Monday 10 October 2011

British Indian Restaurant Style Curry Gravy

Curry is a magical food. No other food tingles my senses like a good curry and for a few years I’ve tried as faithfully as possible to master it, but most of my efforts haven’t been anywhere near correct in terms of texture, aroma and taste. Until now. The below picture was last nights chicken madras and it tasted every bit as good as it looks!

Chicken Madras

What follows is a recipe that I’ve followed from “Undercover Curry” by Dave Loyden. If you’re into curry I’d recommend that book over any other (including”The Curry Secret ” by Kris Dhillon). I want to support the author in his work so I’m not giving away everything, just an overview of the processes, ingredients and time taken so you can get a rough idea of what to do in order to get the gravy just right. You’ll need the book to get a full curry right because there are many tips and tricks that are not mentioned here that are ‘essential’ in getting a dish perfect.


You don’t need much to get this nailed, but at the very least you’re going to need

  • A large pot - a 17 litre stock pot would be perfect
  • A blender - you’ll need to make the gravy silky smooth.
  • Patience - this does take a bit of time.


There is a lot of ingredients that go in to the dish and you’ll need them all

  1. Lots of Onions
  2. A small cabbage
  3. A few carrots
  4. A red pepper
  5. A green pepper
  6. A fair whack of ginger
  7. A fair whack of garlic
  8. Lots of coriander stalks
  9. A handful of fresh coriander leaf
  10. A carton of passata or tinned tomatoes or some tomato puree
  11. Big curry spoon of salt
  12. Big curry spoon of coriander seeds ( dry roasted and ground)
  13. Big curry spoon of ground cumin
  14. Big curry spoon of asafoetida
  15. Big curry spoon of ground fenugreek
  16. Big curry spoon of curry powder
  17. Most of a big curry spoon of ground turmeric
  18. 400g of oil ( I used sunflower, and about half of what than the book stated )
  19. 400g Water

You’ll want to roughly chop the ingredients, they don’t have to be fine because later on you’ll blend them. Big is good. Here is a picture of the ingredients in the pot.

In The Pot

Stage One: Extract the moisture.

Now you’ll want to crack the pot on the lowest heat possible and pop the lid on. This bit is going to take a while and the aim of it is to extract the moisture from the ingredients without burning the bottom of the pan. It took my half filled pot about an hour to get up to really get going and another further hour and a half before it was ready for the next stage.

You don’t stir the pan until at least an hour and when you do don’t scrape the bottom! Be gentle. Here it is at various stages

After 45 mins

After 45 mins

After 75 mins

After 75 mins

After 105 mins

After 105 mins

Done after two and half hours. Notice the film of red oil on the top?

Done after two and half hours

Stage Two: Puree.

Now you need to blend and puree the results of stage one so that they’re smooth. Not almost smooth, not kind of smooth, but really, really smooth. For me the only way to do this was to give the mixture an initial blend in our blender and then transfer it to a holding container, where I scooped out a litre at time and used the stick blender on it.

This process took me two hours. If I had of had a commercial blender it would have taken about ten mins. Below you can see the mixture going into the blender and then into the holding container.

Blend number one, no where near smooth enough

At this point it just looks like it did in the pot, only less rustic. The magic starts in the next stage.

Ready for the stick blender

After being made silky smooth with the hand blender you can see the difference in colour. It’s went from a rich brown to a golden yellow / brown. This is alchemy with food.

Delicious golden yellow/brown

It took me a good few hours of blending with the hand blender, mostly because I had to rest our blender out of fear it would burn out. But it was worth it because after a few hours I had a vat of emulsion that was ready for the final cook. At this point you need to add as much water into the pan as there is gravy.

Ready for final stage cooking

Now you want to pop the lid on and heat it until it gets to a rolling boil. When it gets there, remove the lid and let the mixture reduce until the water is gone. This process separates the oil from the gravy and is essential in achieving the correct flavours. Other curry books will tell you to skim off the froth created at this stage. However don’t do this, the froth is the tasty, tasty oil so leave it be. I

It took me another two hours to get the gravy through this stage. Here it is various intervals.

After an hour

Ready for final stage cooking

After 75 mins

Ready for final stage cooking

Done after 120 mins

Ready for final stage cooking

Over to you

That pot of gravy contained enough to make 14 meals for two. It may have taken about 7 hours to make but now I can now cook a restaurant quality curry in about 30 mins. Even if we have two curries per week that’s enough for just under two months worth.

If you’re even the slightest bit interested I would urge that you buy “Undercover Curry” by Dave Loyden. You will not regret it.

Best book ever.