Author Topic: How I Make Curries  (Read 3738 times)

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Offline Ian S.

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How I Make Curries
« on: March 20, 2006, 03:58 PM »
Hi everyone.  Sorry, long time no post.

Right - I've been at this home-curry making business for about six years now, and a definite pattern is starting to emerge.  Here's what generally happens:

1.  I find a recipe.

2.  I follow the recipe to the absolute letter, using medicinal measuring spoons for the spices and a stopwatch for the timing.

3.  I eat the finished curry.

4. I sit and re-read the recipe for about two hours, scrutinising every line in dismay, trying to work out where I could possibly have gone wrong ...

Then:

5. Full of optimism, I decide to try to adapt an existing recipe -  leaving some ingredients out, adding others, changing cooking times and so on.

6. I eat the curry.

7. I go to bed but am unable to sleep, kept awake as I am by the ghosts of BIR chefs chuckling and blowing raspberries in my ear.

 ::)

Actually it's not all that bad - though sometimes it feels as if it is.  The latest casualty of my technique (or lack of it) seems to be the Bruce Edwards recipes.  The first time I tried them, the curries seemed to be (to my palette) over-flavoured.  The base sauce does seem very rich, made up as is.  But like everyone else, I'm aware we're probably all chasing different things, based on our local favourite takeaways.  Perhaps some curry houses do serve food as rich and powerfully flavoured as the Bruce Edwards recipes.

On the other hand it's entirely possible that I just can't cook. :-[

Anyway, I've made a couple of batches of the base sauce since then, and halved the amount of some ingredients like carrot and peppers.  I've added a bit more water in the initial stage as well.  My other half now thinks the resulting curries are the best I've made, which is some relief (I think!).

I'm adding a pint of oil at the beginning too, and ladling it off for cooking the individual dishes afterwards.  But a problem I'm having is getting the oil in the finished dishes to separate.  If I use a KD-based curry gravy, I can put five tablespoons of oil in a pan for the finished dish and at the end, more or less spoon four tablespoons off before serving.  But my tweaked BE gravy seems to hold on to the oil - I'm lucky to even get a teaspoon off at the end.

Has anyone else had this problem?  I'd like to avoid it as it makes the curry taste 'over-emulsified', and will do my ever-expanding waistline no favours at all.

I've tried simmering for longer (meat ends up as tough as old boots), adding the base half a ladle at a time and evaporating off between (works initially, then gives up after the third ladle) and boiling the curry for five minutes initially as per KD (sauce ends up the consistency of Polyfilla).

I've just bought a new hand blender, and it's very good - perhaps it's too good, and I'm pureeing the base too finely?  Not enough water left in the onion particles or something?

Any ideas gratefully received. :)


Online Yousef

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2006, 08:34 PM »
Ian,

I can sympethyse :-\with you i am having the same trouble, I have been on the road for a while travelling and have now just moved into a house with proper cooking facilities so i have been busy making base sauce over the weekend.? I finally cooked a prawn madras last night and it was ok but not there.? The best effort to date was last year when in the UK i used the Baasar Mix that Raygraham sent to me in the base sauce.

I am pretty sure my problem is overspicing which is resulting in a powdery taste in the final dish.? Also i am having trouble with the oil that i spoon off the base sauce as it gets onion particles in and if left at room temp starts to spoil very quickly.

I am only using a hand blender stick thing as well which leaves quite a thick base but i suppose you can add water to thin it out when cooking.

This site has grown big now and there are loads of recipes to try so i will just carry on until i hit the jackpot, ive been close before but it all seems to have slipped away which really does re-enforce the fact that experience counts..... ;)

Heres the base sauce recipes i use

ingredients
4 large onions
1 green pepper
1 carrot (4-6in)
1/2 tin of tomatoes blended
1 cup of veg oil(standard coffee cup)
1/2 bunch of fresh coriander
3/4 litre of water
chop all ingredients put in pot boil for 30 mins

remove from heat add(these spices are your curry powder to use with the final curries)

2dsp turmeric
1 dsp chilli powder
1dsp ground coriander
1dsp cummin
1dsp Hot Curry Powder
mix well return to heat for 30 mins on simmer with lid onstirring occassionally. and there you have it remove the oil from the top before blending then return it to the sauce oh just blend to the consistency of puree for no more than a minute. if you have precooked you chicken and rice in the time for the sauces cooking time you will have cooked base form scratch to final dish in 90mins max. you can use this with any of the final recipes on this forum and don't be put off because there is no garlic/ginger in the base all i ask is for someone to try you will not be disappointed.


And this is the Prawn Madras Recipe (Cheers Pete i do enjoy reading your posts)

I managed to get another demo at a restaurant.
The chef even let me cook some of it!
Here you are:-

Prawn Madras

Thawed Frozen ?Ocean Beauty? Prawns (about twenty)
Curry gravy oil (kept in a ghee pot on stove)
1 tablespoon garlic ginger puree (very runny)
1 desertspoon chilli powder
1 desertspoon curry powder mix
2 desertspoons tomato puree (very thick paste)
Curry gravy (soup consistency)

Gas ring on maximum all the time
Heat 2 tablespoons of curry gravy oil for a minute
Add 1 tablespoons of garlic ginger puree
Cook for a couple of minutes
It doesn?t brown at all, just turns a bit darker and small bits solidify
Add the chilli powder, curry powder, tomato puree and half a ladle of curry gravy (in that order)
Stir then let bubble away for five minutes
Stir and add two more ladles of curry gravy
Five more minutes than get the prawns and squeeze the water out of them, before adding to the pan
Cook another three minutes then add a little curry gravy oil
All in all it takes about 15 minutes

No lemon juice, coconut or fresh coriander used!


Offline Ian S.

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2006, 01:45 PM »
Thanks, Admin.  I'm working my way through all the variations of recipes on this site - I like to have three or four shots at each one before moving on to the next.

I cooked up a new pot of BE sauce last night, and I've left it overnight before pureeing.  If I can only get the oil to seperate, it'll be very close to what I'm after.

But then all of the recipes I've tried from this site are very close. :)

Offline naga dave

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2006, 06:54 PM »
  Hi Ian,
           Re. BE's curries - when these articles were published there were still loads of BIR's that sold curries that were just as
           spicey and rich, many more so. How things have changed. The last time I had a meal at a BIR, my vindaloo + extra sauce
           would have made a pleasant enough casserole, just a hint  of cumin and chilli, but curry it wasn't. I recently had a take-           away from another local, vindaloo again. The sauce would have been fine with pasta - tomato, herbs, and the merest
           hint of chilli, but curry? Vindaloo? No way. Both of these were from popular restaurants. They are always busy, so have
           no reason to change. So is the writing on the wall for the BIR curry as we know it?
             

       
         


Offline Ian S.

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2006, 02:57 PM »
Hi Dave

Yes, I can remember curries being very rich, with - say - a Madras being dark brown. These days, if my own curry ends up that colour I dismiss it as a failure!

I've had a few stinkers from takeaways around here - one I had before Christmas just tasted like tough-as-old-boots chicken lumps sitting in watery Oxo gravy with shedloads of chilli powder.  That's no exaggeration!  But I think quality will always out; we've got our takeaway of choice in Basildon and all my friends recommend it to others - unofficial Curry Touts, if you like (or should that be curry louts?!).


I finally got the oil to separate from my BE sauce last night - I heated the base sauce to a simmer in a seperate saucepan before adding it to the dish, which I've not done before as BE says that hot blended sauce deteriorates in taste.  The first half ladle evaporated in the pan in about 10 seconds!  Also, I found that shaking the pan (as opposed to stirring the contents) really encouraged the oil to rise to the surface.

About two and a half chef's spoons of reclaimed oil went in at the beginning, and just under two got spooned off at the end - so that's better.  The amount of golden red oil fringing the curry on the plate looked just about right, compared to our favorite local takeaway.

Can I just ask a couple of questions of people who've tried the BE recipes?

In Pete's scan of the page, it says under the base sauce ingredients list "1 Tomato - tinned".  In Ray's excellent re-typed summary, he says "1 Tinned tomato".  So does that mean just one tomato taken from a tin, or one whole tin of tomatoes?  I've been using a whole tin so far.

(Sorry if that's a stupid question - nobody else seems to have asked it, so I suppose it might be!)

Also:  Do any of you de-seed the 4 green chillies before adding them to the base?  I have so far, for fear of making the base too hot (my girlfriend doesn't have the asbestos tastebuds that I do).

Thanks in advance

Ian
--




Offline naga dave

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2006, 05:38 PM »
Hello again Ian, Re. BE base : Definitely NOT a whole  tin of tomatoes, I imagine your sauce was really thick if that's what you used. The chillis may or may or may not do something for the flavour, treat them as optional. I suggest you reduce the quantity of carrots. The ajowan can really add depth to the sauce, but halve the quantity if you use it. Beware lemons in curry sauces! Use
only the thick skinned variety, sparingly,otherwise they have a nasty habit of neutralising flavours.

                                                          Good luck, Dave.
 

Offline woodpecker21

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2006, 09:51 PM »
Quote
  Re: How I Make Curries
? Reply #1 on: March 20, 2006, 08:34:13 PM ?   

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ian,

I can sympethyse :-\with you i am having the same trouble, I have been on the road for a while travelling and have now just moved into a house with proper cooking facilities so i have been busy making base sauce over the weekend.  I finally cooked a prawn madras last night and it was ok but not there.  The best effort to date was last year when in the UK i used the Baasar Mix that Raygraham sent to me in the base sauce.

I am pretty sure my problem is overspicing which is resulting in a powdery taste in the final dish.  Also i am having trouble with the oil that i spoon off the base sauce as it gets onion particles in and if left at room temp starts to spoil very quickly.

I am only using a hand blender stick thing as well which leaves quite a thick base but i suppose you can add water to thin it out when cooking.

This site has grown big now and there are loads of recipes to try so i will just carry on until i hit the jackpot, ive been close before but it all seems to have slipped away which really does re-enforce the fact that experience counts.....

Heres the base sauce recipes i use

ingredients
4 large onions
1 green pepper
1 carrot (4-6in)
1/2 tin of tomatoes blended
1 cup of veg oil(standard coffee cup)
1/2 bunch of fresh coriander
3/4 litre of water
chop all ingredients put in pot boil for 30 mins

remove from heat add(these spices are your curry powder to use with the final curries)
hi admin nice to hear from you again hope you missed us all after your little trip ;D i would like to thank you very much for being the only person that has posted that has nearly used the whole of the recipe for the curry sauce i posted from Rajver with the exception of the curry powder replacement of the garam masala (got an idea on that note i do agree on the whole i hate garam masala campaign containing the coriander/cummin being overpowering ;) i now believe that if you use the basic garam masala that, donot quote me on this i may be wrong, that ray posted using cloves, peppercorns, black cardamoms & cinnanmon in equal quantities(weights) then add the spices (except the curry powder)below to make your RAJVER masala this would be more on the right lines. aftre all remember the recipes KD wrote in her book(to all Newbies THE CURRY SECRET) used garam masala instead of curry powder/restaurant masala/spice mix.)
2dsp turmeric
1 dsp chilli powder
1dsp ground coriander
1dsp cummin
1dsp Hot Curry Powder
mix well return to heat for 30 mins on simmer with lid onstirring occassionally. and there you have it remove the oil from the top before blending then return it to the sauce oh just blend to the consistency of puree for no more than a minute. if you have precooked you chicken and rice in the time for the sauces cooking time you will have cooked base form scratch to final dish in 90mins max. you can use this with any of the final recipes on this forum and don't be put off because there is no garlic/ginger in the base all i ask is for someone to try you will not be disappointed.
 
my fav is chicken vindaloo which i posted and recently the next day all i have gotten is the sicky burps also acheived using BE base sauce none of the dishes i cooked have been using spiced oil as i believe fair enough the oil maybe recycled as bruce states they have a pot of hot oil on the stove. i believe this oil is used in the cooking of onion bhajis/somosas/precooking peppers/onions and some of the harder precooked veg this would then pick up some of the spicing from the oil rather than reclaimng from curry gravy? i'm not saying that your curries shouldnot be cooked this way but i think is a possibliity sorry not to get back to you pete!

anyway admin keep up the good Rajver stylee curry sauce. i have asked the local as above how they cook thier chicken korai so peeps keep you eyes peeled ;)

regards gary


Offline naga dave

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2006, 05:33 PM »
I agree re. spiced oil -  it is a by product of the whole process, but does have uses, rather than something that is deliberately produced. It might as well be referred to as waste oil. Another factor is that some local councils operate a collection and disposal service for used cooking oil.[Which they of course charge for] If a fast food outlet dosent make use of this 'service', it may be assumed that they are disposing of their oil illegally, ie, down the sink. So some oil has to be saved, just so that they can pay to have it taken away!         

Offline raygraham

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2006, 05:35 AM »
Can I just ask a couple of questions of people who've tried the BE recipes?

In Pete's scan of the page, it says under the base sauce ingredients list "1 Tomato - tinned".? In Ray's excellent re-typed summary, he says "1 Tinned tomato".? So does that mean just one tomato taken from a tin, or one whole tin of tomatoes?? I've been using a whole tin so far.

(Sorry if that's a stupid question - nobody else seems to have asked it, so I suppose it might be!)

Also:? Do any of you de-seed the 4 green chillies before adding them to the base?? I have so far, for fear of making the base too hot (my girlfriend doesn't have the asbestos tastebuds that I do).

Thanks in advance

Ian

Hi Ian,

Just to clarify the Tomato question it is just ONE Tomato and not a tin. Seems like too little to me but that is what is written unless I have misread it.

Similarly you only use one Tomato when pre-cooking the meat in the BE recipe.

Regards

Ray

Offline Ian S.

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Re: How I Make Curries
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2006, 03:07 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback and clarification, everyone. :)

I'm wondering if Bruce has quartered the amounts of ingredients he saw being used in the kitchen. It seems reasonable, as he lists 1/4 each of lemon and bunched coriander, and 8 onions x 4 = 32, which is in line with the amount that MarkJ was told by his friendly chef.  So if Bruce saw a whole tin of tomatoes being used, he might have got home and opened a tin to find 4 or so.

So I'll definitely try just one in the next batch.

Out of interest, here's a summary of the alterations I've made to the BE sauce which resulted in my best effort so far.

One pint of oil instead of 250 mls, for reclaiming - but no ghee

3 & 3/4 pints of water instead of two (and more added at the end, to get required consistency)

Two black cardamoms (removed before pureeing) and 1tsp methi leaves added with the spices in stage 2 - but only 1/2 tsp of ajwain seeds

Two carrots instead of four

One slightly undersized green pepper instead of half each of red and green pepper

One whole tin of tomatoes (whoops - but it worked)

Half a 2oz pack of cut coriander - as many stalks as possible rather than leaves (1/4 of a bunch the size sold by my local Tesco would be equivalent to a whole 2oz pack, at least)

No yoghurt

and I didn't add the Tarka.

Left overnight before pureeing, oil replaced after and the whole base brought back up to a boil then simmered until the oil resurfaced for reclaiming.  Cooled immediately in a sink of cold water.

I think the ajwain does need to be there, but (as everyone agrees) nowhere near the amount Bruce specifies.  The smell I've identified as being 'sort of toffee-ish' in bought curries is, I think, very close to the aroma produced by the combination of cooked green pepper, black cardamom, methi and ajwain seeds.  But they've never been mentioned by any of the chefs you guys have talked to (though thyme has, which does have a  similar aroma).

I'm having issues with the celery - I think it's responsible for a gritty texture in the finished base.  It seems to remain quite fibrous, no matter how long I puree for, and even when I've boiled everything for half an hour longer than the recipe suggests.

If anyone's wondering how I arrived at 3 & 3/4 pints of water, I weighed all the prepared ingredients and then compared that to the combined weights of the ingredients listed in KD's recipe.  KD uses 2 & 1/2 pints of water, but produces much less sauce.  So I scaled the water up pro rata so the proportion to BE's ingredients was the same (if that makes sense).

This produced nearly five litres of sauce - enough for 10 of my curries - once the extra water had also been added at the end.   





 

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