8 Mistakes you probably make when cooking curry
Even though you might have been making curries for years, you might be getting a few things wrong...
Curry is one of the most satisfying and comforting dishes out there, so it’s no wonder so many of us cook it on a regular basis. However, even the most experienced of us can make common mistakes when preparing this dish. Here, the folks at DabbaDrop tell us about some of the most frequent errors we make when cooking curry.
Using ground spices
There’s nothing more pleasing than preparing your spice cabinet in order to cook up a batch of beautiful, wholesome curries. Instead of buying pre-ground spices like cumin, coriander and chilli, why not bulk buy whole spices, toast them off in small batches and then grind yourself?
Store in airtight containers or a masala dabba (spice box). Not only will your house smell glorious, your curries will taste fresh and vibrant and you won’t be left with half-used plastic packets in your cupboard. Store unused whole spices in the freezer until ready for the next batch.
Not being generous with your spices
Spices bring flavour and texture to your dishes, so be bold with them. Spices don’t mean your dish needs to be hot, but just well balanced and flavourful. Taste a spice before you use it and understand the flavour notes it will bring to your dish, for example cumin is savoury, coriander is sweet, turmeric is earthy. You want to make your dishes a combination of three or four flavour notes so you can achieve the perfect balance.
Not cooking-off your spices
Sometimes spices are not cooked-off before other ingredients are added to the pan. Other times they’re added to a sauce which doesn’t allow the spices to cook. The best time to add spices is once the onion and garlic and any aromatics, such as fresh ginger and chilli, have been cooked.
An example of this is black mustard seeds; they need to be “popped” in hot oil before other ingredients are added, otherwise they may add a bitterness to the dish. Once your spices are added to the pan, combine and cook-off on a medium heat for a minute or so to create a curry paste. Any liquids can then be added.
Adding too much chilli
A curry doesn’t always have to be spicy—keep it mild and fresh by making a yellow curry with coconut milk. Deciding on the base of your curry, ie, whether you want to make it with tomatoes, yogurt, coconut milk, spinach or onions, will help you decide whether it feels right to make it spicy or not. Tomatoes lend themselves to chillies well, whereas onions and coconut are sweeter so suit a milder curry. Understand your base and you will be the curry master!
Not adding a temper
A temper or tadka is an Indian cooking method, where you infuse a neutral oil with spices and aromatics and season your finished dish by pouring the oil over it. It adds that extra oomph of flavour and works for dals, curries and raita.
Going to the trouble of making a beautiful curry and not seasoning it is sacrilege! Salt (and sometimes pepper in certain Indian dishes) will enhance the beautiful spices and fresh produce in the curry. Just like chilli, add a little at a time and taste as you go to achieve a perfectly seasoned curry.
Garnish for flavour as well as presentation
Here at DabbaDrop we’re big fans of garnishing. We use fresh herbs, pomegranate seeds, pickled onions, toasted coconut, nuts, seeds, fresh chilli (seeds removed), curry leaves, spring onions; the possibilities are endless. Not only do these garnishes elevate a dish making it look restaurant-quality, but they add a final layer of fresh flavour and texture.
Not serving with complimentary dishes
You’ve made a delicious curry. Now, what are you going to serve it with? Rice… sure, but which kind? Heighten your curry eating experience by serving it with an authentic rice from the area where the curry originates, or perhaps forgo the rice altogether and get your hands on some fresh handmade roti or paratha, poppadoms and a side of cooling raita. Breads act as an excellent mop for the curry.
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