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4 Secrets for The Ultimate Indian Restaurant Style Curry

by Alex Simpson
by Alex Simpson

Fewer things in life are better than a delicious Indian restaurant curry. With mouth-watering dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Bombay Aloo, Lamb Korma, Tarka Daal, Onion Bhaji, and many more besides, it’s easy to see why Indian food is so insanely popular in the West as well as the East.

While Indian restaurant style curries are not considered authentically Indian, they are equally as delicious none the less. But what can you do when you’re craving a curry, but wish to whip one up at home?

Well, you can follow these secrets for the ultimate Indian restaurant style curry in the comfort of your own kitchen. Here are 4 secrets for the ultimate Indian restaurant style curry.

It all Starts with a Curry Base

Want to know the secret to an awesome Indian restaurant curry? It’s all in the base. Virtually every restaurant you order your curries from will have a large pot of delicious golden curry base simmering away just waiting to be added to your curry. It is primarily a lightly spiced onion stock which typically consists of heaps of sliced onions, garlic and ginger paste, a few chopped carrots, bell peppers, tomato puree, oil, and mixed spices.

The ingredients all simmer in a pot with water and oil until they melt down and soften. The mixture is then blended to a smooth liquid and is returned to the heat, where it is used to make curries, instead of boring old water. Each restaurant has its own unique curry base recipe, so experiment with different recipes and see which works best for you.

by Alex Simpson
by Alex Simpson

Temper Whole Spices

Before you begin frying off your onions and start making your curry, the first thing you should do is temper whole spices in hot oil.

Tempering spices such as cinnamon, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, cardamom, coriander seeds etc, in hot vegetable oil, mustard oil, or ghee, will gently infuse the oil with a lightly aromatic flavour which adds an extra dimension to your curry. If the recipe calls for the whole spices, leave them in – making sure not to burn them, or remove them once the oil has infused and taken on the flavour of the whole spices.

by Alex Simpson
by Alex Simpson

Add a Splash of Curry Base to Your Powdered Spices

When the time comes for you to add powdered spices to your curry recipe, don’t make the mistake of burning them like a lot of people do. Throwing powdered spices into a hot pan with virtually no liquid will quickly cause them to scorch and burn, giving them a very bitter taste that ruins your curry.

The solution is to add the spices, give them a gentle stir for 10 seconds or so, and to then add a splash or curry base, or water, to prevent them from burning. This allows them to release their natural oils and flavour, without giving off a bitter taste because they have burnt.

by Alex Simpson
by Alex Simpson

Pre-cook Your Lamb

When it comes to Indian food, you simply can’t get much better than a delicious lamb Korma, or a lamb anything for that matter.

Ever noticed how the lamb you get in Indian restaurants is so deliciously moist and tender that it melts in the mouth? But how can it be that a Lamb curry ordered less than 20 minutes ago in some cases, comes out so tender that you could swear the meat had been cooked low and slow for hours?

The reason is that it has! Before starting service, the chefs will cook off huge batches of diced lamb with onions, oil, garlic, ginger, whole spices, powdered spices, tomato puree, and water. The lamb will gently simmer in the liquid for several hours, until it becomes soft and tender. Next it is removed, set aside to cool, refrigerated, and added to curries where it will heat through for around 6 – 8 minutes. When you fancy a curry in a hurry, cook off a batch of lamb, portion it up, refrigerate and use in the next curry you make. The lamb can also be frozen for three months, though it must be fully defrosted before you use it in your curry.