Are you aspiring to master the art of curry making? Indian curry has become one of the most popular food items around the world. Learning the basics of Indian curry making can unlock a world of delicious and easy-to-make dishes for you. From the essential ingredients to the perfect technique, this article will provide all the essentials you need to make your own delicious Indian curries at home.
-Understanding Indian Curry Making
Indian curry making is an art, and some would say it is the crowning culinary delicacy of Indian culture. From traditional masala to fiery vindaloo, the possibilities presented by Indian curries are endless. Whether you’re looking to make a dip to accompany a starter, a main meal, or a side dish, learning the essential techniques of Indian curry making is a must.
At the heart of any Indian curry are the main ingredients. Generally speaking, the main ingredients in Indian curries include a variety of spices for adding flavour, such as ginger, turmeric, coriander seeds and cumin, as well as your choice of vegetables, such as potatoes, peas, onions, carrots and tomatoes. Other ingredients you might consider adding include black or green cardamom, garlic, chillies, garam masala, and ghee. Be creative here! While spices are key, for vegetarian dishes you might also consider adding coconut milk or yoghurt for extra richness and flavour.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to get cooking! The method will depend on the curry you’re making, but generally speaking, the process will involve the following steps:
- Frying the spices and vegetables with oil or ghee until lightly browned
- Adding your liquid – such as water, pureed tomatoes, or coconut milk – to create a sauce and bring all the flavours together
- Simmering the curry until cooked through
- Adding herbs and spices to add extra flavour, such as coriander, cumin, or garam masala
Finally, take the time to adjust your curry to your own taste – try adding more spices, or less chillies. Let your imagination and taste buds guide you, and you’ll soon be well on the way to creating restaurant quality curry!
-The Ingredients & Spices
Green Chilli Paste
Green chilli paste is an essential ingredient in making Indian curries. This versatile spicy condiment made from ground green chillies is the base of many Indian dishes. Green chilli paste adds a great deal of flavour and heat to your dish, making it a must-have for any Indian curry-making beginner. Make sure to add it after your onion base has been cooked so that the flavours of the green chilli paste can truly shine.
Cumin seeds are an essential part of making an Indian curry. Their nutty, earthy flavour pairs perfectly with the complexity of other spices used. Cumin seeds can be used whole, roasted, or crushed. Use them in fried onions to enhance the flavour of an Indian curry. Cumin is an extremely versatile spice and can be used as an ingredient in many dishes, from curries to rice dishes.
Garam masala is a blend of spices essential to Indian cooking. The composition of garam masala varies widely depending upon the region and family tradition in which it is made. Typical garam masala contains cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, and cumin. It gives you a wonderful, pungent flavour. Sprinkle on lentils, vegetables, curries, and rice.
Turmeric is a necessity when cooking Indian curries. It imparts a rich, golden-yellow colour and a unique flavour. It is used in many dishes, from curries to lentils. Turmeric has a sharp spicy-peppery flavour and is especially fragrant in curry dishes. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and a great source of antioxidants!
Basil isn’t just for Italian food, it’s also an important part of Indian curries. Fragrant, spicy, and slightly licorice-like, basil brings a great depth of flavour to curries. Thai basil is the best variety to use for Indian curries. Add the leaves at the end of the cooking process so the flavour stays concentrated and fragrant.
-Preparing the Curry
Gathering the Masalas
Making a curry is all about finding the perfect balance of spices, known as ‘masalas’. Fresh or store-bought garam masalas are a must for a tasty and aromatic Indian curry. The mix of spices includes coriander, cumin, bay leaves, asafoetida, black peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. To create your own masala blend, you can choose to grind them together or roast the whole spices, grind them and mix them together in a bowl for a time-consuming yet more fragrant result.
The Base of the Curry
On top of your chosen masalas, you’ll need to build a sauce that will provide your curry with its depth of flavour. The most classic option for the entire base of the curry recipe is onions, tomato, and garlic. You can either pre-cook these ingredients and puree them into a paste, or cook them in a longer sauce using more spices and herbs. For many curry recipes, it’s best to use coconut milk for added flavour, nutritional density, and creaminess.
Vegetables and Protein
The vegetables and proteins combined with your curry base and masalas come down to your personal preference. Consider the kind of vegetables you want to use – whether potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, or other – and opt for the proteins that work best with the vegetables you desire. Whether tofu, paneer, meat, fish, eggs, or any other kind of protein you pick, make sure they’re cut into small cubes or thin strips which have first been marinated in yoghurt and spices.
Mixing the Ingredients
To assemble your curry recipe, add a dash of oil to a hot pan and sauté your pre-cooked vegetables & proteins until they’re lightly browned and delicious. Once these ingredients are done, you can add your ground spices, curry paste, and coconut milk. Mix all the ingredients together and cover the pan with a lid, simmering on low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes until a thick sauce has formed.
Garnishing and Serving
To get the final touches of your dish right, it’s all about choosing the right garnishes. From coriander leaves, chillies, spring onions, and yoghurt, adding these as a finishing touch can transform an ordinary curry into a meal fit for royalty. Enjoy!
-Essential Tips for Perfect Curry
1. Spice Selection:
When mastering the art of Indian curry making, it is essential to have the right spices on hand. Common spices used in curries include turmeric, coriander, ginger, cumin, garlic, and chili powder. Whole spices have a better taste, so sourcing them in their raw form is recommended in order to avoid any compromise on flavor. It is also important to remember that the quantity and combination of spices make a huge difference in impacting the final flavor.
2. Preparation of Ingredients:
Curry dishes require ingredients to be prepared beforehand. This involves chopping, slicing, and cleaning vegetables, and preparing the meat, if applicable. This can take a bit of time, but the effort will be worth it in the end. As for non-vegetarian dishes, it is important to ensure that the meat is properly cooked before adding it to the curry.
Timing plays an important role in making sure that the flavors of the spices are properly extracted and absorbed by the ingredients. Depending on the ingredients used, the cooking time can vary. As such, it is important to always keep a close eye on the progress and adjust the heat and timing accordingly.
4. Creating a Base:
Heat oil in a pan and then temper spices and ingredients such as onions, garlic, and ginger. This is important for developing the flavor of the curry. Make sure to stir and fry until the onions turn golden brown as this will result in a delicious and flavorful base for the curry. Once the base is ready, simply add your chosen ingredients and spices.
Once all the ingredients and spices have been added, lower the heat to simmer. This is important for drawing out the flavors of the spices, as well as ensuring that all ingredients are cooked through. The cooking time may vary depending on the type and quantity of ingredients used.
6. Adding Liquid:
Though some curries require no additional liquid, liquids such as stock or coconut milk can help to enhance the flavor further. Adding liquid also helps to ensure that the ingredients can be cooked properly through.
7. Finishing Touches:
This includes adjusting seasonings and garnishing with herbs or deep-fried onions. A bit of lemon or lime juice can also be added to enhance the flavor and add a bit of zing to the dish.
8. Presentation and Serving:
Indian curry dishes should be served straight away while still hot. Presentation is also important, so make sure to serve with some rice, roti, or naan. This is an essential part of the Indian curry-eating experience!
-Exploring Different Curry Types
Making Indian curries is one of the simplest and most enjoyable methods of cooking. The perfect ratio of spices and seasonings, select components and elements, and some TLC make these dishes some of the most delicious and aromatic meals around. In Indian cooking, there are several different types of curries, each with its own unique flavor profile.
Types of Indian Curry
- Tikka Masala – This is the most widely known and sought-after type of curry. Tomato, cream, and aromatic spices like garam masala, ginger, and garlic form the base of this dish.
- Vindaloo – Originating from Goa, Vindaloo is a particularly spicy dish that combines garlic, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, and mustard seeds.
- Korma – A creamy curry made with yogurt, heavy cream, and aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cumin. The mildest of all the curries, Korma is great for those who don’t like the heat.
- Rogan Josh – A classic Kashmiri curry made from tomatoes, onions, and aromatic spices like clove, garam masala, and coriander.
- Dhansak – A popular Parsi dish made with lentils, vegetables, and a blend of spices like fenugreek, bay leaves, and cumin.
- Ghee – Clarified butter is a staple in Indian cooking, used to make the base of a curry by sautéing the onions.
- Onions – Can be fried in ghee, or slow-cooked for a soft texture.
- Garlic – Used in curries to lend flavor and aroma.
- Ginger – Often used to make a paste for marinating and as a flavor base in curries.
- Tomatoes – Used to make the base of a curry, either fresh or canned.
- Spices – Various spices, depending on the type of curry, are used to make the unique flavor profiles of each dish. Examples include cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and garam masala.
Experiment by combining and blending spices to create your own unique curries. Create new flavor varieties by adding ingredients or playing around with the ratios of the different spices.
If you’ve been looking to learn the ins and outs of making a traditional Indian curry, then we hope this guide has acted as an informative introduction. Through understanding the fresh ingredients, layering of flavors, and knowing how to cook them just right, you’ll be able to deliciously replicate the art of crafting an Indian curry. So, grab your ingredients, don your apron, and get to cooking!