The secret to a good curry is the spices you use. A standard curry powder is a good (if somewhat unoriginal) start. This entry offers just a few words on curries...
A Fusion of Spices
When I cook an Indian curry, I usually use a mixture of medium curry powder, paprika, chilli powder, tumeric, crushed coriander seeds, crushed cumin seeds, ground black pepper, cardamom pods, kaffir lime leaves, lemon juice and rind, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, fresh chillis, and a madras curry paste.
It's an infinitely variable mixture - you can obviously adjust the heat by adding more/less chilli. Add more cardamom and paprika for a 'fruitier' flavour (tending towards a Rogan Josh), or more cumin and coriander for something approaching a Madras. To release the full flavour of the spices, you need to fry them. This can either be fried with oil or dry fried without oil - especially good for the unground spices before you pound them to powder.
Chop a medium onion and three or four cloves of garlic. Gently fry in oil until soft. Add your spice mixture, and continue to fry for a couple of minutes. You will probably need to add more oil. Add the chopped/diced chicken, and allow to brown on all sides. Add a little water/stock as required, and stir until the spices are well mixed. You can add whatever veg you like - potato, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, okra (if you use root veg (potato/carrot) they will need longer to cook. Okra only needs a couple of minutes at the most - any longer, and it just turns mushy). You may need to thicken the sauce - arrowroot or cornflour works well.
Just before serving, stir in a handful of chopped coriander leaves. If you can't get fresh coriander, you can get jars of it which are almost as good. Serve on a bed of rice, with naan bread if desired.
Thai curry uses a completely different blend of spices. Traditionally, there are two types of Thai curry - red and green. The colours vary with the herbs/spices that go into them. This recipe is something of a generic Thai curry - all the flavours are there, but it's not really green or red...
The basis is again the spice mix. There are many Thai curry pastes available, or you can make your own.
- Coriander seeds (ground)
- Cumin seeds (ground)
- Fresh galangal (or ginger) (finely diced)
- Fresh chillis
- Kaffir lime leaves (finely ground)
- Coriander leaves
- Shrimp paste
To make the curry, fry some chopped chicken, allowing it to brown lightly on all sides. Add in the paste mixture, and fry for a further two minutes, stirring well. Add a tin of coconut milk (or the equivalent from a block of creamed coconut) and simmer for five minutes. Throw in a handful of cashew nuts (which you can also roast gently beforehand if you prefer), and a handful of fresh green/stick beans. Cook for a further two minutes, and thicken the sauce if necessary. Serve on a bed of rice.