Lots of people have brushed up on their cooking skills since the lockdown this year, but one dish many home cooks haven’t mastered is a traditional curry.
Pakistani-born author Sumayya Usmani and Indian chef Vivek Singh spoke to FEMAIL about the six essential steps that everyone must follow if they want to conjure up an authentic dish.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is adding spices to cold oil while others don’t allow enough time for the flavors to come through while cooking, according to experts.
And in a revelation that will shock take away fans, curries shouldn’t be served with papadams. Here are the six tips you need to know …
ADD WHOLE SPICES TO HOT OIL
Food experts shared their top tips for perfecting a traditional Asian curry at home, including rushing to cook ingredients and making sure the oil is hot before adding seasoning (file image)
Vivek Singh, CEO and Executive Chef of the Cinnamon Collection, announced that it is possible to add spices to the dish but will not be able to taste them if added at the wrong time.
Stir the spices frequently
“When using ground spices, it’s important to stir frequently and carefully so that the spices don’t burn and the curry gets a burnt aftertaste,” said Singh. “This is a combination of frying and stirring, called ‘Bhunnao’ in Hindi, and there is no English equivalent of the technique.”
He said, “People give cold oil spices – it doesn’t matter! They need to be added to hot oil for the flavors to be released.
“At the beginning of the process of making curry, usually cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves, etc., whole spices are often added. They should always be added to oil that has been heated first to release the flavors and make the most of the flavors.
“This is different from Italian cuisine, where extra virgin oil is cooked extra cold and is a common mistake in Indian cuisine.
Share an expert tip, Sumayya Usmani, the author of Summers Under the Tamarind Tree Cookbook, added, “To make a curry flavorful and full of layers of spice, try using whole spices in the base oil. Flavor by heating until aromatic, then add onions and other flavor enhancers. ‘
Get your supplement out of the way – and slowly add the ingredients
Sumayya said, “Preparing all the ingredients and pulling out the spices before cooking makes the experience much more enjoyable. South Asian food is difficult to prepare so it is always a good idea to have everything ready. ‘
Speaking of common mistakes people make, she said: “Don’t cook all the ingredients slowly so that all the spices and flavor enhancing ingredients (onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, yoghurt) cook through, the oil can rise and the flavors can properly infuse.
“People add it all at once without being patient with the process – this results in a one-dimensional curry that has a watery, uncooked taste and the raw taste of ginger, garlic, or onions (or all three!) The on the rest is left with the palate. ‘
Make sure you cook your onions enough
Sumayya continued, “The second biggest mistake is that people often don’t cook their onions enough. A lot of people try to take a shortcut and add seasoning before the onions are done, but there is no going back to yours from here To save curry.
Vivek added, “Onions are the basis of most Indian curries with their sweet and subtle taste. Therefore, proper cooking is the first and most important step in ensuring a curry full of flavor. If this isn’t done right, the raw taste never goes, leaving the curry inedible, sticky, and sometimes bitter. ‘
Don’t be too strict with the recipe
Sumayya explained that the ingredients in a curry can vary depending on regional and personal preferences.
She said: “I personally don’t like cream in curries, there are other ways to add creaminess to a curry – but that’s a regional and personal preference.
“Authenticity is subjective – a dish can be prepared in many different ways in different families, parts of the country or in the Indian subcontinent.
“But if you were to discover a curry made by someone who knows what they’re doing, I would say that the hero ingredient looks well cooked, spiced, evenly, well-balanced, and looks like it’s from a made labor of love. ‘
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIDES
Sumayya talked about what not to serve curry with: “Poppadoms – In my entire life in Pakistan, a meal has never been served or started with cucumber and poppadoms.