I can't tell you how easy it is to make your own curries from scratch. Well I can. It's easy. I reviewed Anjum Anand's I Love Curry last year, and since then I haven't bought a jar of curry sauce or paste - just stocked up on a few extra spices in the cupboard.
It's worth the extra preliminary shopping, because you'll make these curries again and again and always have the stuff to hand! But how long did it take? And did the kids like it? Here's how I got on making Anjum Anand's Lamb Do Piaza ...
Ease & Ingredients
Let's admit it, if you're going to start making your own curries from scratch, you're probably going to have to update your spice rack a bit. Out went ready-made curry powders and in came ground coriander, cloves, ground cumin, garam masala and turmeric. I also needed paprika, chilli powder, black peppercorns, sticks of cinnamon and cardamom pods - all bought from the supermarket. Everything else was easily sourced - tomatoes, natural yoghurt, ginger, coriander leaves, onions and garlic. I have to admit that I keep squeezy tubes of coriander and ginger in the fridge, which means they are always on hand - and I always have a vampire-repelling supply of garlic in the cupboard anyway.
You fry the whole spices in a bit of oil and then throw in the onions. The first time I made this I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn't properly brown the onions, just softened them - and I have to say that it is worth browning them quite a bit for the finished flavour and colour of the dish. It makes a big difference. Then - you throw in your diced lamb followed by the rest of the ingredients including yoghurt and tomatoes. The recipe stated to grind the tomatoes down into a paste but I have to admit I didn't do that - just chopped them up and added them in! The curry worked fine, but if you want to be authentic then please go ahead and grind them! Oh and don't be tempted to use tinned tomatoes - it's the sour taste of fresh tomatoes and not their sweetness that makes them work so well in this dish.
I made this after picking up my eldest from school - coats off, bags down and then ten minutes tinkering in the kitchen. The great thing about this is that after you've chopped, sizzled and stirred the curry takes about 40-50 minutes to cook, leaving you to clear up and then sit back down and ask your little ones about their day. The finished result was really aromatic and not spicy at all, although if you like spice you can always add more chilli powder. A splash of lemon juice is also added at the end of cooking and transforms the entire taste of the curry. The children loved it - my five year old finished hers and asked for more (who said children don't like strong flavours?!) and my two year old - well there was no stopping her, as she mopped up hers with Anjum's Instant Naan. It does involve a bit of extra shopping - at least to begin with - but don't let that put you off. It tasted miles better than any jar of curry sauce - more complex in flavour and less sweet. A winner!
Have you tried this dish? Do you make your own curries from scratch? How do you find home-cooked curries compare to ready-prepared jars of curry sauce?
Anjum Anand's I Love Curry is published by Quadrille - and the Lamb Do Piaza can be found on page 126.