You’ve been making curry all wrong! Experts share six steps to cooking an authentic dish – including only adding spices to hot oil and NEVER serving it with poppadoms
- Experts revealed the common mistakes made when cooking a curry at home
- Pakistan-born author Sumayya Usmani, said ingredients should be cooked slow
- Indian chef Vivek Singh, revealed spices shouldn’t be added to cold oil
Many people have been brushing up on their cooking skills since lockdown this year, but one dish many amateur chefs have still not mastered is a traditional curry.
Pakistan-born author Sumayya Usmani and Indian chef Vivek Singh spoke to FEMAIL about the six essential steps everyone must follow if they want to whip up an authentic dish.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is adding spices to cold oil, according to the experts, while others don’t leave enough time for the flavours to come through while cooking.
And, in a revelation that will shock takeaway fans, curries should not be served with poppadoms. Here, 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 not rushing to cook ingredients and ensuring oil is hot before adding spices (file image)
Vivek Singh who is CEO and Executive Chef of The Cinnamon Collection, revealed it is possible to add spices to the dish but be unable to taste them if they’re added at the wrong time.
STIR GROUND SPICES FREQUENTLY
‘When using ground spices it’s important to stir frequently and carefully so that the spices do not burn and cause the curry to acquire a burnt aftertaste,’ Mr Singh said. ‘This is a combination of frying and stirring together, called ‘Bhunnao’ in Hindi, and there isn’t an English equivalent of this technique.’
He said: ‘People add spices to cold oil – it does nothing! They need to be added to hot oil for the flavours to be released.
‘Whole spices are frequently added at the start of making any curry, commonly cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves etc. and they should always been added to oil which has first been heated up to release the aromas and make the most out of the flavours.
‘This is unlike Italian cooking where extra virgin oil is cooked with cold and a common mistake in Indian cooking.
Sumayya Usmani who is the author of Summers Under the Tamarind Tree cookbook, shared an expert tip, adding: ‘to make a curry aromatic and full of layers of spice, try and use whole spices in the base oil, flavour by heating through until aromatic, then add onions and other flavour enhancers.’
GET YOUR PREP OUT OF THE WAY – AND ADD THE INGREDIENTS SLOWLY
Sumayya said: ‘Preparing all the ingredients, getting spices out prior to cooking makes the experience much more enjoyable. South Asian food is prep heavy, so its always advisable to have everything ready to go.’
Of common mistakes people make, she said: ‘Not cooking each ingredients slowly, allowing all the spices and flavour enhancing ingredients (onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, yoghurt) to cook through, allowing the oil to rise, and flavours to infuse correctly.
‘People add everything in one go, without being patient with process – this results in a one dimensional curry, which is has a watery undercooked flavour, and the raw taste of ginger, garlic or onions (or all three!), left on the palate.’
MAKE SURE TO COOK YOUR ONIONS ENOUGH
Sumayya continued: ‘The second biggest mistake is that people often don’t cook their onions enough. Lots of people try to take a short cut and add spices before the onions are ready but there is no way back from here to save your curry.
Vivek added: ‘Onions form the base of most Indian curries with their sweet and subtle flavour, so properly cooking them is the first and most important step to ensure a curry full of flavour. If this is not done correctly, the raw taste never goes and leaves the curry unpalatable, pappy and sometimes bitter.’
DON’T BE TOO STRICT WITH THE RECIPE
Sumayya explained that the ingredients in a curry may vary depending on regional and personal preferences.
She said: ‘Personally, I don’t like cream in curries, there are other ways of adding creaminess to a curry – but that is a regional and personal preference.
‘Authenticity is subjective – one dish can be cooked many different ways in different families, part of the country or Indian sub-continent.
‘But if you were to spot a curry made by someone who knows what they are doing, I would say, its that the hero ingredient is cooked well, infused with spices, evenly, a balanced seasoning and visually looks like it was made by a labour of love.’
SELECT THE RIGHT SIDES
Speaking about what not to serve curry with, Sumayya said: ‘Poppadoms – In all my life in Pakistan, no meal was ever served or started with pickle and poppadoms.
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