Top 10 Indian curry tips from the founder of the up-market London curry house / restaurant which catered to Anglo-Indians, fashionable Londoners, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, and royalty such as the Prince of Wales and the Prince of Denmark.
E.P. Veerasawmy believed ‘that it is within the capabilities of every cook to make perfect curries’.
He emphasied the importance of using a good quality curry powder. ‘Every ingredient in a genuine Indian curry powder, is identical to that which is ground on the curry stone every day in Indian households. A really good curry powder that will keep for years, and always produce a perfect curry, is made up of many different seeds, roots and spices, well chosen, well-proportioned and well blended, neither too hot or pungent, or too vapid and unattractive.
Curry acts on the digestive system with the very best results, for many of its ingredients are carminative in action, as well as being aromatic and appetising.’
Important points to remember when making an Indian curry:
- Any kind of fat may be used instead of ghee, such as butter, lard, dripping, margarine or any edible oil, dependent of course on any diet or religious restrictions regarding fat used.
- Garlic – If this is objectionable, either reduce quantity or dispense with it altogether.
- Onions – the finer the onions are chopped the better, and in many cases spring onions are preferable.
- The onions and garlic should never be allowed to brown, as they will spoil both the appearance and flavour of the curry.
- Acidity – limes and tamarinds are generally used, but lemon juice and vinegar are also fine.
- After adding the curry powder or curry ingredients to the onions and garlic, before adding anything else, Fry lightly for three or four minutes on a very low heat to cook off the peculiar raw flavour of the curry powder or curry ingredients.
This is known as ‘Bhoon’, and is the most important step in the art of curry making. If an inferior curry powder which has been bulked out with rice flour, you will find that it will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn at this point. Curries should always be cooked slowly to extract all the richness and flavour of the curry seeds, and they should never be skimmed.
- Either fresh or sour cow’s milk can be used for many curries in place of coconut milk.
- Never thicken curry with flour. If the sauce is too thin, the addition of milk or coconut milk or desiccated coconut, or reducing the sauce with the lid of the pan off, will give you the desired result.
- Apples, sultanas or almonds are never used in Indian curries, with the exception of almonds, where they are used in Pilaus and Biryanis.
- There is no need for any fancy utensils or fuel source other than ordinary saucepans on gas, electric or any other heat source where the heat can be regulated. The most fabulous curries are produced in Deckshas and Chatties on the Chulas (earthen fireplaces) of India.