Tuesday, March 11

Indian Curries Take 2

For the letter I in my ABC Adventure I have got to ramble on about my favourite food - and that is Indian curries. We have an excellent restaurant in Guisborough which we have used for nearly 25 years, needless to say we are well known there both for takeaways and restaurant meals.

I enjoy cooking curries for friends and family when we have occasions to celebrate or just a supper event as they can be prepared in advance allowing more time to spend around the table chatting.

I have recently bought an electric spice grinder so as I await its delivery I have looked up some of our favourite curries and found a healthy version of the recipe. The family are coming round for Mother's Day on 30th March so I am going to prepare a selection in advance for the freezer, so on the day itself I will be able to spend time round the table and leave the curries in the heated trolley - a godsend on such an occasion!

Balti is more a style of cooking than one particular curry. The word balti can be translated as "bucket" (i.e. a cooking pan) and some say the style of cooking is indigenous to an area of northern Pakistan known as Baltistan. A balti pan is basically a karahi which has the shape of a Chinese wok but with 2 small round handles on either side of the pan instead of one long handle. In specialist "Balti Houses" the balti is a meal in itself which contains both meat and vegetables and is eaten straight from the karahi using curled up pieces of nan bread. In standard Indian restaurants the balti is more of a stir-fried curry containing plenty of fried green peppers and fresh coriander Medium hot.


Serves: 4

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
l1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
14 ouncetin of chopped tomatoes,
1 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
3bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom powder
lemon, zest of 1/2 lemon, juice of 1

Healthy Chicken Balti

1 Measure out the 8 spices into a bowl (first 8 ingredients). Warm up a large skillet or pot (ideally cast iron) and bring to med-high heat. Gently roast the spices in the dry skillet -- watching the mixture doesn't burn, keep stirring. After about a minute it will become fragrant and begin to get dark - take it off the heat and pour back into the bowl - set aside.

2 Put the skillet back on the heat, add frylight and bring back to medium high heat. Add in the chopped onion and cook through until translucent. Once the onion is cooked, add in the ginger and garlic and mix well - watching the garlic doesn't burn. Next add the spice mixture back in, followed by the tinned tomatoes.

3 Mix in about 1 cup of water - you want a thick sauce, but not too paste-like. Add in the salt, bay leaves and cardamom seeds.

4 Grate the zest off of the lemon, add to the pot, along with the juice from 1/2 of the lemon. Save the other half for later, you may want to add more. Let it all simmer on medium-low.

5 For a nice smooth sauce, remove the bay leaves and blend until smooth (an immersion blender works well).

Bhuna is first and foremost a cooking process where spices are gently fried in plenty of oil to bring out their flavour. The dish "bhuna" is an extension of that process where meat is added to the spices and then cooked in its own juices which results in deep strong flavours but very little sauce. The restaurant bhuna is a well spiced curry with a thick sauce. It is often garnished with fried green peppers (equivalent word in American English bell peppers) and shredded onions. Usually medium hot .

2 large onions, sliced
600ml chicken stock 
 2 tsp turmeric
3 cardamom pods
1 x 2.5cm piece cinnamon stick
4 black peppercorns
4 cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp peeled and grated root ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp mild chilli powder
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, sliced
  275ml fat free natural yogurt, bought to room temperature
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves, to garnish

Put the onion and 425ml of the chicken stock in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Cover the pan, bring to the boil and then boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, uncover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes, until the onion is tender, golden and syrupy.

Add all the spices and garlic to the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then add the chicken and cook for a few minutes to coat in the spices, then stir in the remaining chicken stock.

Cover the pan and simmer very gently over a medium heat for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Transfer the curry to a large serving bowl. Add 4 tbsp of the cooking sauce to the yogurt and stir well. Gradually add the yogurt into the curry, stirring continuously. Season to taste with salt, and serve immediately with boiled rice

Biryani is not a curry at all but the curry connection comes from the mixed vegetable curry with which it is served in most Indian restaurants.

Biryani originated in Persia and, at its simplest, was rice and meat baked together in the oven. The cooks to the Moghul emperors took the biryani and transformed it into a courtly delicacy by adding aromatic spices and other exotic ingredients. Traditionally, biryanis are baked in the oven for some time so the aromatic spices and juices from the meat permeate the rice. In the Indian restaurant, however, all the dishes are made to order and the poor chef has to find a way of preparing the biryani in double quick time. So the restaurant biryani is often just pilau rice stir fried with chicken Mild.

Vegetable Biryani



  • 1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1l hot vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp hot curry powders (Madras is good)
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • large pinch of saffron strands
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds (black or white)
  • 500g basmati rice
  • 140g trimmed green beans, halved
  • 2 lemons, juice only
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7/fan 200C. frylight a large roasting tin or ovenproof dish and put in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat through. Add all the vegetables to the tin, except the beans,
  1. Season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 15 minutes until beginning to brown. (Add some of the stock to prevent drying)
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, stir together the stock, currypowders, chilli, saffron and mustard seeds.
  3. Mix the rice and green beans with the vegetables in the tin, then pour over the stock mixture. Lower the oven to 190C/gas 5/fan 190C. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the lemon juice and check the seasoning, serve.

    A famous Parsee dish. Interestingly the dhan part of the name means rice and a dhansak is traditionally served with a pulao of fried and spiced rice. An authentic dhansak will made with lamb and contain vegetables and many different types of dhal (the sak in the name). The curry house dhansak is often referred to as "hot, sweet and sour with lentils". The "hot" is chilli powder, the "sweet" is sugar and the "sour" is lemon juice. Curry houses commonly use masoor dhal (split red lentils) but some restaurants now use chana dhal to good effect. If it is done well the dhansak is an excellent curry with contrasting flavours and textures.

Dhansak is a popular Indian curry made from meat and lentils, flavoured with spices including cumin and ginger. It is mild, sweet and rich with just enough heat to satisfy most tastes. And best of all it benefits from being made a day in advance as it tastes even better the next day. I like to serve this with Raita and Fresh Tomato Relish, as well as hard-boiled eggs, poppadoms, rice and, of course, mango chutney.
SERVES 6 (Mary Berry's version)

  • Frylight
  • 1kg (2lb 2oz) diced lamb
  • (shoulder or leg, or a mixture)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 25g (1oz) fresh ginger root, peeled but left whole
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1½ tablespoons ground coriander
  • ½ tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml (7fl oz) beef stock
  • 75g (3oz) dried red lentils
  • 3 tablespoons clear honey
  • salt and freshly ground
  • black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/Gas 2.
  2. Heat Frylight in a large frying pan. Add half the lamb and fry until browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, then brown the other half of the lamb and set aside.
  3. Add Frylight to the pan. Add the onions and fry for 4-5 minutes until beginning to soften.
  4. Meanwhile, place the ginger, garlic and chilli in a small food processor and whiz until finely chopped.
  5. Bash the cardamom pods with the end of a rolling pin to split the husks, then remove the seeds and grind them to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar. Add to the pan along with the remaining spices and the garlic and ginger mixture.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and add the lamb. Bring to the boil, then cover and place in the oven to simmer for 1-2 hours until tender. Check the seasoning and serve.
The dopiaza is a classic Indian dish dating back at least to Moghul times. The name dopiaza broadly translates as "2 onions" or "double onions". Some traditional versions of the dopiaza use twice the weight of onions compared to the weight of meat but a classic Indian dopiaza is more likely to use the onions in 2 different ways, fried and boiled, at different stages of the cooking. The restaurant version has small fried pieces of onion in the sauce and then larger chunks of lightly cooked onion are added towards the end of the cooking. Medium hot.

Chicken Dopiaza


  • 1 kg chicken (with bones)
  • 3 tsps coriander seeds
  • 2 tsps cumin seeds
  • 3 large onions choppped fine
  • Frylight
  • 2 tsps garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsps garlic paste
  • 2 tbsps ginger paste
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped fine
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsps fresh, chopped coriander leaves


  • Heat a griddle or small, flat pan on a medium flame and gently roast the coriander and cumin seeds till aromatic. Remove from fire and grind into a corase powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder. Keep aside for later.
  • Separate the chopped onions into 2 portions - roughly 2/3 and 1/3 of the whole.
  • HeatFrylight in a large pan on a medium flame and add the first lot of onions - the 2/3 portion. Fry till golden.
  • Add the chicken and fry till browned.
  • Add all the powdered spices, ginger and garlic pastes and tomatoes and fry until the oil begins to separate from the mixture. Add salt to taste.
  • Add the remaining 1/3 portion of chopped onion and mix well with other ingredients. Sauté until this batch of onions is soft and translucent - 3-5 minutes approximately.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of water, stir and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce flame to a simmer and cook till the chicken is tender. This dish, when cooked, requires that the gravy only be enough to coat the chicken thickly. If it is not so, cook to reduce the gravy to required consistency.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve
  • Jalfrezi is not a traditional Indian dish as such but, like the bhuna, is actually a method of cooking. It literally means "hot-fry" but is probably better translated as "stir-fry". The term jalfrezi entered the English language at the time of the British Raj in India. Colonial households employed Indian cooks who would use the jalfrezi method of cooking to heat up cold roasted meat and potatoes. But the restaurant jalfrezi is not a version of the Anglo-Indian dish. Oh no. The Indian restaurant chef uses the jalfrezi method to stir-fry green peppers, onions and plenty of green chillies as the basis for a curry with just a little sauce. The chillies make the jalfrezi taste very fresh but also make it one of the hotter curries on the restaurant menu.


Chicken Jalfrezi
Serves 4
Ready in about 45 minutes


4 chicken breasts
1 onion
1 red and 1 yellow pepper
2 garlic cloves
1in piece fresh root ginger
fry light
1 tbsp medium curry powder
1 tsp each of ground cumin and coriander
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh coriander
400g can chopped tomatoes

Place the chicken between sheets of clingfilm and flatten with a rolling pin. Remove the clingfilm, cut the chicken into strips and set aside. Prepare the other ingredients. Finely slice the onion, dessed and slice the peppers, crush the garlic and grate the ginger.
Spray a pan with fry light and cook the onion, peppers, garlic and ginger for 6-8 minutes. Add the curry powder, ground cumin and coriander. Season and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
Throw in the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes. Roughly chop the coriander and stir into the pan along with the tomatoes and 100ml water. Cover and simer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Serve.
A traditional korma will have a long slow cooking. In fact, korma is not one particular dish but rather a method of cooking similar to braising. Because korma is a cooking method there are a wide variety of dishes that could be described as "korma". Many kormas call for the meat to be marinated in yoghurt and then the meat plus marinade are braised on a very low heat until all the juices condense down into a thick sauce. The restaurant chef has to cook to order so doesn't have time for long, slow cooking. The korma you find in Indian restaurants usually contains ground almonds, coconut and thick cream. It is often described on restaurant menus as being "very mild" but a good korma should not be bland.
This is a diet-friendly chicken korma from the Slimming World book Curry Heaven which I adapted slightly.
You need:
2 chicken breasts
half an onion, diced
Fry Light
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
200g tin chopped tomatoes
100ml chicken stock
3 tbsp. fat free natural yogurt


Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and fry in Fry Light
Remove from the pan when cooked, then fry the onion and garlic and add the spices; fry for a couple of seconds then pour in the stock.Add the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and tin of tomatoes and cook until reduced a littleReturn the chicken to the pan and stir in the yogurtServe with rice and vegetables.
The curry house Madras is a restaurant invention which started life as simply a hotted up version of the standard restaurant curry. Because it is a restaurant invention rather than a traditional recipe the Madras can vary considerably from one restaurant to another. The restaurant Madras can be hot or very hot, red or brown, a hotter version of a plain curry or quite rich in tomatoes. Mostly though it comes with plenty of sauce and is strongly spiced . It is the standard restaurant hot curry.
Beef Madras 2. from SW Curry Heaven.
1 onion chopped
4 cloves 6 cardamon pods
2 fresh chillies (I use Asda frozen)
1 tsp dried ginger
2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed (I use Asda frozen)
2 dried red chillies
1 tbspoon medium curry powder
9oog braising steak – all visible fat removed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
250ml beef stock
Chopped coriander to garnish (I use Asda frozen)Spray pan with frylight . Add the onions, cloves and cardamom pods. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
Add the chillis, ginger, garlic and dried chillis and stirfry for a further 2 minutes.
Add the curry powder and beef chunks and stirfry until meat is sealed.
Add thw ground coriander and cumin and stock.
Transfer to oven and cook hor a few hours OR transfer to slow cooker and cook all day.
Serve with rice.


Rogan josh is another all time favourite on the curry house menu. It was originally a Kashmiri dish but is equally at home in the Punjab. An authentic rogan josh will be made with lamb and may, at its most elaborate, contain dozens of spices. The Kashmiri and Punjabi versions do differ (the Kashmiri does not traditionally contain onions or garlic) but they are both highly spiced and share a deep red colour derived from the liberal use of dried red Kashmiri chillies. The curry house rogan is also red but the colour comes from red peppers and tomatoes rather than Kashmiri chillies. The restaurant rogan is characterised by its garnish of tomato pieces and fresh coriander. It is usually medium hot.

Lamb Rogan Gosh
 1 onion, peeled and chopped
 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
 1 tsp each of ground coriander, paprika, ground ginger and chilli powder
 454g/1lb lamb steak, all visible fat removed and cut into bite-sized pieces (I used shoulder with all fat cut off) Approximately £8 in price
 400g can chopped tomatoes
 1 bay leaf
 2 x 2.5cm/1in pieces of cinnamon stick
 4 cardamom pods
 3 cloves
 198ml/7fl oz chicken stock
 2 tsp artificial sweetener

1. Fry the onion and garlic in frylight until soft. Add all the powdered spices and fry for 1 minute (add a little water if it gets too dry).
2. Add the lamb steak, tomatoes, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, stock and sweetener and simmer for 30-35 minutes until reduced. (or transfer to oven if using shoulder and cook for several hours)
3. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon sticks. Stir in the chopped coriander and serve immediately.

 Chicken tikka masala is the all time most popular dish on the Indian restaurant menu and what the restaurant diner really needs to know is whether the restaurant is providing a good example of the dish. And what is a good example? Well, the chicken tikka pieces should be aromatic and slightly smoky from the tandoor. The masala sauce should be well spiced but not hot, rich and creamy and have a hint of coconut. Tikka masala usually has a deep red colour, gained from the use of artificial food colourings.


Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 4
500g boneless chicken (cut into cubes)
1 tomato cubed
1 onion cubed
1 red bell pepper cubed
1 green chilli diced
2 tomatoes chopped
1 cup fatfree yogurt
Chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp. gingergarlic paste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fenugreek leaves
1 stick cinnamom
3-4 cloves
3-4 green cardamoms
Pinch of mace
3-4 bayleaves
1 tbsp chopped cashew nuts (add syns)
1 tsp salt(to taste)
Lime juice
1 large finely chopped onion
1 tbsp ex v olive oil (HE b choice)

Wash the chicken and cut into cube size pieces and set aside. In a blender add the 2 large chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp chopped cashew nuts and blend together.

MarinationNow in a bowl add turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, ½ tsp fenugreek leaves, 1 cup fat free yogurt, squeeze half lime, ½ tsp salt, mix all the ingredients together. Take half the marination and in a separate bowl coat the vegetables (cubed onion, tomato, bellpeppers). Use the other half of the marination to coat the chicken.
Soak some wooden skewers for 30 mins to avoid burning when ready for use. Prepare your chicken skewers using the chicken and vegetables, alternating. Now spray a griddle pan (you can use a normal frying pan) with frylight, cook the skewers rotating to cook both sides. Any extra vegetables can be placed on top of the skewers to cook alongside.

In a fry pan add 1 tbsp olive oil, add cinnamom stick, green cadamoms, cloves, bayleaves, add cumin seeds and 1 large onion very finely chopped, add a pinch of salt, pinch of mace, . Fry the onions until nice golden brown . Add turmeric, 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste , 1 tbsp cumin powder,1 tbsp coriander powder, ½ tsp chilli powder. Make sure the flame is low when adding the spices or they may burn. Add ½ cup of water mix well. Once the masala has turned brown and cooked, add your tomato and cashew paste from the blender ,add ¼ cup water to this, cover the lid and let it simmer on low flame for 5-10minutes to allow all the flavours to combine together. Now lift the lid and add a ½ tsp of fenugreek powder into the sauce. Now remove your chicken tikka pieces from the skewers and add to the sauce with all the vegetables. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

The vindaloo was originally a Portuguese dish which took its name from the 2 main ingredients which were "vinho", wine/wine vinegar, and "alhos", garlic. Over time it was spiced up, hotted up and otherwise changed by the indigenous peoples of the ex-Portuguese colony of Goa. Not many restaurants produce an authentic Goan vindaloo not least because the pork used by Christian Goans in their recipe would not be acceptable to Muslim chefs. In some restaurants the vindaloo is just a pumped-up Madras i.e. the same recipe but with lots more chilli powder. Other restaurants have interpreted the "aloo" part of the name as meaning potato and introduced diced potato to a hot standard curry with added lemon juice for tartness and black pepper for extra pungency. Very hot. 

 A Chicken Vindaloo, doesn't have to always be blow your head off hot, you can control how much heat you like, by the amount of chilli you add.

This recipe is syn free on extra easy.

Serves 4


4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 Onions thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves crushed
1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
½ pint chicken stock
2 tsp turmeric
2 tomatoes skinned and deseeded

Vindaloo Paste

2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp chilli flakes (about madras strength, adjust to taste)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sweetener


To make the paste put all the whole and dry spices into a spice grinder and grind to a powder, mix with the rest of the paste ingredients.

Cut the chicken into chunks and rub the paste into it, marinade for at least an hour.

Spray a large pan with frylight and fry the onions till soft and golden, add the garlic and ginger, fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and boil for 10 minutes, stir in the turmeric and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken, tomatoes and ¼ pint water, bring to a boil then simmer for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened.

Serve with boiled rice or on a baked potato, with a lovely bowl of salad.

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  1. What an incredibly informative blog post. Thank you. I've put it on my favourites bar so that I can refer to it in future. It would be great to be able to make a good curry.

  2. Loved reading about our curries here. Sounded quite exotic.. which isn't really the case for us since we have curries with most our meals barring breakfast. And now I'm hungry!!!

  3. What a super Mothers Day you will have a lovely dinner almost finished. Great recipes.
    My son who is at home right now, is a fabulous Indian cook.
    The mustard seed is my favorite spice but you have to watch them they like to pop the second you look away. He always toasts some extra for me and sprinkles then on top of the finished dish just for me.
    So wonderful.

    cheers, parsnip

  4. I am an Indian and I an happy to read about Chicken Tikka Masala , bhuna , balti.

  5. Thank you for all the recipes.
    I do enjoy a mild curry but my Hubby cannot take the spices so I wait until we go out to a restaurant for my fix.

  6. Hi Denise, next time I do a curry I shall consult your recipes, must say they look good ,
    love Di..xx

  7. Wow Denise - some post here. I love curry but sadly the farmer hates it.

  8. You ABCW people are killing me - Mexican food, Indian food...
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  9. Very informative post - I love Indian food but have never tried to cook it - you inspire me to try! I do have all of the spices, I recently bought fenugreek leaves but haven't used them yet - now I have a plan :)

  10. Wow! What a great list of curry recipes! Everything sounds very tasty, I am sure they will be a hit on Mother's Day!

  11. I'm going to print all this out - thank you!

  12. Lots of interesting recipes. I've never cooked a curry dish. - Margy

  13. Lots of Indian flavors in one single post! Immense work Indeed:)

  14. Oh Denise! I do wish I lived close by so I could just "happen to be passing" once in a while. Especially when I smell the Indian spices in the air! LOL

    abcw team

  15. Oh, I have to remember to eat something before visiting your ABC post! I always end up hungry after reading it, lol!


Thank you for your comments, always nice to know somebody has taken the time to let me know what they think.