typically used to make tikka).  I did add it to the madras and it was OK.  I'm not sure it's required or even desirable though.  I tried it with and without.  Both madras versions were tasty.  No "magic" there though (in the marinade, that is).  I think it's a little peculiar to add it to all curries (though it is presented as an option in the book).

I think all the "sauces" are a little strange and I'm not convinced they add a lot to the curries.  The "patia sauce" seems, to me, to resemble what some from Scotland seem to seek regarding "pakora sauce".  The patia, I made, was certainly sweet and sour, though it contains too many sugary ingredients for my liking.  But the patia was certainly edible and enjoyable.  Be careful not to burn the patia sauce much sugar in there.

So, the bottom line, for me, is great base, and great smelling ("BIR-like"...mostly from the base, I feel) and enjoyable curries. 

Taste wise, the curries are nothing particularly out of the ordinary (though I accept that using bhaji/reclaimed spice infused oil may improve this).  The dishes are arguably peculiar (with some "unusual" combination of ingredients) but they are nice, tasty and moreish nevertheless. 

Even the CTM  is tasty and moreish.  It is really strange (i.e. ingredients and method) and nothing like any CTM I've ever eaten before.....though I knew that before even trying it.  The fruit cocktail (plus juices) does add some nice sweetness to the dish without it being overtly sugary.

I find the writing style of the book rather imprecise and muddled (rather different from the norm and and arguably more interesting because of it).  For example, he talks about having identified that garlic is used in the tomato puree but then proceeds to specify using ginger powder instead (I used garlic powder).  Maybe that's just a typo?  But there are other, similar, examples too.  It almost looks as if the book was written and published in a bit of a hurry to me.

I think it would be far more helpful, to readers, to state precise quantities of ingredients (e.g. weights and volumes in recognised measuring units rather than "dips", "scant dips", etc).  His recipes are otherwise open to far too much interpretation and are difficult to reproduce with any reasonable degree of accuracy.  The book would probably suit more experienced curry cooks, than beginners, accordingly.

All in all, a good book, a good buy, a welcome addition to the collection, a great base....and good, tasty, moreish curries.  There are some interesting and different aspects to explore, such as the large addition of asafoetida in the base.

Here are some pics of some of the curries I made (some would undoubtedly prefer their sauce thicker.  No problem, simply cook them for longer):

Chicken Rogan Josh:

Chicken Madras:

Chicken Patia:

Chicken Patia (left) and Chicken Madras (right):

« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 06:01 AM by hk »

Offline Vindaloo-crazy

  • Indian Master Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 393
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #292 on: August 22, 2010, 04:58 AM »
Nice looking curries HK, I may give that base a tryout for my next batch. Cheers.
English by birth, Scouser by the grace of fortune.

Offline matt3333

  • Head Chef
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #293 on: August 22, 2010, 08:02 AM »
I have cooked the small version of the base about 3 times now and find it excellent.
I  use the Rajah curry powder  for the dishes rather than making up a "spice mix" are you doing the same.

Offline Panpot

  • Spice Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 557
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #294 on: August 22, 2010, 10:23 AM »
Just got the book in the post and still to have a look. Great pics HK thanks for taking the time, isn't it fantastic to be able to recreate Indian food like this and you are sure to be an inspiration to the casual visitor to our site who just needs a wee nudge to do the same.PP 

Offline CurryOnRegardless

  • Indian Master Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 287
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #295 on: August 22, 2010, 10:25 AM »

Good looking curries there, nice one.

Agree pretty much about the book, I don't think any of the celeb chefs have much to worry about from Undercover Dave but it's a good read and quite informative, you never know he might even be 'on the level'.
Done about 4 or 5 batches of the small scale base now and I've found that although you don't actually taste cabbage in the finished base, the type of cabbage seems to make quite a difference to the colour and texture of the base, I prefer white type cabbage to the savoy stuff, anyone else think the same?
Have you tried the Vindaloo Sauce yet? Pure rocket fuel, brilliant!

Hi Matt

Tried the Rajah Madras Masala, it's OK but I reckon I'll go back to doing my own spice mix, either the BE mix or Axe's IG work well for me.

« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 10:40 AM by CurryOnRegardless »
You can bomb people into pieces but not into peace.

Offline haldi

  • Elite Curry Master
  • *******
  • Posts: 1151
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #296 on: August 22, 2010, 05:40 PM »
HK's pictures look amazing
I've not cooked from it recently
But I can't wait to do more

Offline chickmurry

  • Junior Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 11
  • Still trying though " Spice is Nice"
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #297 on: August 24, 2010, 11:40 PM »

Pictures look fantastic, I`ll be ordering this book soon to try some of the recipes out. Much criticism has been said over this book on certain recipes, but surely that`s the reason we use these curry making  websites?" to try and get a close to the BIR recipes as we can.? and make positive suggestions as to make them better? not to slag people off for trying to assist in this forum.


Offline Panpot

  • Spice Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 557
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #298 on: August 29, 2010, 06:01 PM »
I have just finished reading right through the 30 pages here. I would like to thank everyone for making it a compelling read though there is a fair amount of disturbing negativity. I have yet to cook from the book but in my opinion it is an excellent read for a tenner. I have every confidence in cooking from it given the confirmations from those who have cooked recipes to the letter, I feel it's only fair to comment when that is done. When so many jump to dismiss inside information without actually following in detail a recipe it spoils this wonderful site.

I also firmly believe given my extensive travel experience and over 30 years of cooking experimentation in search of the perfect BIR meals that there is significant differences regionally never mind internationally. So to dismiss any Madras from a genuine source or any other dish just because it doesn't read like or even taste like local examples is silly.

The book allows us to cook a whole range of dishes from one source, just like other options on the site including The Ashoka posts but they get split up and lost. I wish we could keep genuine Sourced BIR recipes in their own section. Bye the way the Chef from the Ashoka gave me permission to post them for our site only and not for publishing in a book. If we kept them and others together we would have mini books right here.

Offline joshallen2k

  • Elite Curry Master
  • *******
  • Posts: 1174
  • Best BIR curry in Toronto
    • View Profile
Re: Undercover Curry - Anyone heard of it?
« Reply #299 on: August 29, 2010, 06:56 PM »
I've had the book for a couple of weeks now. I decided to make a few dishes and give an honest opinion on the results. I made the base, a Madras, a Vindaloo, pilau, naan, and CTM.

The base was easily the most time-consuming I have ever made. I made it completely to spec with the single exception being that I did not have asafoetida on hand. I would appreciate thoughts from others on how important (or not) this ingredient is. I made the bhaji oil per spec, as well as the garlic/ginger paste, tomato paste, tandoori marinade, and vindaloo paste. The lack of a true specific measurement system made the whole process more challenging than usual. I realize that BIR chefs do not measure teaspoons, veg weight, etc, but I would have preferred more specific measurements than the dipping system, although its certainly more true to BIR practice.

The base took forever to cook. I used the full-size recipe in a large stockpot. Cooking on lowest heat, meant that the base never got to boil. I had to crank it up to start the simmer process and then put it back to lowest heat. After the first hour, it was clear to me that the veg was not yet fully cooked. It took close to another hour for the veg to be sufficiently cooked. After blitzing and adding water, it took about an hour longer than specified for the oil to separate - but it did separate and give me a finished base that wasn't unlike the many bases I have made from CR0. So far so good, just a little (a lot) time consuming.

Madras - the Madras was good. I personally do not think the tandoori masala belongs in this dish. Its part of the tomato paste, the dipping, and I used the optional step of adding a little tandoori marinade (again without a measurement recommendation to go by). A decent Madras for sure, but too much tandoori masala for my taste.

Vindaloo - I made the Vindaloo paste, but strangely enough I can't see anywhere in the book where its used in a main dish.  :-\  I took a flyer and decided to add the Vindaloo paste to the Vindaloo dish. In my opinion, a Vindaloo should have more differentiation from the Madras beyond just heat level. The Vindaloo paste provides this. I used about a chef's spoon (again had no measurement to go by). This was by far my favourite dish, but again the tandoori masala did not belong.

Pilau - it was OK, but not as good as the usual pilau I use (Bruce Edwards original - not 2nd edition - pilau recipe).

Naan - the naan was actually pretty decent, and close to the formulation I use. I used my own method for cooking the finished naan.

Chicken Tikka - the tikka marinade was similar to many others I've tried from this site. There are better tikka recipes available here IMO.

CTM - I can see why the author didn't consider it a curry, as this one uses no base. It was a reasonably tasty dish, but it was not IMO a CTM I've had from a BIR before. I actually thought the pureed sultanas and fruit cocktail had a very nice taste. I might consider adding some of this to my usual CTM and see how it tastes. This recipe needed curry base.

Will I use these recipes going forward? Probably not. I think my usual Madras and CTM are better than these recipes. I may adopt the Vindaloo paste, as a way to differentiate the Vindaloo from a hotter Madras. The base is too time-consuming. CA's, Razors, BE etc all produce equal or better curries. The book itself was worth the buy, and the dipping system is most likely spot on BIR practice. An interesting and worthwhile experiment overall.

-- Josh
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 08:22 PM by joshallen2k »


  ©2020 Curry Recipes