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Fresh Curry Versus Ready-Made Products

Feb 25, 2008
Being a South Asian British born Bangladeshi woman, I was taught how to cook popular Bengali and Indian cuisines from scratch - I believe this maybe the reason why I am no longer fond of eating curry at restaurants even if they have been made from fresh food ingredients. True to my heart is the belief that no curry can be as tasty and well prepared than my own mothers! As she was born and raised in Bangladesh, she never knew how to use fancy cooking tools except a knife, wooden spoon and a pan.

Cooking a curry is not as simple as it is made available today in supermarkets, with ready-made jars of Rogan Josh and Madras sauces that need to be added to cooked meats. I am accustomed to eating curries made from fresh food; I find these fast food cuisines to be a little too tasteless for my taste buds! However, I do believe they are a great way to maintain a cultural perspective on good food.

Cooking curries are all about being passionate about the smell of spices, creating unique colours, tickling the taste buds with different spice sensations and most importantly of all turning fresh food ingredients into a gourmet masterpiece. When cooking any curry, my mother had taught me to use my instincts and to cook from the heart as if you are creating your own artistic masterpiece. Cooking a curry does take a bit of time, depending on what you are cooking, you need to be extra patient with waiting for things to cook properly.

Using fresh ingredients and grinding up your own spice could not be more satisfying. Using fresh chillies, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, ginger and garlic to produce a purely mouth-watering dish is unbeatable and once tasted in its true nothing else will compare. Traditionally Indian dishes are meant to be a little dryer than what they are in the UK, this of course depends upon what region the dish originates from, but sauces are usually only a third of what most restaurants offer. Good quality curries are those that are made from fresh ingredients.

I have seen dishes almost drowning in tomato like sauces that are unnecessary. The key thing to remember is how well you cook the spices and onions before adding all the other ingredients. Take chicken curry for example, the base of the dish needs to be cooked for at least 30-40 minutes on a medium to low gas level, making sure all of the onions have softened and browned in the oil (almost as if they are melting). Whilst softening add a few bay leaves, salt, cardamom seeds and a stick of cinnamon to give it a nice aroma.

Then add the spices one at a time making sure you do not use too much turmeric. Cook and simmer through gently, this process should take at least 30 minutes and try not burn anything - a little tip if you find the base is starting to stick to the pan, turn the heat down a little and add some water (about half a cup full) and continue stirring for a bit. It is best to leave it and come back to it every 4 minutes or as frequently as you can. Taste it before adding the chicken, what you taste for is no grainy consistency in the sauce, enough salt content and all of the spices tasting like they have melded well together.

Cooking the chicken curry will take at least an hour or an hour and a half, depending on how much you make. The idea is that you do not have to do any marinating beforehand and cooking at this length of time with help achieve the soft spicy chicken texture in the curry. Taking the time to cook anything does indeed take a lot of patience and effort, but the result is always much more satisfying. Using fresh food is necessary for enjoying curry, for me nothing else compares and each dish can be frozen for up to five days or more, if you prefer to cook in bulk and eat later.
About the Author
Anna Stenning always uses fresh food ingredients to cook her curries. For more information food supplies visit http://www.freshfoodgroup.com/
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