Making a Homemade Curry Dinner

Oct 23, 2020 | Recipes

Curry is not something that I grew up eating. In fact, I didn’t try Indian food or have a curry dinner until I was in my mid-twenties. I always had this stigma about it because I’d never had it, and it didn’t look or smell like any food I’d eaten. I may have actually been scared of the flavours and that it would be very hot. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned to like hot food. But anyway, eventually, I was coerced by a girlfriend to try butter chicken. She had some leftover takeout and insisted that I try it. To appease her, I did. I remember feeling very apprehensive about it. But, and I remember this very clearly, the moment I tasted the slight sweetness, richness, and intensity of the flavours, I was blown away. It was like nothing I’d ever had before, and a whole new world of flavours had opened up to me.

Now, at least two or three times a month, I make some kind of curry dish. Sometimes I take a shot at classic Indian dishes, but a lot of times, I use the Indian cooking techniques I’ve learned and make my own curry dishes. That’s what I’m going to share with you today. We are going to look at three different recipes. The first is haddock marinated in yogurt and spices, then pan-fried. The second is a hearty, vegetable curry. And the third is a flatbread made from chickpea flour (ground chickpeas). I am super excited to share this with you, and I think that this has been long-winded enough so, let’s get to it.

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The spices

I used two spice blends for these recipes that you can find them in just about any grocery store. They are Madras Curry Powder, which is usually just sold as curry powder. The other is Garam Masala. Curry powder, as we know it, doesn’t exist in India at all, but Garam Masala is pretty ubiquitous. So, if there were an authentic Indian Curry powder, Garam Masala would be it. The brand of spices that I’m using is actually a local brand called Taste Of Mauritius. They are a catering and spice company from Halifax. They sent me a few spices to try, and I can honestly say that they are the best spices blends I’ve ever had. You can check out their website here.


Marinating Curried Haddock

To make the haddock, we first need to make a quick marinade with yogurt and spices. I used about a quarter cup of full-fat plain Greek Yogurt. To that, I added one teaspoon each minced ginger and garlic. One tablespoon sliced Thai Red Chilli (take the seeds out if you don’t like spice), one tablespoon of the Garam Masala, and two teaspoons lemon juice. All the ingredients get mixed, then two haddock fillets, cut in half, are added and coated in the mixture. Then, I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for thirty minutes to marinate.

Marinating in Yogurt

Marinating foods in yogurt is very common in Indian cooking. The yogurt adds a fresh acidity to the marinating ingredients and even helps to tenderize them. The yogurt sticks to the food to hold the other flavours in the marinade onto the main ingredient. You can use this same marinade on chicken, salmon, lamb, pork, or beef.


Vegetable Curry

I can’t speak to the authenticity of this vegetable curry. I can say that the way I build the flavour in the first half of the cooking process is fairly traditional. Not only that, but it is kind of one of the secrets to making great Indian food. Whether you are making a sauce or a vegetable curry like we are about to, start it the same way, and you are pretty much gauranteed that it will taste good.

A convoluted analogy

I don’t know how to explain this other than how I’m about to, so I hope this makes sense. Imagine food as music. In a standard pop song, you have drums, a guitar or two, maybe some keyboard, and bass. Some songs are very guitar-driven, think Sultans of Swing by Dire Straights. In contrast, other songs are very bass-driven, like Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes and yes, for musicians, I know it’s a guitar. A lot of European food is in that higher range, like a guitar-driven song. There are bass notes in there, but that’s not what’s driving the food. Indian food, on the other hand, and to be clear, India is a big place, with a lot of different culinary styles, so I am really generalizing and oversimplifying a very complex culinary culture here. But, Indian food, in general, plays more in that bass range than a lot of other cuisines. Yes, these are high notes and bright flavours in Indian food, but many of the driving flavours are lower in that bass range. To make good Indian food, good curry, you need to understand how to develop those bass flavours.

I think this difference in flavour ranges catches many people up when attempting to make curry or other Indian dishes. The flavours are built differently using different techniques than how people in North America, and Europe are used to. Having said that, the techniques aren’t difficult. It’s just a matter of knowing them and how to use them. So, let’s take a look.

The Base of the Curry Flavour

Every cuisine around the world has a few ingredients that make up the foundation of most of their dishes. In French cooking, it is mirepoix (onion, carrot, and celery). In Spanish cooking, it is Sofrito; Creole cooking has the holy trinity, and in Indian cooking, it is a mixture of onion, ginger, garlic, and chilli. Sometimes this will be made into a paste, and sometimes, as I do here, the ingredients are hand-cut.

Building flavour

So, to start building our vegetable curry’s flavour, we start with butter, ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil. With Indian food, you use more fat than you would normally. You’ll see why in a second. To the fat, we add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli. You can check out the recipe below for all the measurements. This mixture gets cooked over medium-high heat until it all starts to brown. Next, we add the spices. In this case, it is the Madras Curry Powder. This is where that extra oil comes in. If the pan is dry because the other ingredients have absorbed the oil, the spices will burn. But, the spices have to be cooked to get those deep bass notes that we’re looking for. So, use the extra oil and cook the spices for about one minute or until you can really start to smell them. Then add in the tomato paste.

Adding Sweetness

This is a technique that I’ve taken from Indian cooking and use whenever I’m cooking with tomato paste. In Indian cooking, the tomato paste is cooked until it is dark red or for about three to four minutes. This cooking transforms the tomato paste’s sugars, making it much sweeter and taking away the bitterness. In other curry recipes, you will often see the addition of sugar. But, if you take the time to cook the tomato paste out properly, there is no need to add sweetness to the dish. It’s already there.


Adding Vegetables

Once the tomato paste has been cooked, add in the vegetables, stir them to coat them in the tomato paste and spices, then add in a bit of liquid and bring to a boil. Season everything with salt and pepper, cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for twenty to thirty minutes or until the vegetables are tender. That’s it. That is the whole process. The vegetables I used and the amounts are listed in the recipe at the end of this post.


Cooking Fish Curry

To cook the fish, heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, add a few teaspoons of olive oil, and then the fish. Leave the fish alone for about three minutes, then flip and leave to cook for another three minutes. If you’d like, you can finish the fish with a squeeze of lemon, but it doesn’t really need it. If you are using haddock or another flaky fish to make this recipe, expect it to fall apart a little bit while cooking.


Chickpea Roti

The recipe for Chickpea roti is taken from THE INDIAN COOKING COURSE cookbook. I’ve modified it slightly, but it came from the book. I love this chickpea roti because it tastes amazing, it is straightforward and quick to come together, and most importantly for me, it’s gluten-free.

The Indian Cooking Course

Making the Roti

For whatever reason, I didn’t take any pictures of the process of mixing the Roti batter, but it’s all in the recipe below. Essentially, you take chickpea flour. You add salt, ginger, garlic, chilli, cilantro, Garam Masala, and water. The batter gets mixed until it is about crepe batter’s consistency, then fried in oil or butter until crisp on both sides. Finish the bread by brushing it with melted butter. It is the perfect accompaniment to the vegetable curry because the chickpea flour is loaded with protein. You can buy the chickpea flour (maybe labelled Garbonzo Bean Flour) in most grocery stores.

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Homemade Curry Dinner

Making curry at home isn't nearly as complicated as most people think. This full curry dinner composed of curried haddock, vegetables curry, and chickpea naan bread is just the thing to show you how easy and delcious homemade curry can be.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Curry, Fish Curry, Vegetable Curry
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef’s Notes

Ingredients

Curried Haddock

  • 2 ea Haddock Fillets
  • 1/4 cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tbsp Sliced Fesh Chilli
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Minced Ginger
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice

Vegetable Curry

  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Onions
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Minced Ginger
  • 1 tbsp Minced Red Chilli
  • 1 tbsp Madras Curry Powder
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Diced Sweet Potato
  • 1/2 cup Diced Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 cup Diced Carrot
  • 1 cup Diced Potato
  • 1 cup Sliced Cabbage
  • 2 cups Water or Stock
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Cilantro
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Chickpea Roti

  • 2 cups Chickpea Flour
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Minced Ginger
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/4 tsp Minced Red Chilli
  • 2 tbsp Chopped Cilantro
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • Canola Oil to cook

Instructions

Curried Haddock

  • In a medium mixing bowl combine the yogurt, Garam Masala, ginger, garlic, and lemon juice. Mix well.
  • Cut the haddock fillets in half and add them to the bowl with the yogurt. Coat the fish in the yogurt, cover the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in 1 tbsp of olive oil then add the fish.
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper and cook the fish for three minutes per side.

Vegetable Curry

  • Heat a large high-sided pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pan then add in the onion, ginger, garlic, and chilli. Foor until the ginger and garlic begin to brown.
  • Add the Madras Curry powder to the pan, cook for one minute then add in the tomato past.
  • Cook the tomato paste for two to three minutes or until it beings to darken.
  • Add the vegetables to the pan and stir to coat them in the tomato paste.
  • Add the water to the pan along with some salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil then turn the heat to low and simmer the vegetables for 20 to 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Taste the curry, season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste then stir in the cilantro.

Chickpea Roti

  • In a medium bowl combine the chickpea flour, water, ginger, garlic, chilli, Garam masla, and salt. Stir well. The batter should be the consistency of a crepe batter.
  • Heat a large non stick frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and pour a ladle full of the batter into the pan. Swirl it around until the batter is very thin. Cook the roti for about two minutes, flip and cook for another two minutes. Rub the cooked roti with butter, set aside and continue cooking until all of the batter has been used.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Conclusion

As difficult as it may seem to make delicious curry and other Indian dishes at home, it really just comes down to knowing the basic cooking techniques. This true for every cooking style and cuisine. If you know the traditional techniques and the traditional ingredients, it’s almost impossible not to make something that tastes somewhat traditional. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post, but more so, I hope that you’ve learned something that you will use. If you did, please share this because you never know who it could help.

Have a great weekend everyone! I’ll see you soon.

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Chef Ben Kelly

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