Good Food blog
How to make the perfect curry
Dreaming of the perfect dal? Fancy a mouth-watering madras? We asked top curry experts for their best tips
Preparing a curry at home can seem like a formidable and time-consuming business, with a long list of ingredients and high expectations to contend with. Getting a curry right can be a balancing act. But choose a good recipe and stick to a few simple rules, and you can achieve curry perfection.
We asked Rohit Chugh, founder of London's Indian street food restaurant, Roti Chai and greatcurryrecipes.net blogger Dan Toombs, aka The Curry Guy, for their secrets to making a good curry.
Start with the basics
Making a good curry is no flash in the pan. To achieve the best flavour, you have to invest time from the start. This lamb curry for example, needs four hours to marinate. Slow cooking your meat can be vital for flavour too, says Rohit.
“People take shortcuts by using the wrong equipment,” he says. “When braising, always use a heavy bottomed pan to cook slowly on a low heat or you risk drying out the meat and trapping in the flavour. The key is letting the flavours infuse throughout and allowing the spices to get inside the meat.”
Fresh herbs and spices
Curry leaves, coriander, garlic, ginger and chillies are among the ingredients you will most commonly need. Don’t worry if you don’t have easy access to fresh herbs and spices. Our fenugreek chicken recipe uses dried fenugreek.
Alternatively, “it’s fine to bulk buy, grind and blend these products into pastes with a little water and freeze them in ice cube trays to be added to curries,” says Dan. “You will not lose much flavour.”
After putting time, effort and love into your curry, the last thing you want to do is fall at the final hurdle.
“Yogurt is used to thicken and flavour many curries,” says Dan. “It is important to add it one tablespoon at a time while stirring constantly. If you add the yogurt too quickly, it will curdle. A lot of cookbooks fail to point this out.”
And if your sauce is too thick? “If you need to thin your sauce, the best option is water. It’s the thickness of the sauce that’s the problem, not the flavour. Adding another ingredient will put the balance out,” says Rohit.
Don’t be heavy handed
If your dish tastes bland, it’s tempting to add more spice. “People often think Indian food is all about heat,” says Rohit.
“Being heavy handed with herbs and spices can ruin a dish, especially in the case of, say, saffron and turmeric. But actually, people often forget about the basics – salt and pepper. Missing your basic seasoning can often throw a dish out and is often where people go wrong and panic by putting more spices in.”
Finally, be brave
Curry recipes have evolved over time, so don’t be afraid to adapt recipes as you become more confident.
“A lot of recipes have been passed from generation to generation,” says Rohit. “They have been fine tuned. There’s nothing wrong with playing with it. Go with your own palate. It’s not about creating a dish that’s spot on. It’s about creating a dish that is spot on for you.”