After having tried Japan’s favorite curry base (Golden curry) almost available in every corner store, I had enough of those packaged curry bases.
Curry is a fascinating food, a food that zaps your tongue and coats it with a sensational exotic taste that lingers, while it tingles. Adopted and anglicized from the Tamiliam word “kara”, which means sauce, it’s served all over the globe and I mean everywhere. Each country adopts the base and adds to it their own particular touch.
In Japan people eat it an average of 78 times a year and that’s more than sushi. They even eat curry karē pan, (curry bread) a popular Japanese food. Japanese curry is wrapped in a piece of dough, and the dough coated in bread crumbs, and deep fried or baked.
Spices are fundamental to all curry recipes and there is a range of spices which can be used but only a few of which form a basic curry base. One of the most important spices for curry is two seeds; cumin and coriander seeds. Additional spices can be used such as; fenugreek, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cardamom and some others may be included for specific types of curry depending on the region.
The very best results will always come from grinding spices from whole seeds just before using them.I suggest toasting the seeds until they crackle and then freshly grind and blend in other fresh spices.
Oil is essential in all curries as it helps carry the spices. Some Indian restaurants use Ghee which is a clarified butter, but olive oil is a fair alternative, or use neutral oil instead. The base of the sauce can be thickened cornflour, or other types of thickening agents, and I use kudzu.
The use of garam marsala is key and contains: black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon or cassia bark, nutmeg and mace, black and green cardamom pods and bay leaf.
There are various techniques to make curry and often chefs use a curry roux by taking butter and flour and mixing them and then adding in the base ingredients such as curry powder and garam marsala. I do it this way as well.
Step 1. Oil a skillet on medium heat adding finely chopped onions and cook until translucent.
Step 2. Now add the main curry powder and the garam marsala to taste.
Step 3. Add ginger juice and some finely minced garlic and a small pinch fresh chopped chillies.
Step 4. Add the main ingredient, i.e. meat or chicken and stir.
Step 5. Add vegetable stock and cover the ingredients and simmer until main ingredient is cooked.
Step 7. Add a small amount of kudzu to thicken by diluting it in separate water.
Step 8. Taste and season with salt.
Step 9. Add some fresh coriander leaves.
Depending on the main ingredient, most curries are quite tolerant of longer cooking and will keep on a low simmer until ready to be served.
This is what you expect from handmade curry, zinging of the flavors, a spiciness with a consistency that is not too watery, nor too thick. I am not a curry expert but when you taste great curry you dream of having it again and again.