If you think of Indian cuisine, chances are the first dish that springs to mind is one of the fabulous curries authentic to the region.
These aromatic, flavourful dishes come in a range of styles from sweet and creamy to suit those looking for a mild flavour to fiery sauces for those who relish the heat.
What is a curry?
According to Chef Jainal, head chef at Belfast’s newest Indian/Italian fusion restaurant “curry originates from the Indian subcontinent and is typically meat or vegetables cooked in a sauce flavoured with a combination of spices and herbs”.
The blend of spices varies across India, with as little as five or as many as thirty combined to achieve the perfect flavour.
“Curry dishes can be classified into two types; wet and dry,” said Chef Jainal.
“Dry ones are cooked with very little water, and any liquid added will evaporate while cooking leaving an even coating of the dry gravy on the vegetables or meat.
“Wet curries usually have a sauce and be served with rice, bread or chapatti to soak it up.”
What are the most popular curries?
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala is possibly the most well-known of curries in Indian cuisine. Preparation of the dish is simple yet has to be done with utmost care. Skinless chicken has to be marinated in a spice, yoghurt and salt mix and will be left to blend for an hour or more. Once that’s done the chicken will be roasted in a clay oven commonly called as Tandoor until it’s mostly cooked.
Chef Jainal explained: “The curry base is made with a blend of spices and salt along with onion, garlic, and ground cumin, roasted in butter and heavy cream added in last to give the dish its signature thick consistency. Fresh coriander is sprinkled over the curry as a tasty garnish.”
This is a classic dish that’s easy to make. Slow cooked chicken that falls from the bone coated in a sauce rich with tomatoes, spices and butter, finished with cream.
Butter chicken is said to have originated in Peshwar, but in 1947, after the partition, the dish journeyed into India and beyond.
Mutton Rogan Josh
A slow-cooked Kashmiri delight made with a blend of spices, Rogan Josh has a light, aromatic gravy that’s easy to make and usually served with chapatti, rice, naan, or sheermal.
Spices such as asafetida, cinnamon, cumin seeds, cardamom chilies, and peppercorns are roasted in a large pan, followed by mutton or an alternative meat. After 10 minutes on a medium heat, the sauce is seasoned with salt and more liquid added and simmered until the meat is soft. The curry is finished off with yoghurt, over a low heat, and some add garam masala powder, almond paste, grated khoya and kewra water for more flavor.
Vada ia a mouth-watering dish which originated in southern India. Chana dal (split chickpeas) are soaked in water for 3-4 hours and then ground with fennel seeds, garlic cloves, ginger, green chili, and salt. The ground mixture is then taken in small proportions, flattened with fingers and deep-fried in oil. Often in southern India, the mixture would be dropped into the hot oil, without being flattened and cooked until crisp.
Chef Jainal said: “For the curry base chopped onion, ginger, garlic paste, and curry leaves are sautéed in oil until lightly browned. Tomatoes and spices will be added along with ground coconut paste and seasoned to taste. Finally, the fried Vada mixture is added to the curry sauce and cook for 5 minutes.”
Korma is rich, heavily scented curry which is easy to make. Meat should be marinated in spices for a few hours before cooking in a cast iron pan, until cooked through.
For the sauce, onion and garlic is blended with water into a puree before being cooked in hot oil for 2-3 minutes. Tomatoes and the spice mixture, which includes garam masala, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, and coriander, and added with a sliced green chili, coconut milk, and yoghurt, and simmered for 30 minutes.
An authentic chicken vindaloo is a fiery curry made by dry roasting dried chilies, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds in a pan and blending them with ginger, garlic and tamarind paste with a little water.
Onion is then cooked in oil, followed by the meat until cooked through, and then the paste is added with tomato puree and salt to taste.
Mumbai Milano, 11 Wellington Place, Belfast is open 7 days a week. Lunchtime is an all-you-can eat buffet every day and their a la carte menu is available from 5pm. Book your table by calling 028 9031 1101 or log onto mumbaimilano.co.uk for more information.