Indian Cooking - what are we doing wrong?(30 Posts)
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DP and i have an Indian cookbook and have tried to make some of the curries. But everyone we've tried so far has ended up very runny and more like watery stew than curry consistency. What are we doing wrong? We've thought about looking into a proper Indian cooking course but they're so expensive it's just not feasible for us.
Which ones have you made? What are you putting in them to make them so runny? A few examples of things you've tried would be helpful. ( not being judgy, just trying to get a better picture!)
It's hard to know what you're doing wrong without knowing what you're doing If you are trying to make the kind of curries you get in a British Indian restaurant this site is an excellent resource though:
Oops, that is a good site but this is a better one:
I did an Indian cookery course and one of the tricks is to actually grate rather than chop the onions so that they become more of a thick paste when cooking. Keep moving the paste in the pan and cook them until they go really quite dark brown before added the spices. Then add the other more liquid ingredients gradually to until it is the right consistency for you
Not holding your nerve and taking it off the heat too soon?
Look up Madhur Jaffrey recipes. They are failsafe, in my experience.
Are they meat or veg curries? How much liquid are you adding? Potatoes can absorb quite a lot of liquid so you could try adding them.
I usually make my base by just whizzing some onions and capsicum peppers through a liquidiser.
My basic generic curry is roughly this:
Marinate chicken (or other meat) in yoghurt or oil heavily seasoned with masala or your own spice mix for 24 hours. Grill or BBQ meat once marinaded.
Start off with some ghee or oil in a pan and gently cook the spices, chillis and garlic with a couple of spoons of ground almonds (not essential but help thicken the sauce). Then add liquidised onions and capsicums and remains of marinade. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes then add the meat and cook for another 10 or 15 minutes. Add cream, yoghurt or creme fraiche to get the sauce to your preferred consistency.
The variation is in the spices you use and additional flavours like tomato (tomato puree is excellent for thickening up a sauce that is a little too runny) and adding chunks of onions/peppers/mushrooms etc if you feel like it.
Perhaps they are meant to be eaten with chapattis, hence quite liquidy
Some curries are meant to be runny. You can make them thicker by simmering uncovered so that the water evaporates
Try using coconut cream instead of coconut milk, less liquidy.
I'd recommend Meera Sodhas books - Made in India, and Fresh India. I've not had a fail yet and I'm quite new to Indian cooking.
I add red lentils to my curry recipes, they really thicken up the sauce.
You need to cook your onions on a low and slow heat for a long time - that's what makes a curry thick. Also do not add too much water if you don't want a watery curry. Fully fledged Indian here
I use corn flour to ticken sauces/soups so that might work?
I've spent the past 35 years trying to learn how to make curries like the ones you get in British Indian restaurants. The sites above are good, but to get the basics down, you might want to look at this e-book and the follow up
These are not authentic Indian curries, these are BIR curries, with a lot of prep and a short cooking time. They use a base gravy, and it's important to have the heat high enough to reduce this down as the curry cooks, otherwise it will indeed be runny.
Which book is it?
I swear by Rick Stein's India.
Pop the onions in the blender instead of chopping.
As others have said, authentic curries often are quite runny. The thick, rather cloying (to my mind) sauce you get in the average uk curry house is not necessarily what the recipe aims for.
Not really no, but we don't have watery curries either. You shouldn't be adding more than 1/2 cup water.
Maybe add less liquid if the sauce consistency isn't to your liking?
I think some of the problem is with the Western perception of curry! I'm not referring specifically to the op here but a lot of people refer to 'curry' as one dish when there are literally hundreds of curries with different flavours, consistencies, heat, texture etc.
I once listened to a presentation by an Indian chef at a food festival. Someone asked the question 'Why do none of the curries I cook at home ever taste like those I eat in restaurants?' The answer was most people don't use enough salt, ghee and sugar!
Can try to help if you give some more details (indian and we cook curries quite often)
Some reasons could be:
- Adding too much water at the start
- not taking your time with the steps. Cookbooks notoriously underestimated how long it takes to cook onions - don't crowd the pan and give it a good 10 minutes to slowly cook and roast or turn properly translucent depending on recipe.
- let the curry cook for a while (and take the lid off if you've added more liquid) - the oil needs to separate a bit from the masala to know you're close to done
As a last resort once all the above are fixed, I often add thick creamy yoghurt, or a handful of almond meal or a few cashews blitzed into fine powder into the curry after it's fully done. Will thicken up super fast and give it a nice shiny finish!
Sorry for not updating. The pics aren't great but here are two we've made recently. One of them is a quick basic one we used on a weeknight and even that came out quite runny even though we didn't add the second lot of water.
You need to make the base of your sauce first. This is how we traditionally do it:
Tsp oil and temper mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, a couple of dried kashmiri chillis, three or four dried gloves, half of a dried cinnamon stick, fresh ginger cut in thin matchsticks, a few green chillis, and indian lime leaves. Let is sizzle on a lowish heat. Add asfoteda and then add FINELY chopped onions (do it really fine, so they melt into the sauce), finely chopped or minced garlic. Let is cook until it goes translucent, and then add the base for your sauce (usually tomatoes but can be water or cream etc) and cook right down with the dry spices and seasoning. With Indian cooking you must season while cooking otherwise you won't get the flavour.
Everything else is cooked (or half-cooked) separately and added back into the base sauce and cooked properly.
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