I remember the best curry (not from the indian) I have ever eaten, was about 5 years ago at a friends house. It was a whole lamb leg in a jalfrezi sauce. To my astonishment the curry paste was homemade and there was nothing jarred or pre packaged involved in the recipe. I was immediately converted and honestly, can probably count on one hand the amount of times I have cheated with a jar of curry sauce.
This next piece of information is really important:
Curry sauce from the chippy does NOT count as cheating.
I had to put that out there, because anyone who knows me knows that I don’t eat chip shop chips without it, but it’s in a different league, in the same way as no one makes their own ketchup.
Obviously, everyone knows that the basis of a good curry is the spice, otherwise it’s not really curry, it’s just stew. The important thing for me to get that real authentic British curry flavour is toasting off the spices, so always use seeds, please. Trust me, it’s the way forward. I have this little tiny frying pan and it’s really nifty for toasting small quantities of spice. And of course, the good old pestle and mortar is essential. Can you use an electric whizzer? Well yeah, it does the same job, but you don’t get the workout for your bingo wings and you don’t get the satisfaction of grinding it down to powder. Plus it smells lush when you do it by hand.
Here is the list of ingredients for a good jalfrezi paste:
- a thumb sized piece of ginger
- 1 green chilli
- 1 tsp turmeric
- half a tsp salt
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- a small bunch of coriander finely chopped
Spices for toasting:
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
Chop your chilli and ginger as small as you can, if you like it hot leave the chilli seeds in, if not leave them out but for goodness sakes DO NOT rub your eyes (or any other sensitive body part) after chopping your chilli. Seems obvious but if only you knew how many times I have done it and I use chillis on a very regular basis. Toast off your spices until they start to pop and your kitchen smells like the Balti house (one for the locals!) Then grind them, grind them good…when you have a powdery mix add all of the other ingredients except for the tomato puree and coriander. Keep at it with the pestle and mortar, it might take a few minutes but keep pounding until you have a smooth paste. Add in your tomato puree and finely chopped coriander and mix it up. Give it a sniff…feel proud of yourself, because you have just become a cool kid my friend and made yourself a curry paste!
Add it to whatever meat you are using, I highly recommend lamb, it’s delish, and these instructions assume you are using lamb too but you can use whatever you fancy. You may want to stir in a little water to your paste so that it coats your meat nicely. That’s ok. Pop a lid on your dish and put it in the oven. Slow and low is the best way for this recipe, so my oven was on 120oC and it was in for about 3 hours. I was using stewing lamb which had a fair few bones in it so I cooked it off until the meat fell off the bones. I removed the bones and added a can of tomatoes, a little lamb stock (about 200ml) and a can of chickpeas, put it back in the oven with the lid off and cook for another 45 minutes or so. You want the liquid to reduce a little, so you have sauce but not a flood on your plate!
Serve up your curry with some fluffy rice (I have a good recipe for simple fragrant rice that I will post if folk would like it) a simple salsa of chopped cucumber and tomato, for a little freshness on the plate, and if you are so inclined, make a batch of onion bhaji’s. Again, I have a recipe but it is a slimming world recipe so not sure if it’s allowed here…hook me up if you want it.
Most importantly, enjoy! Don’t feel intimidated by the whole “toast your own spices” thing, it doesn’t take long and will really take your dish from standard to spectacular.