Hello… my name is Nick litten and I am a curry-a-holic.
I was talking to a colleague yesterday and he asked what I missed most about England. I didnt even need to hesitate in answering the Good old Anglo/Indian Curry (closely followed by ‘the local boozer’).
I’ve now been on this side of the pond for nearly four years and have still yet to find an Indian Restuarant that comes close to The Surrey Tandoori for their excellent Chicken Patia or my late night favourite the Diwan-E-Khas, where I would stroll every week for a post-pub noshup. My mouth is watering just remembering…..
I love to make my own little spicey dishes of random stuff. Everything ranging from my vesion of a Curried Duck to a pot of left overs with lots of chillis and spices. The Hotter the Better!
Randomly surfing looking for inspiration for this evenings meal I stumbled across this excellent little page talking about how to make a simple curry sauce which can be cooked with anything… just add chicken, pork, vegetables, seafood, etc… Yummy!:
|In the course of cooking Indian food, I’ve found that many dishes have a great number of similarities. This is a distilled version of what they have in common.
Since not every cook has every ingredient, and there’s no accounting for taste, I’ve put an asterisk (*) next to the ingredients and steps that are required. The rest can be considered optional.
* 2 tbsp vegetable oil (canola works best) 
* Heat the oil in a sauce pan, wok or pot until it gets really hot (i.e. when a drop of water hits the pan, it sizzles like crazy).
Indian food is delicious, but don’t let it intimidate you — from Rogan Josh (some cardamom) to Madras (lots of chile) to Vindaloo (vinegar and lots of chile) to Tikka Masala (lemon juice and more turmeric), most Indian dishes you’re familiar with are just nuanced variants on the above.
Footnotes Canola oil is healthy, has a fairly high smoking point and doesn’t alter the flavor of ingredients.
 Cumin seeds, especially when roasted or fried, add a nice earthy flavor to the food.
 White or yellow onions will work fine, if you have them. You add the onion first, because it has a longer cooking time than garlic, ginger and chiles and, if you added them simultaneously, you’d get undercooked onion or burnt garlic.
 Fresh garlic is best. Garlic paste is OK. Try not to use those jars of pre-chopped garlic; they have less flavor.
 Use fresh ginger, if possible. Ginger paste is all right. Powdered ginger and jarred, pre-sliced ginger are no good. That pink, Japanese-style pickled ginger couldn’t be more wrong for this dish.
 I’ve used Jalepeño, serrano, and Thai birds-eye in curries. Any kind is fine, except habañero, which is too spicy (picture your intestines catching on fire). If you’re feeling brave, you can leave the seeds and pith (the white part that holds the seeds together) in.
 Ideally, this is dry-roasted and then ground. But a jar of cumin is fine as long as it’s not too old (ideally under 6 months since you bought it).
 Same as cumin, above, but there’s no need to roast.
 Paprika doesn’t have enough flavor, even if it is, technically, a ground red pepper. I actually use a full teaspoon.
 Turmeric adds that beautiful yellow color to Indian dishes. Don’t use too much (e.g. a tablespoon) or it will give a pasty texture to the dish. It has a slight scent and flavor, but for some reason, it seems to make Indian food easier to digest. There are various reputed medicinal properties but, from what I gather, you’d have to consume turmeric quite frequently to gain any measurable benefits.
 You can use fresh tomatoes, but when you’re adding this many other ingredients and cooking thoroughly, it doesn’t make as much of a difference as it would in a salsa or pico de gallo. Diced tomatoes will make it slightly chunkier than crushed.
 A wide range of things will work here: (already-cooked) chicken, white fish, canned kidney beans, canned chick peas, canned black-eyed peas, string beans, zucchini … almost anything you have around. Experiment freely, but you’ll ideally use something that doesn’t require much cooking (sliced zucchini) or has already been cooked (chicken).
 Cilantro is a love-it-or-hate-it herb that is used to enhance the flavors of other ingredients. If you cook cilantro, it loses most of its flavor and aroma. Also, some people find it has a gross, soapy taste (it’s a genetic thing, not a matter of unfamiliarity), so it’s entirely optional.
Say goodbye to shop bought sauces and create your own!
IBM i Software Developer, Digital Dad, AS400 Anarchist, RPG Modernizer, Alpha Nerd and Passionate Eater of Cheese and Biscuits. Nick Litten Dot Com is a mixture of blog posts that can be sometimes serious, frequently playful and probably down-right pointless all in the space of a day. Enjoy your stay, feel free to comment and in the words of the most interesting man in the world: Stay thirsty my friend.
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