The complex, full-bodied flavours of curries are governed by three main things: onion, ginger and garlic did just right and generous use of spices. Let’s take a better look at the three main principles of great curry-making:
1- Be generous with your spices. Spices not only bring a ton of flavour to your dish but lots of texture too. So make sure you spoon in those spices with a freer hand when you prepare a curry dish.
2- Decide on how you’re going to cook your onion, ginger and garlic. These three main ingredients provide the deep, rich base of flavours to most curries, equivalent to the onion, carrot and celery combination in French cooking traditions. Soften them without colouring for a lighter curry and cook them for longer until it caramelises for something richer and darker.
3- Decide what ingredients are going to give the gravy of your curry its body. This will typically be one or a combination of the following – tomatoes, pureed peppers of chillies, yoghurt, curd or cream, coconut milk, curry leaves, or finely diced or pureed onions.
With these three principles in mind when cooking, preparing curry will become a breeze and something you’d love doing. With these tips, you can also be free to improvise until you become a master of curry making.
Now that we’ve seen the three main principles of cooking curry of any sort, be it chicken, beef, mutton or even vegetables, let’s take a look at this simple chicken and red pepper curry recipe that is perfect for fans of Sri Lankan food recipes.
Chicken and red pepper curry
Fiery hot and packed with flavours we Asians love, this simple and easy-to-prepare chicken curry recipe is perfect for fans of Sri Lankan chicken curry recipes.
Total cook time: 45 minutes
For the red pepper paste
- 2 red peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- A thumb-sized piece of ginger, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 70g flaked almonds
- A pinch of cayenne
- If you want it extra spicy, include dried chilli flakes, red chillies and smoked paprika according to taste.
For the curry
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut into chunks
- 300ml chicken stock
- ½ lemon, juiced
- Salt and pepper, according to taste
- Fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- To prepare the red pepper paste, place all the paste ingredients with a pinch of salt in a food processor or grinder and grind until you have a smooth paste.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or shallow frying pan until the oil has heated. Into the hot oil, tip in the paste and fry over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- To this, add the chicken pieces, season well and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over in the paste to coat well. Add enough stock to make a thick gravy and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer with the pan uncovered for another 15 minutes.
- Finish off by adding in the lemon juice. Check for seasoning and sprinkle chopped coriander leaves to garnish. Serve hot with hot steaming rice.
The red pepper sauce makes a great base for a vegetable curry too. Fry the paste and cook your choice of vegetables like in the recipe. You can choose anything from sweet potatoes to cauliflower.
Spicy tomato curry sauce
- 2 medium sized onions, roughly chopped
- 1 piece of ginger, peeled
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1½ tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- Salt, to taste
- A small pinch of asafoetida (optional)
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- First wash, then grind, blend, chop or grate the onions, ginger and garlic.
- Next, heat the oil in a pan and once the oil has heated, add the cumin and asafoetida powder. Allow the seeds to splutter.
- Then, add the chopped onion, ginger and garlic and fry until golden or medium to dark-brown. Do not burn it.
- To this, add all the powdered spices except the garam masala and stir for about 10 seconds to release the flavours. Then add chopped tomatoes and stir-fry until the oil starts to separate from the rest of the ingredients.
- Stir the garam masala, then the chillies and salt to taste. Remember, this curry sauce has to be added to the main curry ingredients, so it has to be stronger at this state than a finished curry.
- Finish off with a drizzle of lemon juice, a sprinkle of garam masala and some chopped coriander leaves
This sauce can be cooled and stored in the fridge or freezer before adding the lemon juice and coriander leaves. Simply stir fry the meat or vegetables you want in your curry and then add this sauce with a little water if necessary when cooking it.