Most people are scared of attempting to cook a curry from scratch. The common misconception is that it is easier to reach for a ready made curry sauce from the supermarket in the belief that you will save yourself the hassle and worry about what spices you need, what order to use them and in what quantities and what dishes need which ones! Forget ready made sauces, they are generally full of oil, salt and preservatives and taste terrible when compared to traditional home made Indian food.
The real secret to making a good curry
In order to make your curry making much easier and more intuitive the best plan is to do what the Indians do and use a Masala dabba or ‘spice box’. Rather than fiddling around with those little jars of spices that tend to sit unused in your cupboard you simply pop the lid off and you have everything you need to make a good curry set out in front of you. Here are some spices you may find in the typical masala dabba:
- Chilli Powder
- Ground Cumin
- Mustard Seeds
- Cumin Seeds
- Coriander Seeds
- Garam Masala
When you have everything there in front of you it is amazing how easy it is to make a great dish as many curry dished start off with a similar base.
The following is a great base that can be used as a start to many Indian dishes:
1. Add one teaspoon of mustard and/or cumin seeds to some hot oil
2. When the seeds start popping add some finely chopped onions (for some recipes add garlic/ginger here)
3. Fry off the onions slowly until they go a nice golden brown colour
4. Add one teaspoon of turmeric
5. Add one teaspoon of garam masala
6. Add one teaspoon of ground cumin
7. Add half a teaspoon of chilli powder
Gently fry off the onions and spices for a couple more minutes and you have a great base for many currys. From here you can simply add some cooked meat, fresh chillies, vegetables or tinned coconut then some chopped tomatoes (fresh or tinned), and/or a tin of coconut milk to form your gravy. The options really are limitless.
The beauty of this method really lies with the masala dabba. You simply chop and fry your onions, pop open the dabba, add your spices and away you go!
Want one? You can pick them up very cheaply on Amazon.