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Old 02-21-2009, 09:00 PM   #1
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How should I spice up my curry?

About a year ago I bought a box of curry mix on a whim and tried it out and I fell in love with it. Iím experimenting with making it from scratch now and I think Iíve got the authentic curry taste down, but itís just not hot enough for me. Iím not an expert on spices so Iím not sure if I should be using chili powder, paprika or cayenne. Iím not really sure if these are authentic spices used in curry though. All of the recipes Iíve read just say ďhot curry powder.Ē


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Old 02-21-2009, 09:19 PM   #2
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Proper curries are made from individual ground spices, (and sometimes whole ones like cardamom) rather than a storebought curry powder. The spice mixture that is fried off at the beginning of a curry is called a ' masala'.
Giood on you for wanting to explore curries further than a premix.
Go take a look at videojug or youtube and type 'curry' into the search box. There will be 100's of videos to take a look at Im sure. And google is you friend so maybe start by searching for an ' easy curry recipe' and see where that takes you. I am a huge fan of Anjum Anands recipes right now and she does have some videos on the net also.

I have 2 especially bought tins from India at home, that house my whole and ground spices. They are so much better than bought packets that spill everywhere and allow air into the contents. These tins contain 7 small stainless pots with tiny spoons in each. I recommend them!!

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

ETA: Chilli powder is what you need, cayenne and paprika are not authentic.

In the book of life, the answers are NOT in the back.
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Old 02-21-2009, 09:50 PM   #3
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You might want to pick up a good Indian cookbook. Anything by Madhur Jaffrey would be a good choice.

In the meantime, here's a good one that combines typical Indian spices with something westerners love -- meatballs!

Meatball Curry

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground lamb (or beef)
Ĺ medium onion, finely chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1ľ teaspoons ground cumin
Ĺ teaspoon cayenne pepper
ĺ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the sauce:
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fresh hot green chilies
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons water
ľ cup olive oil
6 green cardamom pods, 4 whole, 2 crushed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cloves, whole
2-inch stick cinnamon
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
Ĺ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 cups water
ĺ teaspoon salt

Combine all meatball ingredients, then, with your damp hands, form mixture into 24 balls. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or freeze for 45 minutes.

Mix ginger, garlic, chilies, coriander, and ground cumin, along with 3 tablespoons water, in a blender until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large sautť pan. When hot (but not smoking), add cardamom, cumin seeds, cloves, and cinnamon. Stir once.

Add onions, and fry, stirring, for about 8 minutes, until onions are brown.

Add ginger paste, lower heat, and stir for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cayenne, and cook over medium-high heat until tomatoes are reduced to a thick, dark paste.

Lower heat to medium; stir in yogurt, a tablespoon at a time. When all yogurt has been blended in, mix in water and salt.

Add meatballs in a single layer, and bring to a simmer.

Cover and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. (Don’t stir with a spoon.)

Serve with rice or bread.
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Old 02-21-2009, 11:44 PM   #4
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Paprika or chili powder aren't going to add much heat. Cayenne is a good bet as far as powdered spice goes. Whole peppers would be better still. I usually use jalapeno or serrano peppers and sometimes Thai birds eye peppers.
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Old 04-04-2009, 05:04 AM   #5
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Here are a couple of tips to get your curries jet-fueled up if you love it hot:

1. Use dried chillies (if you can get this from your grocery store), about 5 whole dried chillies and just dry pan fry on low heat for about 5 mins. You will begin to smell the aroma of the chilly. Remove from pan, cut up into about 1 inch pieces and use a mortar and pestle or food processor to chop up the chillies into a fine powder. Add to the curry powder mixture.
Note : If you can get hold of these dried chillies from your grocery store (try Asian specialty stores as well), look for the flat, smooth ones which are hotter than the crinkly ones. You can use more chillies to pan fry and make into a powder, then store the powder in a jar to use as and when you need to.

2. If you can't get dried chillies, use fresh red chillies (two to three) and split it down the middle. Add to the curry as it is cooking over the fire. Remove the chillies from the curry before serving.
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:12 AM   #6
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In general, I agree about using whole dried chilis. As you become more advanced, you may want to start experimenting with combinations of different fresh, dried, and ground chilis. All have slightly different flavors as well as varying degrees of hotness and will impart subtile differences to the flavor of your curries.

Here's a good link to info about asian chilis to get you started: Happy News
"Iím going to break one of the rules of the trade here. Iím going to tell you some of the secrets of improvisation. Just remember ó itís always a good idea to follow the directions exactly the first time you try a recipe. But from then on, youíre on your own." - James Beard
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:30 AM   #7
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I would check out the cambodian and thai groceries in the area. The ones that I deal with here in Richmond are generally willing to help once they figure out that you are serious about their cuisine, and will lead you in the right direction.

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