How to make the perfect homemade curry
Is your curry hit and miss? Read on for our top 12 tips on making the perfect curry. From which oil to use, to how to cook your onions for an intense flavour or cut chicken for maximum tenderness. We also share simple cooking hacks and shortcuts for quicker curry making!
- Use groundnut oil or sunflower oil in your curry cooking, both of which have a high smoke point. Olive oil has a lower smoke point and therefore can spoil when using a high heat to fry spices and to brown meat. (Avoid vegetable oil where possible as it usually contains palm oil.)
- Never rush the cooking of your onions, this forms a deep base of flavour that cannot be replicated with short cuts. It usually takes at least 10 minutes as you want the onions to be translucent and just starting to brown. However, you can freeze cooked onions so batch cook onions (remember to burn a cook's candle before you start cooking) and freeze them in suitable portion sizes for your household. You can always use frozen chopped onions too. This will save you on prep time but they may need a slightly longer cooking as you need to fry off the excess moisture before they start to turn translucent. Use this extra cooking time to prepare the rest of your ingredients, for example chopping your vegetables or meat.
- Grate your ginger and mince your garlic - it's quicker than chopping for most of us. You can also use a ginger and garlic paste to speed things up - great for batch cooking as it freezes well.
- Canned Tomatoes will give a better colour to your homemade curry than fresh tomatoes but you may need to increase the souring agent so that your curry is not too 'tomatoey'. You can use yoghurt, tamarind paste, lime juice or vinegar for this purpose.
- When using lime in your curry, use it at the end of cooking as it will prevent your meat becoming tender.
- Add salt to lentil dishes once the dish is completely cooked (and ideally just before serving) as salt and acidic ingredients can make your lentils go mushy and not retain a nice, firm texture.
- Use spices not just to add heat but to give a full, rounded and fragrant flavour. You can very easily add heat at end of cooking, with fresh chillies so don't overdo it at the beginning.
- For tender chicken, cut raw chicken across the grain. You don't want long sinews in each piece, you want them to be short to ensure tenderness. Watch this video to show you how.
- For a thicker sauce, use thickening agents such as yoghurt, cream, coconut milk, ground seeds or nuts (such as almonds). Onions also act as a thickening agent, especially when they have been pureed before cooking.
- Cook your meat curry the day before, if possible, as it always takes better the following day.
- Use your slow cooker to make your favourite curry. If you are in a hurry, you can even skip the browning of the onions and just add everything raw and cook low and slow.
- Finally and most importantly, season well with salt. No matter the quality of curry powder, it won't taste good if it isn't seasoned properly. Even the best homemade curry can be sub-standard with a lack of seasoning. Use more salt in lamb and meat dishes (we suggest 2 tsps for a curry using 1kg meat), whilst be more cautious when seasoning vegetables, fish and chicken as their flavor is often more delicate.
Happy Curry Cooking!
You can make your own homemade curry powder or buy one already perfectly balanced for quick and consistent results. Have a browse at our award winning blends in our shop.