How many of us have come home from our favourite Indian restaurant and thought: “I wish I could cook, a curry like that?’
I’ve done it many times – and many times I’ve tried to re-create that truly authentic taste and texture of a curries from m local takeaways.
Unfortunately, I’ve never quite cracked it – until now. I’m a subscriber to Great Curry Recipes, the blog of Dan Toombs aka The Curry Guy.
He is by some distance my favourite foodie blogger. It’s his passion, his knowledge, his relentless drive to discover new things and learn new techniques. He’s awesome.
So it was a no-brainer for me to have a crack at Dan’s for British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Curry Sauce Base.
I packed the kids off to playdates, rolled up my sleeves, then got stuck in to a very pleasant afternoon of cooking up a big batch that will serve me well as bases for all kinds of curries for months to come.
Dan says on his blog: “Visit the kitchen of any busy curry house and you are almost certain to see a large saucepan of curry sauce/gravy simmering away on the stove. This sauce is used as a base for most of the restaurant’s curries. This smooth curry sauce is just one of the things that give British Indian restaurant (BIR) style curries their distinctive flavour and texture that is loved by so many.
“I like to describe the curry sauce as a fancy vegetable stock. It doesn’t have a lot of flavour though it does taste good. Add some chicken, cumin, garam masala, a large heap or two of chili powder and a few other ingredients and you’ve got yourself a fiery hot chicken vindaloo. Keep the chili powder to a minimum and add some cream, block coconut, rose water and a dusting of cardamom powder and voila… a fragrant chicken korma.”
I urge you to give it a go. Here it is…enough to make around 4 freezable batches, with each containing enough to make a curry for 4 people.
10 large cooking onions (or a mixture of white and red) – finely sliced
250ml vegetable oil or rapeseed oil (the more healthy option)
5 tbsp garlic paste
4 tbsp ginger paste
1 carrot – peeled and chopped
¼ head of cabbage – chopped
1 red pepper– diced
1 green pepper – diced
400ml chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tbsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp ground fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste (Dan says: ‘I usually leave this out and simply add it to the final dish’)
1. Pour the oil into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat over medium high heat until bubbling.
2. Throw in the sliced onions and fry, stirring regularly for about 20 minutes until the onions are soft, lightly browned and translucent.
3. Add the peppers, carrot and cabbage and stir to combine.
4. Fry for a further five minutes and then add the ginger and garlic purees and the all of the spices except for the turmeric.
5. Now add the tomatoes and just enough water (about 2 cups/ 500ml) to cover the vegetables and simmer for about half an hour.
6. After 30 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Scoop the mixture in batches into a blender and blend until silky smooth. If you have a hand held blender, this stage will be much easier.
7. Once your sauce is smooth, melt the ghee in a frying pan. Add the turmeric powder to the ghee. It will darken as it cooks. You want to brown it for about 30 seconds being careful not to burn the turmeric.
8. Now add the turmeric/ghee mixture to the sauce and bring to a simmer again. Once it is bubbling away, turn down the heat and simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes.
9. Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to three days or freeze in 750ml (3 cups) portions for up to three months.