Curry, like pasta sauce, is one of those things you can add just about anything to as long as you’ve got the right base. Consequently a restaurant can offer you three types of korma, with minimal difference between them but for the ‘meat’, be it vegan, vegetarian or otherwise. I’ve been faffing around with different types of sauces for awhile now, but have stumbled across one that I really like. It’s very similar in two distinct English cook-books, so it’s doubtless an Anglicised recipe.

That said, it’s extremely delicious. 

What I’ll do here is outline how to make the sauce. Once you have the sauce, you can then ad pretty much whatever ‘meat’ you prefer. This is because the sauce needs about an hour of cooking after the initial preparation and cooking is done. Usually I make the full recipe, then freeze half the sauce for another day.

The final thing to note is that the outlay on spices is initially expensive. But, they last for ages and if you’re making this type of food regularly you’ll save money in the long run.

Right, we’re off!

In the photo above we have the main dried spice you’ll need. These are:

  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds (you can substitute caraway, fennel or dill if you prefer, I did)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cardamon seeds (or about 10 cardamon pods, opened)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon quill (or less than a teaspoon of cinnamon powder)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric.

Sound like a lot of spices? It is!

So the idea here is to roast all the whole spices. Don’t roast any of the powders unless you’re keen to, it’s not entirely necessary. The main intention is to dry out the seeds before you grind them. Don’t burn the seeds though, just heat them through to release the natural oils, and make then ‘pop’ a little. As you can see from the picture, the cinnamon has broken up and is long and fibrous. This will make it easier to grind.

Once the spices are roasted, tip them a little at a time into a mortar and pestle and grind them to a fine powder. Or, cheat and use your coffee grinder. If you have neither… then there might be trouble. You could probably add them to the curry as-is, but, it won’t be as extremely delicious.

Once this is done, set aside, the good news is that if you’d use it all, this spice mix will keep in an airtight container for ages.

Next start assembling the wet ingredients for the curry. You’ll need:

  • One peeled moderate-sized red onion
  • One washed bunch of fresh coriander
  • Two small, hot chillis, dried or otherwise
  • About 5cm of fresh ginger
  • 10 peeled cloves of garlic

All you need do here is roughly chop all these ingredients, the coriander roots and all, the ginger.

The red onion, and the crushed garlic.

As you chop them, add them to a food processor, along with the chilli, and then blend until the ingredients form a rough paste (NOT a smooth paste, because texture is good)

Once you’ve got the ground spices and the blended herbs, then you’re all set. All you’ll need from here is:

  • 50g of butter (clarified butter is best)
  • two tins of tomatoes
  • about a cup of stock, chicken, fish, vegetable, your choice.

Melt the butter in a stove-top casserole dish, then add the herbs

You want to lightly fry the herbs, just until they start to dry out a little. Give then about as long as it would take to soften onions. Then add the dried spices, and fry for a little longer to release the flavours.

This is the base of your curry sauce. But it needs a little more to flesh it out. Once it’s sufficiently dry, add the stock, and stir in.

Go ahead and add the tomatoes, and the stir in.

Bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer. Then, transfer to the oven for an hour and a half.

Then, you’re set. Once you’ve made the sauce you can add whatever you like, starches like potatoes or kumara, pan-browned meats like lamb or chicken, or any other ingredient. Just cook for another hour with the main ingredient in there, and then you’re away.