In this blog I am going to talk about the basics of cooking an Indian curry. You see Indian cooking varies depending on the region. In fact, the cuisine varies from state to state. Typically, Northern India consume a lot of wheat and drink tea, whereas Southern India consume rice and drink coffee. Whilst it is not always great to generalise, but you will get the idea.
To create an amazing Indian curry, you just need the following as base ingredients: red onion, fresh chilli, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander seeds and coriander leaves. You might wonder why red onion and not white or brown onions. Any onion is fine, but red onions or shallots provide additional depth in flavour especially when it is caramelised.
By keeping the amount of spices minimal, you can use the flavour of your veggies rather than smother it with spices. You can always add more spices, but I believe if we can get more flavour in your food by keeping it simple. I might be going against the trend a bit here i.e. using less spices compared to so many cooking shows, but this is how my family have cooked for generations.
- Always dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds to release its natural oils. Don’t roast them more than a min or two as they get burnt.
- Try using a mortar and pestle to grind them and don’t grind them fine as coriander seeds will lose its flavour. You can use a food processor or blender to grind the spices, but by doing so, you might grind it too fine. Because both coriander and cumin contain volatile oils, by grinding them into a powder, you will lose its flavour over time. It is best to grind them using a mortar and pestle and keep it bit chunky to release its flavour.
- Finely grate the ginger as it releases fresh flavour. Always keep aside a small portion of grated ginger that you can add it to the dish just before turning the stove.
- Add onion to a pan with some oil, stir for couple of mins before adding chilli, ginger and garlic. Stir for another couple of mins. If you want a caramelised onion flavour, cook for another 3 min or so before adding chilli, ginger and garlic.
- Add turmeric, ground cumin and coriander powder and salt. Stir in for another couple of mins. Always add turmeric at the beginning of the cooking process rather than the end to minimise the strong after taste.
- Add your choice of veggies. Now, if you are planning to use tomatoes, then make sure you cook the tomatoes first before adding any veggies. The acidity in the tomatoes will slow the cooking process for veggies.
- Once the curry is cooked, add the finely chopped coriander leaves and the remainder grated ginger to release fresh flavour.
Now, this is the base for most Indian curries. Obviously, it will vary depending on what curry you are cooking. Go ahead and give it a go and let us know how you went.