Of course, probably the best way to make the most of National Curry Week is by ordering a curry from your favourite takeaway this weekend, but as that option doesn’t quite fit into our money-saving ethos, I’m going to look at a few more budget-friendly ways to get your curry on this week. This isn’t going to involve any specific recipes (you can take a look at one of our many curry dishes on our site), but more so clever tips and tricks to help you replicate that restaurant or takeaway curry in your own home. It’s tricky I know, but it might just be possible…
Never let your food cupboard be without a tin, that’s what I always say. As long as you have a spare one sitting around, you’re always part of the way to creating a perfectly satisfactory homemade curry, whether it’s Indian or Thai inspired. Make a very basic sauce by frying some curry powder in oil then adding a tin of coconut milk, or do the same with curry paste – it’s that simple. You can then add chicken or vegetables, or whatever you prefer. It may not be that authentic, but it’s certainly easy.
There are many great curry pastes available in supermarkets these days, but the one ingredient that really makes a homemade Thai curry is a dash of fish sauce. It may not smell too tempting on its own, but add some to your Thai curry sauce and it can bring all those flavours together and be the finishing touch you’ve been looking for.
Not a new addition when it comes to curry powder and blends, but I recently made a great cumin-related discovery whilst trying to cook butter chicken. After making an infused tomato sauce base (more on that later), the recipe called for me to fry some ground cumin in butter before pouring the sauce back in the pan. When it came to tasting the finished product, the cumin was detectable in a fantastic way, not overpowering, but more bringing every flavour component together, much like the fish sauce did. Since then I’ve made this cumin technique a feature of most of my curry dishes and it continues to impress.
Five Spice Infusion
Going back to that butter chicken recipe again, it called for an infused tomato sauce and the recipe required half a dozen cloves, which I didn’t have. What I did have were five spice berries, so I stuck a couple of them in instead and the results were brilliant. In terms of adapting this to a simple curry, just stick two or three into the sauce while it’s simmering and then remove when done for a more complex flavour.
Again, I’m going back to that butter chicken (what can I say? It was really tasty). The recipe told me to stir in 3 teaspoons of honey, which I misread and added 3 tablespoons instead. Best mistake I ever made! This extra sweetness worked a treat, so if you feel you curry is lacking a certain something, try adding a bit of honey. And then a bit more. And maybe a bit more after that.
So what have we learnt? A few extra ingredients can transform your curry, and messing up a recipe sometimes has excellent consequences. So make sure you cram in a spicy dish before the end of National Curry Week, and see if you can include some (but perhaps not all) of the above!