Well, it took longer than I thought to get round to this, end of term is a busy time.
Anyhoo, there's a fairly open secret about Indian restaurants.
It's not true of them all, especially the most expensive, innovative, or authentic.
But in about 95% of UK Indians, and every one I've been in so far in the US it is.
The bigger the menu the more you can be sure that this is true:
Out there in the kitchen is a big vat of bubbling goo. It smells good, it's made fresh every day (it's the first thing the staff do when they arrive) and it's the basis of most of the dishes that the restaurant serves. A large batch of lamb and chicken is cooked up, and depending on what you order, extra spices or other ingredients wil be added to the base along with the protein. If fish is involved, it may not be pre-cooked, if prawn/shrimp is involved, it may even be bought pre-cooked.
Those who are not used to spicy food will find the base interesting enough in itslef. I'll tell you about the way to turn it into different standard dishes later.
Meanwhile I suggest you make a big batch, and then freeze it in portions of about 3 cups size which will provide the sauce for a dish for 4.
Here's the way I make my bubbly goo- each restaurant has their own version, some very different from this.
INcidentally the restaurant will probably call this a "Masala gravy". It won't matter too much if you can't get all the spices or if you substitute here and there.
"Goo for curries" recipe.
First, grind (or buy ready ground)
1 ounce each of coriander seed, and cumin seed,and fenugreek seed.
and mix them with an ounce each of paprika, turmeric and garlic powder,
a teaspoon each of chili powder, ground cinnamon and powdered ginger, a tablespoon of dried mint, two finely-chopped bay leaves and a generous helping of fresh-ground black pepper.
Add a littel peanut, sunflower, or canola/rape oil to make a paste, and fry for about a minute.
Now make or buy 4 ounces of ghee and heat it high, though you shouldn't burn it.
(If you have a wok, that's the ideal vessel for cooking this up)
Finely chop two whole bulbs of garlic (removing the "paper" and stalk first) and add it to the hot ghee.
Gently stir it for around a minute, until the garlic glistens. Then turn the heat right down.
Add about 2 ounces of ginger, very finely chopped, and about 2 pounds of big yellow onions, peeled and very finely chopped.
Stir this lot from time to time for about ten minutes, the whole lot should caramelise and be faintly brown.
Add the paste you just fried and about 20 fluid ounces of water. Stir well.
The goo should have the consisitency of a very thick soup, like say lentil soup, or say like a thin porridge.
If it is lumpy, blend it in a blender of with a hand-held.
You're done! Pot it, freeze it, store it.
"Happiness lies in being privileged to work hard for long hours in doing whatever you think is worth doing. ." R.A.H.