The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!

More Spices

Been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately… I really must get more “Oirish” recipes on here, but I’ve been on a serious Indian buzz lately. Cooking Rick Stein/Mumrez Khan’s Lamb Karahi has taught me some great lessons about making curries. It’s taught me that if you have a good base recipe of onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes, you can create many different Indian dishes. Using the “Rick Stein” base, I’ve been reading up and experimenting with many different dishes, tweaking ingredients along the way.

I’ve come up with a “Big 8” list of curries – all the curry recipes you’ll ever need. I’ll post each of the following dishes over the next few weeks. These are all dishes which I’ve cooked many times over, all of the time making improvements here and there.

I don’t strive for complete authenticity with these recipes, but these recipes are close enough to what you might find on the sub-continent. Believe me, these recipes are vastly superior to most of the rubbish you get in Indian restaurants – pre-cooked meat swimming in oil and vast pots of “base” sauce which they ladle with abandon into nearly all of their dishes. This “base” is the reason nearly all of their dishes taste the same. Forget them – once you see how easy it is to cook delicious Indian curries at home, you’ll never visit the “Star of Bengal” again.

Here are the recipes, stay tuned over the coming weeks:

  • Tadka Dal buttery and delicately-spiced lentils with tomato, lemon and fresh coriander.
  • Chicken Korma a rich curry with dried fruits, toasted nuts and lots of fresh green chillies.
  • Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh a traditional gravy with highly aromatic spicing – cardamom, fennel and saffron.
  • South Indian Lamb Curry robustly flavoured with mustard seeds, fresh curry leaves and coconut. If you only try one of these dishes, make it this one.
  • Goan Beef Vindaloo a traditional Goan specialty – sour & fiery hot – for chilli aficionados only!
  • Vegetable Makhanwala a rich, creamy gravy flavoured with kasoori methi, similar in flavour to the Butter Chicken recipe.
  • Chicken Saag chicken cooked in a lightly-spiced spinach sauce, makes a great contrast to tomato-based curries.
  • Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) based on a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe, this is a rich and spicy sauce enriched with butter, honey and cream.

Here are some general curry-making tips you might find useful:

  • Casserole – I treat all my curries like stews or casseroles – long, slow braising in the oven. I cook all meat curries in a large, deep cast-iron casserole (Le Creuset). This means I can use one pot for frying onions and spices, then I can transfer the entire dish to a low-moderate oven (about 160°C) where it cooks slowly. Cooking in the oven gives a more even result and reduces the risk of burning or boiling over.
  • Meat – When cooking lamb curries, I nearly always use shoulder cut. I find it takes about 2½ hours cooking to achieve the texture I want – very tender, able to break a cube of meat with a spoon.
  • Masala – I prepare all masalas/ingredients in advance. These curries take very little time to prepare so it’s best to have everything ready to hand. I generally mix two masalas for each curry – one made from whole spices and one comprising ground spices. The whole spice masala requires prior frying in oil, the ground spice masalas can be added directly to the gravy.
  • Caramelised Onions – I start off each of my sauces in the same way. Fry onions. Whizz browned onions along with garlic, ginger and tomatoes. Fry whole spices before adding gravy. Add ground spices and meat along with any other flavourings.
  • Sugar – tinned tomatoes (and some fresh varieties) tend to be rather sour, so I like to sweeten the dishes slights with a little palm sugar (available from Asian food stores). Light muscovado sugar would make an acceptable substitute if palm sugar is unavailable.
  • Oil – ignore any assertions that you have to use huge quantities of oil or ghee (an Indian clarified butter). While not exactly health food, these recipes contain relatively small amounts of oil and taste great.
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8 Responses to “The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!”


  1. 1 Morris August 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

    It’s remarkable the sheer number of ways to prepare chicken. Thanks.

  2. 2 Gavin August 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Welcome back. Was beginning to think you’d disappeared into blogging limbo!


  1. 1 South Indian Lamb Curry | Toasted Special Trackback on August 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm
  2. 2 Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh | Toasted Special Trackback on August 11, 2010 at 5:01 pm
  3. 3 Tadka Dal - Recipe | Toasted Special Trackback on August 11, 2010 at 5:01 pm
  4. 4 Easy Chicken Korma | Toasted Special Trackback on August 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm
  5. 5 Vegetable Makhanwala | Toasted Special Trackback on August 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm
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