Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to make curries ?

Many people have asked me whether "curry" is a westernized dish that does not exist in India or Asia ?. I have to say that hardly any Indian meal is complete without a curry.

There are many type of curries in India. Let me explain them in the following:

In southern India, curries are based on blend of coconut and tamarind. While in north, it is made from range of mild spices. There is no such thing as Madras curry or even Madras curry powder as the term "curry" refers to hundreds of variations.

A good curry made with vegetables or meat should be fairly thick. A thin curry will not support a blend of spices where as too thick will not moisten the accompanying rice or bread sufficiently.

Curries are colorful and use turmeric, red chili pepper, tamarind, cumin and coriander as ingredients. These spices add flavor and aroma in any preparation.

Generally, curries can have white (yogurt based), red, yellow and green color. The curries from southern India are green while from northern and central India are white, red or yellow. The oil used also varies from region to region giving each curry a unique taste and fragrance.

Peanut and coconut oil is used in many parts of southern India. Coconut is widely grown in southern Indian coastal regions. Mustard oil is used in Bengal region. Clarified butter or ghee is used over most of the country.

A good curry preparation requires time and patience. In north, a basic curry starts with heating the oil or Ghee. Seed spices (cumin, coriander, red chili pepper, mustard, fenugreek, fennel) are added to the heated oil for releasing their aromatic oils.

Onion, Garlic, Ginger and tomatoes are added in the second step for moisture.
Powdered spices are added in the third step so that they don't get burnt. Main ingredient (vegetable or lentil or meat) and salt with little water are added next to obtain the right consistency.

Controlled heat and an eye for right texture and color are equally important for delicious curry.
Thus curries are made in steps and almost like building blocks. Think of curries as toy building blocks where they can be moved around and re-arranged in countless ways.

Curry recipes can be never ending as every one has their way of preparation. You can have your own recipe for many curry preparations if you follow the basic steps mentioned above. Beware, curries are addicting and once your taste buds are exposed, it is very hard to go back !. Are you ready ?.