Classic Curry Recipes

In English, at least, they term 'curry' typically refers to a range of spicy dishes originating in South Asia and Southeast Asia and often refers to a dish that is cooked in a sauce. In northern India and Pakistan the term 'curry' typically mans a gravy and often this gravy is flavoured with curry powder which, more accurately is a 'masala'.

Thus a real curry is a combination of the main ingredients in a gravy that's spiced with a spice blend, the masala. Though you can buy commercial masalas (curry powders) the maximum flavour will always be obtained if you roast and blend your own spices. Below is a recipe for a classic marsala and a curry made using it.

Madras Masala

1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp dried chillies
3cm length ginger, grated

Add a little oil to a large pan or wok and fry the mustard seeds until they begin to splutter and crack then stir-in the curry leaves, ginger and the chillies. Fry for about 2 minutes then tip into a spice blender.

Dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds until they become aromatic then combine with the spices already in the blender. Blend the spices to a fine powder then add all the remaining spices. Use this masala in the recipe below.

Lamb Madras

1kg good quality leg of lamb, cut into 3cm cubes
3 tbsp cooking oil
Madras masala (from recipe above)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp tomato purée
250ml beef or strong vegetable stock
generous handful of chopped coriander (to garnish)

Pace the meat in a bowl, meanwhile mix the madras masala and the vinegar to form a paste. Add this to the meat and rub in with your hands. Cover and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the oil to a large pan or wok and add the onions and garlic. Fry until the onions are a dark golden brown (about 10 minutes) then add the meat and its spiced marinade. Continue frying until the meat has browned all over then stir-in the stock and tomato purée. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and continue cooking for 1 hour (or until the lamb is tender).

Take off the heat, add the coriander leaves and serve on a bed of plain boiled rice.

This is a classic Indian curry, but these cooking methods have been exported all around the world. The British brought them to Europe, the Malay brought them to Africa and Indians brought them to Polynesia and the Caribbean. Today you will find local variants of traditional curries just about anywhere and the curry has become a truly international dish.

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About The Author, Gwydion
Dyfed Lloyd Evans runs the Celtnet Recipes website where you can find a whole range of curry recipes from all over the world. You can also find a whole range of classic spice blend recipes many of which are curry masalas.