To all the curry lovers out there......
On a visit home to England, on a trip out to pick up a curry fix from my sisters local takeaway, I noticed a huge pot bubbling away at the back of the kitchen restaurant. I inquired, to their surprise, “is that your curry masala gravy base?”. That question and the following conversation led to an invite to return one evening during a takeaway service to learn a few tricks, ask some questions from the experts and an opportunity to make the curry of our choice. Hubby and I have been making our own curries for years and now we get to learn from the people who know!
One thing I knew they wouldn't share was their recipe for curry masala gravy. Its the curry houses equivalent of a secret sauce, its what makes their dishes unique. That my friends is one of the reasons why you love a particular curry from one restaurant and not like it from another.
Two important things we learned - (1) your curry masala gravy takes your curry to another level. (2) It really is just another mild curry. So what's the big deal? Think about a great stock and how much better that makes a soup rather than just a stock cube. Both are ok, but the one made with stock is oh so much better. The same applies to some of the curries we make, this stock/curry masala gravy is one of the keys to achieving a great restaurant tasting curry.
Meat for me please!
At home I nearly always make chicken curries. Why? because they are consistent, the meat is always tender. Beef or lamb however can be more difficult. The rare occasion we are back in England and of course in our favourite curry house, Hubbys first words are "meat for me please!" I needed to learn, enter lesson number 2 from our short masterclass.
The second thing we learned is if you order a meat curry, the meat is already prepped and precooked. Red meat is so unpredictable and a curry is soooooo disappointing if the meat is chewy. Slow cooked meat is the way to go. The curry house had huge Tupperware's of precooked fall off the bone delicious meat. Ever wondered how you can walk into a takeaway restaurant and have a beautiful rich curry gravy with tender meat served within half and hour? Its all in the prep. When you arrive and make your choice, all that's left is to stir-fry your order. .
I'm really selling this guys, I know! That's because when you first look at the steps you might cry "I'm making a curry before I make a curry!!" Lets say it might look a bit too involved and instead you find yourself reaching for the takeaway menu.... I don't want to loose you, stick with me...Its worth it...its time well spent. Get some music on and start prepping!
I'm sharing the recipe we use from Pat Chapmans wonderful book "250 favourite curries". We love this book and make no apologies for sharing his wealth of experience and wonderful recipes with all our own hints and observations. We want to get all these great recipes out there to friends and family and all those people out there who love curry night but cant find or afford a takeaway and who just love to cook. Enjoy!
One last note... large or small?
Ok, so you've seen the quantities and are thinking..that's a big recipe! I get it. For those of you who want to "try before you buy" I'm also including a small batch recipe. Use half of the masala gravy to make a curry and freeze the other half for another time. Here goes.
Get your ingredients together - large batch
- 300 milliliters / grams oil, olive (mild) ghee/veg
- 5 tablespoons garlic, crushed / puréed
- 4 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
- 1 Recipe onion puree, (see below)
- 700 grams tomatoes, can/tin including juice
- 6 tablespoons tomato puree/paste
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 1/2 tablespoons turmeric
Get your ingredients together - small batch
- 60 milliliters / grams oil, olive (mild) ghee/veg
- 1 tablespoon garlic, crushed / pureed
- 3/4 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
- onion puree made with 2 large spanish/white onions, (see below)
- 100 grams tomatoes, can/tin including juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato puree/paste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon mild curry powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Onion puree recipe
Basically we will chop and blanch. Onions can be quite bitter and a quick blanch in boiling water really improves taste.
- 10 large Spanish onions each about 225 g / 8 oz
- coarsely chop, these will be blended afterward.
- put in a pan of boiling water and remove after 3 mins and strain well.
- Mulch down in either a food processor /blender / mini chopper (If you don't have one of these chop the onions finely)
- You can weigh liquids. 60ml = 60grams. Put a container/bowl on your electric kitchen scales, cancel the weight to zero and then weigh your liquid.
- Always begin with a low heat when stir frying garlic. if it burns it will taste bitter.
- It sounds like such a lot of oil I know!!! But if its the large batch you are making, remember its for 40 individual servings of curry. ok, phew! now that doesn't sound so bad!
- All of this recipe is done on a low heat. We don't want you to burn those lovely spices. You will be stirring and frying, but all on a low heat.
- Tomatoes. We all have access to different kinds. Tinned, canned are the easiest but where I live they are unavailable so I use fresh. Just chop them up small and add a little passata, tomato juice. If your canned tomatoes are whole just chop them up or throw them in the blender to mulch them down before adding to the pan.
- I pretty much never make a one recipe batch, why do all that chopping and only make a curry to serve 4? Doubling up is always a good idea. Use your freezer right and then you really can recreate that takeaway curry night without having to cook again! I freeze my masala base in 5 double batch bags/containers.
• Mix together the curry powder, paprika and turmeric with a little water to make a paste. Do this first to let the spices absorb the water.
- In a large saucepan heat a third of the oil on low.
- Stir fry the garlic for 30 seconds then the ginger along with the garlic for another 30 seconds being careful not to burn. (see tips)
- Add another third of the oil and when hot add the spice paste and stir fry for 30 seconds more. (see tips)
- Add the remaining oil and when hot add the onion puree. Stir fry gently for around 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and the tomato puree to the pan (see tips) Mix well. Add enough water to make a medium thick soup consistency.
- Add salt and sugar.
- Simmer gently for at least 30 minutes and at most an hour. It will reduce a bit. It still needs to be easily pourable, like a thick apple sauce so if it starts to get too dry, don't worry, just add a bit more water.
- That's it! If you've made the large batch get some containers, divide into 10 portions and pop in the freezer and dream of all those future curries. Personally I like to use zip lock freezer bags. you can freeze them flat and they take up only a small space in the freezer. If you've made small batch for this time, divide into two portions - one for the freezer and the other in the fridge to get making a curry soon!
Recipes with curry masala gravy....
Of course I'm not going to walk you through this recipe and then leave you hanging! Look out for upcoming recipes....Karahi Gosht, Redang Daging (aka Indonesian meat curry) Roghan Gosht and Balti Murgh.
One of the best Indian curry books you will ever need
Have you made this curry? Let us know how you got on.
Other recipes to add to your Indian curry repertoire
- Roghan Gosht Authentic Indian Restaurant curry
Pat Chapmans book 250 favourite curries is our inspiration for this authentic aromatic meat curry. Make the curry masala gravy base first and then get into making this beautiful fragrant dish, you'll never need to visit the takeaway again!
- Naan bread recipe
Easy recipe for Indian flatbread : Naan bread. Easy to make and a perfect accompaniment to your curry.
- Curry Recipe: Handi Murgh
Make your very own Indian curry, so many go to open a jar or a box and follow instructions. Although convenient, why not make your own authentic Indian curry that is natural and not full of those mystery preservatives found in many foods today.
- Quick and Easy Mango Chutney Recipe
Homemade mango chutney is better than any shop-bought chutney and a great go-to for any Indian curry or ingredient to other recipes. Here's a simple recipe!
- Sourdough Naan Bread
Beautiful soft sourdough naan bread to mop up the sauce of your favorite curry. These breads have very few ingredients, are easy to make, and are a joy to watch as they fluff up while baking. So get your sourdough starter out and let's go!