Saturday, March 11th, 2017
My top tips in the Indian kitchen, written especially for YOU, guaranteed to assist you as you get inventive with your spicing.
Cook an onion, really well for curry, it’s a myth that you need to use lots of oil or butter, a splash of oil will do, use a little water to cool the pan down and save the onions from burning when the onions are caramelised and golden, you have a great flavour to start your curry.
Learn to cook Rice: soak a cup of rice in a bowl to shift some of the starch, use a sieve to give it a good rinse, place it in a pan with a cup and a quarter of boiling water, a drop of oil helps and a little cumin, garam masala and salt adds flavour, give the pan a quick stir, cover and simmer on the lowest heat setting for 12 minutes, take the heat off and allow to rest for a further ten minutes, you have beautiful rice. The basic rule of rice to water is equal, plus a quarter cup for the pan.
Preparing ginger and garlic is easy, simply use your grater, the finer side is best, I peel ginger using a potato peeler, both ginger and garlic need to be cooked through so add once the onions are starting to caramelise.
When preparing Chillies, use the seeds, look for a balanced flavour, not just a chilli kick, I use traditional long green ones, the bigger, red fruitier ones, chilli powder and my favourite are the chilli flakes.
Do not brown meat in a separate pan, seal it from raw, directly into your curry sauce, you will season and tenderise the meat in one step and save yourself a pan to wash. When using your slow cooker, I think it’s lovely to make your sauce up as usual on the hob, again seal the meat on the hob and then transfer to your slow cooker, it really is a lovely way to cook curry, the only way I cook lamb.
When making any daals (lentils) or beans, soak and wash them until the water runs clear and then boil them, in a pan, a pressure cooker (my preferred method) or a slow cooker, do not add salt or the skins will become tough. Beans need a longer soak, overnight is best. I generally use canned beans, occasionally, I do cook from scratch so soak overnight.
When cooking a mixed vegetable curry, cook the veg from raw and start with the ones that take the longest, prepare them in order of cooking for example potatoes, carrots and aubergine go in first, then ten minutes later, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers follow and finally five or so minutes later, add frozen peas. The veggies will be cooked to perfection.
Coriander is one of my favourite herbs and I add it right at the end, when serving, just before the dish goes to the table, wash and check the leaves, use the stalks – so much flavour is in the stalks.
Fresh tomatoes, spring onions, lemons, red onions, nuts can be added to finished curries, it’s such a delicious and healthy way to add extra interest and texture to a dish, guaranteed to impress any guests.
Taste as you go, don’t be frightened to check seasoning, just do it when the sauce is cool enough and the spices have cooked through, sometimes, I add a pinch of sugar, salt, chilli or a little squeeze of lemon to get the flavours just right.
Practice makes perfect, especially true of chapattis, once you learn your rhythm, you can “roll” them out at great speed, so healthy with no nasty additives. When making a recipe for the first time, take your time and have a “google” around to see if you can pick up any tips!
Don’t bother with ground cumin or coriander, it’s so easy to grind your own, roast for a couple of minutes in a warm pan and grind using a pestle & mortar. It’s speedy, fresh and once you have ground your own, there will be no going back.
Check your garam masala, is it grey? You might want to bin it, so you might not have mine floating around, that’s a little sad, it’s so easy to purchase from my online shop and I only make it in small batches, so it’s always fresh, vibrant and brings any dish to life, try garam masala on cheese on toast, omelettes, a pinch in baking and so good in banana loaf, honest. Here’s the link to my shop: /shop/
Share your home cooked dishes, with your friends and family. I guarantee if you follow the tips in this blog post, you will have so much pleasure and understand my favourite saying #lovinglyhomemade.
Lajina Leal, Founder, Lajina Masala
Lajina had a Corporate Career as an Accountant for many years and whilst discussing an impending redundancy in an Indian restaurant with her friends, they persuaded her to set up an Indian Cooking School.
The fun started in October 2013 and the business has grown from strength to strength.