Currying f(l)avour

In Recipes on January 3, 2012 at 12:34 am

Due to the huge migrations of Indians around the world (often as indentured labourers or merchants) curry is eaten everywhere.  Each country has adapted curry to suit its own needs and the local ingredients.  There are Thai Massaman curry, Malaysian Beef Rendang and South African Bunny Chow (curried beans in a hollowed out loaf of bread).  In Britain curry – Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Korma, Butter Chicken – has arguably stolen the title of national dish from roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  In Japan curry is classed with other dishes that have come from the West, as Yo-Shoku which literally means ‘Western food’.  This is because, lacking their own Indian migrants, the Japanese discovered curry via the West.  In India itself, curry varies from region to region – depending on the availability of ingredients and the dietary requirement of the various Indian religions – so a South Indian curry may be quite different from a North Indian one.

The curry recipe I give here doesn’t claim to be authentic Indian, nor does it use the flavours of any particular region.  It is just my own interpretation as I suspect many of the curries made by Indian cooks are also theirs.

Beef curry and chicken curry served with turmeric rice

My ‘Indian’ Curry


1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chilli flakes

1/3 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp black mustard seeds

a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger (peeled and grated)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

500g gravy beef OR 500g free range chicken legs

2 onions (thinly sliced)

1 tbs tomato paste

1/2 400g tin diced tomatoes

2 tbs sunflower oil

1 tbs unsalted butter

1 tsp tamarind concentrate

fresh mint or coriander


Heat a little of the oil in a heavy based saucepan.  Brown the meat on all sides and remove.  Add the rest of the oil and butter and fry the capsicum, onions, garlic and ginger gently.  Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds and fry for 1 min.  Add the ground spices and fry gently until aromatic (about 1 – 2 mins).  Add the tomato paste and fry for about 30 seconds.  Add the meat, tinned tomatoes, tamarind concentrate and a couple of cups of water or stock.  Simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender or the chicken is falling from the bone.  Finish with a handful of mint or coriander and serve with Basmati rice, yoghurt and lime pickle or mango chutney.

Mint adds some freshness to the beef curry

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