It’s a meal that’s become a firm favourite for Brits over the past two decades – and yet we still consistently make curries wrong, according to one chef.
With National Curry week underway, FEMAIL unveils the common culinary mistakes you’re probably making when rustling up your most-loved sauce.
From using curry powder and dried spices, to choosing meat off the bone, these are just some of the surprising mishaps Brits are making when cooking the takeaway staple.
Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, Jeff Baker, Executive Development Chef at online butchers Farmison & Co, reveals how to ensure the best taste from your favourite homemade curries.
Jeff Baker, Executive Development Chef at online butchers Farmison & Co, reveals how to ensure the best taste from your favourite homemade curries
AVOID CURRY POWDER
‘Curry powder is a product that has derived from UK tastes and is not part of traditional curry making,’ explained Jeff, who was recognised for his culinary talents in 1995 with a Michelin Star at Pool Court, Leeds.
‘Garam masala, on the other hand, is authentic and widely used in the Indian subcontinent.’
‘Curry powder is regularly confused with garam masala and people often use it in dishes thinking it’ll achieve the same authentic taste.
‘However, although both spice mixes can sometimes contain some of the same ingredients, the flavour profiles are noticeably different.’
JEFF’S TOP TIPS
1. Avoid curry powder
2. Use meat on the bone
3. Use fresh spices
4. Seal in the meat
5. Be adventurous
He added: ‘One shouldn’t be substituted for the other as curry powder is milder, and often fails to seal in the flavour of a dish.
‘Whereas garam masala is used at the end of cooking to ensure it adds to the taste and is sweeter, consisting of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.’
USE MEAT ON THE BONE
‘It’s important to consider both the meat and the cut when making curry,’ advised the chef, who has previously cooked for the Queen.
‘Where possible, curries are always best slow-cooked and therefore opting for a less tender cut or meat on the bone will give your curry more flavour and depth.
‘If you’re using a filleted meat, using a good quality stock will help to compensate for the flavour from the bones.
‘Curry powder (pictured) is a product that has derived from UK tastes and is not part of traditional curry making,’ explained Jeff, who was recognised for his culinary talents in 1995 with a Michelin Star at Pool Court, Leeds
‘Chicken, lamb and beef are the most common meats used in curries but duck is a great choice that is often overlooked. Duck breast brings a rich, powerful flavour that works really well in Thai curries.’
USE FRESH SPICES
‘Spices are the foundation of all good curries and using fresh, whole spices wherever possible will ensure your curry bursts with flavour,’ the Farmison & Co chef claims.
‘Always cook your spices over hot oil, unleashing the powerful aromas which you can then build your complimenting ingredients on top of.
‘Add garam masala and other ground spices towards the end of the cooking, as opposed to right at the start. If you add them in too early, the spices will be muted and will cook out too much, leaving your curry tasting quite dull.
THE LITTLE TIPS THAT WILL MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
TAKE YOUR TIME
‘A great curry takes patience. Preparing and searing your meat, selecting the right, fresh spices and cooking out your onions until they are caramelised is the secret to creating a well balanced, powerful flavour,’ says Jeff
TEMPER YOUR SPICES
‘To temper your spices means to heat them up in oil to bring out their flavours, before starting off your curry,’ explained the chef.
‘It’s a simple, quick step that reaps rewards when it comes to enhancing your dish and intensifying the flavours from the spices. Once you start doing this, you’ll really notice the difference, and it’ll just become part of the curry cooking process.’
DON’T FORGET TO SEASON
‘Season as you go along, being careful not to add too much salt,’ warns Jeff.
‘A curry that has been over-salted is difficult to recover, and will ruin the entire dish by overpowering any spices.
‘Salt should be used purely to enhance the flavours of the spices, rather than being able to taste the seasoning itself.
‘You may not have considered it before, but lemon juice and sugar are also great for seasoning curries and balancing out any big, bold flavours and acidities.
‘If a curry is lacking acidity, add in a squeeze of lemon – if there’s too much, try a pinch of sugar.’
‘Adding them in at the end of cooking guarantees an aromatic, flavoursome curry.
‘It’s a great tip that is used in traditional Indian cooking, it can really make all the difference when it comes to taking your curry to the next level.’
SEAL IN THE MEAT
‘One of the biggest mistakes made when cooking meat is not preparing and sealing it properly to keep in all of that incredible flavour,’ Jeff explained.
‘When making curry, you should score the meat and gently rub in your spices for a good five to eight minutes.
‘Make sure you use your hands for this as the heat from them will help to wake up the spices and absorb them into the meat.
‘Sealing and browning your meat is vital to create a robust base of flavours for your curry, so ensure you do this separately and in batches if you’re cooking in larger quantities as to not overcrowd the pan.’
‘The great thing about curries is that it is entirely personal preference and you can play around with a combination and amount of spices that you enjoy,’ the chef enthused.
‘Similarly, with your added ingredients and meat, people often stick to the classic options and are missing out on all of the rich, powerful flavours that compliment curry sauces so well.’
The expert also suggested that curry-lovers should experiment with their garnishes.
He added: ‘Garnishes are much more than a nifty way to make your curry look prettier. Making your curry look fancier is fun, but garnishes can also add texture and extra deliciousness to your dish.
‘Try out different garnishes such as flaked almonds, poppy seeds, fried onions or fresh pomegranate jewels to really spruce up your curry.
‘A curry without a garnish can often lack texture, and colour – so it’s a fun way to experiment with different variations and toppings to find ones that complement your dish the most.’
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