Basic Curry

Ross Elliot's picture
Submitted by Ross Elliot on Thu, 2006-03-30 04:39

Due to an enormous number of requests (2), I'm posting this recipe.

Most people enjoy curries but perceive them as being difficult to make. Consequently they order out or use a store-bought sauce or powder. Fact is, curries are easy and use readily available ingredients.

Here's my basic curry that suits most tastes and can be made mild or spicy. Americans, be grateful that I've converted the metrics for you Smiling

You'll get all these ingredients at your local supermarket.

For two or three.


3 medium onions (red or white) finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped or pressed
2 thumbs of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated (mmm, smell it)
2 finely chopped finger-sized chiles (cayenne, serrano or equivalent) for mild heat, 3 for warm, 5 for hot. You can use cayenne pepper if chiles aren't available - 1/2 tsp per chile.
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
4 whole cloves
6 cardamom pods
1 finger-sized cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
handful of coriander leaves
1 small can (150ml, 6oz) of coconut cream
1 cup chicken stock
400g (16oz) can crushed tomatoes
3 chicken breast fillets, boned, skinned.

In a 30cm, 12" pan, heat enough light olive oil to decently cover the whole pan. Don't be stingy with the oil. It's healthy and more of an ingredient than a frying medium. Bring to a medium heat.

Add the mustard seeds, fennel and cumin. Fry gently until the mustard starts to pop. Add turmeric and paprika and stir through for 30 seconds. Add the garlic, ginger and chile. Fry for 1 min. Add in the onions. The mixture should be sizzle gently, not obviously browning. If things don't look nice and slick, then add more oil. Fry until onions go clear and start to colour slightly, about five minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan to a low heat and warm the fenugreek, cloves and cardamom pods. No oil. Do it dry, until you can smell the heady aroma of the spice. Don't let them blacken or burn. Tip the spices into a grinder or a pestle and mortar. Grind to powder. Sprinkle over frying onion and combine. It should be smelling very good at this stage.

Add stock, half the tomatoes and the coconut cream. Stir well and bring to a low simmer. Add the cinnamon, bay leaf and anise. If the mixture looks very thick, add more stock. It should be the consistency of liquid cream.

Add a tsp of sugar. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon, bay leaf and anise.

Taste. You'll need to add salt - 1/4 tsp at a time until it's really tasty. Don't over-salt. Add. Stir it in. Taste.

(That's the sauce. You can keep it in the chiller for days or freeze it.)

To complete:

Take the breasts in your hands. They should feel firm and smooth. Yes? Good... very good. Cut the chicken into 1cm, 1/2" thick slices across the breast. Simmer in the sauce for ten minutes.

Roughly chop the coriander and add it into the pan along with the last of the tomatoes. Just stir it in. No need to cook further.

Serve with basmati rice, yoghurt and chapatis (or garlic bread).


1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup of peeled, deseeded and finely chopped cucumber
1 tsp finely chopped mint
big pinch of salt

Combine and chill for 30 minutes.


2 cups plain, all-purpose flour
big pinch salt
1/2 tsp of fresh and finely ground black pepper

Combine with enough cold water to make a stiff dough. Put in a bowl, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Kneed for a few seconds to make pliable.

Pull off golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll out to form 8" discs. They should be quite thin.

Medium-hot pan. Brush lightly with oil for each chapati. Cook chapatis on each side until slightly bubbled and coloured. You want them pliable and not crispy.

Use pieces of chapati between the thumb and first two fingers to grab mouthfuls of curry and rice.


( categories: )

Easy, big guy...

Prima Donna's picture

I was not aware of its *commonality*. Smiling As I said, I'm not well-versed in curries, but I'm sure you'll enlighten us plebes with your vast knowledge of the subject. Smiling

Jennifer, star anise

Ross Elliot's picture

Jennifer, star anise is a *common* spice in Indian curries. The full-spice & coconut nature of this curry make it Goan, from Goa in the south of India. Although, with the addition of lime juice, leaves & fish sauce, it might be a Thai curry... sort of.

Food porn.

Prima Donna's picture

"Take the breasts in your hands. They should feel firm and smooth. Yes? Good... very good."

Geez, Ross. Smiling

This curry of which you speak -- of what ethnic derivation is it? I was not aware that anise was used in any kind of curry, so now you have me curious.

Post more. More, more. Smiling

-- The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

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