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Basic Curry Recipes

Notes. The most convenient cooking vessel for most curries is a large frying-pan or Chinese wok. Meat curries requiring long cooking-times can be done in the oven at about Gas Mark 3 or 4 in a casserole with a lid. In general the cooking time of curries can be increased safely, and they re-heat quite well. Korma & Pasanda style curries are not so nice when re-heated, but still okay. The best kind of rice to eat with curries is Basmati. Wash it well to get rid of the loose starch before cooking and add a little olive oil to the cooking water to prevent grains sticking together. Use 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. Bring to the boil, add a little salt, cover and simmer very slowly. Rice should absorb all the water and remain fluffy and separate-grained. About 12-15 minutes cooking time is usually enough. Leave covered but without heating until you are ready to serve (this actually improves the texture). Can be done 10-15 minutes in advance.

Some of the ingredients mentioned below may be specific to British supermarkets. We have a stock-cube manufacturer named "Knorr" whose products are very good, another good one is "Maggi", but I doubt if these are well-known world-wide. Supermarket's "own brands" are usually okay. I don't recommend the ones called "Oxo" for these recipes. Also in Britain we have a form of cream sold as "whipping-cream". This is about half-way in thickness between single cream and double cream. You can improvise with whatever is available locally.

1. Basic Meat Curry

Based on about l lb. of any meat (Beef, Lamb, Pork, Chicken etc.) cut into 1 inch cubes. All quantities approximate.

Ingredients: 2 medium onions or 4-6 shallots. 1 small tin chopped tomatoes. 3/4 cup meat stock (e.g. Knorr-cube based). 2 tablespoons cooking-oil or ghee. I level tablespoon Garam Masala (Indian mixed spice). I level tablespoon haldi (ground turmeric). I level teaspoon chilli powder or 1-2 fresh chillies, seeded & finely chopped.

Method: Chop the onions as finely as possible and fry until transparent in the oil. Add the meat and fry until lightly browned. With stewing-meat it is best to coat the cubes in plain flour before frying. Add all the spices including the chilli. Fry all the items together for a further minute or two, turning the meat pieces frequently. Add the tinned tomatoes and the stock and simmer until the meat is tender. With stewing-meats this may be up to one-and-a-half hours or even more, with chicken and "frying" meats about 1/2 - 1 hour should be enough. Err on the side of too much cooking rather than too little.

Optional Extras: Crushed and finely-chopped garlic, added along with the onions (quantity according to taste). Peas, mushrooms (added along with the tomatoes & stock). Potatoes cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Add these at the frying stage, along with the meat. Remember that they will require quite a lot of cooking, in the region of one hour.

Tips: If curry seems too hot on tasting, add lemon juice. This reduces chilli-heat but alters the taste slightly as well, so don't use it as a routine means of adjustment. Emergency procedure only. For lamb curries (Rogan Josh) add skinned fresh tomatoes at stock stage (skin removed by loosening it in boiling water). If buying fresh chillies the slightly larger green Mexican variety are easier to work with and more predictable in hotness than the small red Indian ones (which vary enormously from one batch to another).

2. Korma and Pasanda Style Curries.

I usually use chicken or turkey-breast, but lamb is also popular. Because diced lamb need so much cooking you will need to add the creamed coconut much later to avoid boiling away its taste: add it about 20 mins. before serving. The quantities below are based on 1 lb. meat chopped into 1 inch cubes.

Ingredients: 2 medium onions or 4-6 shallots. 2 level tablespoons tinned chopped tomatoes (the ones with added basil are particularly good). 1 cup meat stock (e.g. Knorr-cube based). 2 tablespoons cooking-oil or ghee. l level tablespoon Garam Masala (Indian mixed spice). l level tablespoon haldi (ground turmeric). 1/4 level teaspoon chilli powder or 1/2 fresh chilli, seeded & finely chopped. About I cubic inch peeled & finely-chopped fresh root ginger. 1/4 block creamed coconut. 3 tablespoons fresh or long-life whipping-cream. One level tablespoon fresh washed and finely-chopped coriander leaves.

Method: Chop the onions or shallots as finely as possible and fry in the oil until transparent. Add the chopped chicken (or alternative) and fry until meat is lightly cooked on the outside. If using lamb coat the outside of the cubes with plain flour before frying. Add all the spices (including the chilli and the root ginger) and continue frying together, turning the meat frequently, for a further one or two minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, and the creamed coconut (grated or finely cut) and simmer until meat is tender (see above). Just before serving add the whipping-cream (not whipped!) and the chopped fresh coriander. Stir lightly (let it remain a bit streaky) and serve.

Extras for Pasanda-style Curry: Add one level tablespoonful caster sugar and 2-3 level tablespoons ground almonds at the final stage, along with the cream & coriander. You can mix all these items into a paste to stir in at the end. Ground almonds can be bought in supermarkets or the shelled nuts themselves can be ground in a food-processor, which gives a fresher taste and a nicer texture.

Tips: Put the cream in last and don't over-mix, as a streaky appearance adds to the attractiveness of the dish. I do not recommend garlic in Korma and Pasanda style curries, although I have seen it in published recipes. I find the taste too strong, over-powering the coconut and the almond. Save a few coriander leaves to use as a garnish on top of the dish when serving.

3. Seafood Curries

A very good curry sauce for fish, prawns, squid etc. (my own invention) can be made using cooking-apples as the base. It can also be used for curried vegetables, such as mushrooms, courgettes or sweet potatoes. If you aren't using seafood, substitute vegetable stock for the fish-stock/fish-paste. Quantities below make enough to accompany about 1 lb. of seafood or alternative.

Ingredients: 2 medium onions or 4-6 shallots. I large or 2 smaller cooking-apples. 1/2 cup fish-stock or level tablespoon fish-paste in 1/2 cup water. 2 level tablespoons cooking-oil or ghee. l level tablespoon Garam Masala (Indian mixed spice). 1 level tablespoon haldi (ground turmeric). 1/2 level teaspoon chilli powder or 1 fresh chilli, seeded & finely chopped.

Method: Fry the onions, finely chopped, until transparent. Add all spices including the chilli and fry for a further l minute. Add stock and flesh of apples, finely chopped. Mix well and allow apple to cook for about 15-25 minutes, until everything blends into a smooth sauce. Use a potato-masher to crush down the apple chunks if necessary. Add cooked fish (broken into bite-sized pieces) or cooked prawns, etc. shortly before serving. (Fish breaks up and disappears if simmered for too long. Prawns will also start to disintegrate after a few minutes stewing.) Because the apple cooks so quickly it will probably be necessary to pre-cook any vegetables if you are using this sauce in a vegetable curry. Cooked vegetables may be added as soon as the apple is well-crushed down.

Tip: To improve appearance of a seafood curry and make the dish more interesting, serve with button mushrooms or chopped mushrooms, separately cooked and mixed-in with the cooked fish. Garnish with coriander leaves.

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