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What is the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries [poll]?

General chat about British Indian Restaurant curries

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What's the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries?

1. There is no "secret", all the information is available, it just needs to be put together properly
22
40%
2. The "secret" is in the spice mix, we need a better spice mix
6
11%
3. The "secret" is in the curry base, we need a better curry base
4
7%
4. The "secret" is in missing ingredients which we are currently unaware of
1
2%
5. The "secret" is in the high output burners that BIRs use
5
9%
6. The "secret" is in the technique, we need a better technique
11
20%
7. The "secret" is in missing techniques which we currently unaware of
1
2%
8. The "secret" is in all of the above
4
7%
9. The "secret" is in something else (please elaborate below)
1
2%
 
Total votes: 55

Masterosouffle
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Re: Is the secret in the base...........?

Post by Masterosouffle » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:03 am

The other thing to consider is; do you think they weigh / measure out their base gravy ingredients daily, or are the doing by eye? I know which I think, and by the time you scale down the recipes to domestic sizes those daily little variences would have the potential to be quite substantial over time. I'm a chef and over the years have cooked hundreds of thousands of dishes, many 'the same' now if I gave you some red wine sauce now and some 5 days / weeks / years ago they would taste the same. Now side by side they may have little variences, but when I'm making a big pot of stock that will be reduced down and turned into the finished sauce do you think I'm weighing onions, measuring the wine etc? No, a good solid base is all that is required...

haldi
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Re: Is the secret in the base...........?

Post by haldi » Fri Oct 30, 2015 8:30 am

This is a very interesting thread
A couple of things I have seen at one of my local takeaway

Firstly
Due to hard times, they have made a few cut backs
One is pre cooking the chicken in just boiling water
This surprisingly, has no noticable impact on the finished curry
It tastes the same and it's fine

Secondly
They can sell a seperate curry sauce, and it tastes great
So they are creating the BIR magic without an added precook ingredient

Thirdly
I have helped them pre cook the vegetables
After they are cooked they have the "taste" I love
So what goes into this, can create the BIR flavour
The vegetables are pretty much cooked in their own steam, in a big, lidded, pot
The ingredients?
Used fryer oil, pre fried tomato puree, garlic ginger, spice mix, turmeric, salt, a little water and vegetables (not potato)
The vegetables are added in longest to cook order

I am no closer to achieving the BIR magic, than I was 10 years ago
That's because I'm missing a very important ingredient, that I can't make at home
The "used" oil

In my opinion, BIR curries have a very subtle flavour, carried by this oil, which just about everything has been cooked in
It can't be made by just cooking a few bhajees or samosas in

I managed to get some of this oil, a long time ago
I made 100% BIR curries using it

pauly
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Re: Is the secret in the base...........?

Post by pauly » Fri Oct 30, 2015 10:44 am

I completely agree with you haldi, using this used oil would hardly be happily divulged, if it doesn't breach health regs, it doesn't reflect well, but it sure would have a lot of flavour.

Mick Crawford, in his e book says , they often use oil that has had onion bhaji's cooked in. & I don't mean twenty or thirty.

When you say your local is cooking their chicken in just boiling water, do you mean just that, no added spices or anything else ?

haldi
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Re: Is the secret in the base...........?

Post by haldi » Fri Oct 30, 2015 5:10 pm

Hi Pauly

yes they just chop the chicken and cook it in boiling water
no other ingredients, not even salt

they used to make a spicy onion fry, then add water to that, then add the raw chicken and simmer

I can't tell the difference doing it the "cheap" way, and I am fairly picky

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MonsieurBadgerCheese
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Re: Is the secret in the base...........?

Post by MonsieurBadgerCheese » Fri Oct 30, 2015 11:02 pm

Bonsoir,

As usual, I will start by saying that I think there is no missing ingredient, no secret, no missing percentage, no 'BIR magic', and no difference between what we can produce versus the BIRs.

With reference to 'used oil', 'flavoured oil', 'infused oil', or any other kind of oil;

Yes, I believe that generically flavoured oil could make a subtle difference to the taste of a (mild to medium) curry.

Yes, I believe that oil that has cooked 'hundreds of bhagees' could make a subtle difference.

But still no magic.

My compromise;

I have a deep-fat fryer - dedicated to BIR use. I use it for Bhajees, pakora, anything else BIR. When I make a curry, I use this oil to start the process. Then I top it up, and it's a rolling-process.

This will never be as good as a commercial operation. It will always be slightly better than brand new veg oil. It will always produce a subtle difference, yet it will never produce 'BIR Magic', because there is no such thing. In my opinion.

MBC :):

rshome123
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Re: Is the secret in the base...........?

Post by rshome123 » Fri Oct 30, 2015 11:12 pm

No such thing as a magic ingredient MBC, just magic technique eh ? ;)

I agree about 'seasoned' oil adding something, there's no doubt about it. I know how flavoursome it can be, and it is mainly impractical to create at home. The exception being doing what Mr Cheese does and eventually getting flavoursome oil, or recovering bit by bit the excess oil from many curries, and some of the oil floating on top of the base gravy.

For us cooking at home in small quantities, of course, the easiest and best way is to fry hard and caramelise the base gravy, pushing the envelope but not burning the sauce.

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Re: What is the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries [poll]?

Post by emptyplate » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:15 am

1 & 6 for me, funny as not really sure when I started this thread that my point about following a recipe through from start to finish came across that clearly - i.e. using just 1 recipe hence base/spice mix/cooked meats/oil all were from one method/recipe.

Which to my mind comes clearly down to technique rather than secrets, as everything is a fine balance of flavours all matched together.

Some really interesting stuff - Haldi for sure you are on the button with oil, whilst obtaining seasoned oil is a problem I still feel you can go some way to replicating it at home (see my recent findings below) and IMHO it does hold the key to unlocking that taste.

So what I do now is to make 30/40 onion bhjee's once every 3 months with 3 lts of fresh veg oil, filter it off and store it in the fridge for use when cooking main dishes – ok nothing new there!!!

However over the past few month's as stated I've revisited some old school techniques 1 being pre cooking chicken Bengali style – so lots of residual oil that's saturated with hard spices/mix powder/fried onions/tomatoes/garlic and ginger see piccy

Simply, strain off the oil from the pre cooked chicken and mix it with bhjee oil – ok elves and safety I only mix ½ ltr at a time and keep them seperate. The bhjee oil will keep in the fridge for 3 months, however as I now pre cook chicken once a week I simpley mix them together for that week and the results are well worth the effort. :o
Attachments
DSC_0346.JPG
Pre cooked chicken liquor

haldi
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Re: What is the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries [poll]?

Post by haldi » Sat Oct 31, 2015 9:00 am

Hi Empty Plate
that oil sounds interesting
It drives me bit mad that it's so hard to achieve the curry flavour, I'm after
I can cook samosas, onion bhajees, rice, naans and enjoy them the same day
they taste proffesional
but even if you have got close with the gravy, it doesn't taste right on the day of cooking
it's cooking blind
I have come back to a frozen curry or one that's been left in the fridge for a couple of days
Sometimes, I'm impressed and other times not
Very hard to know how good your result is at the time
and therefore almost impossible to tinker with the flavour
I've been thinking of trying a full sized version of the Viceroy recipes:



I made his scaled down curry gravy version before, and that was ok
Maybe over the Christmas break I'll give it a go
He's got an interesting Madras to go with it:



all his curries look great
I would love to try them, but he's 120 miles away
I believe this is the address
20 High St, Abbots Langley WD5 0AR, UK

I never thought I would still be chasing this after so many years

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Cory Ander
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Re: What is the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries [poll]?

Post by Cory Ander » Sat Oct 31, 2015 11:11 am

Why Viceroy, Haldi? No disrespect, but It seems to me that their recipes appear (to me) to be second rate (and look to me like they are probably sourced from curry forums)? Just saying. I reckon it may be worth while making a full-scale BIR curry base (and replenish it, as BIRs will undoubtedly do), but I'd personally look elsewhere for my curry base inspiration.

PS: Didn't I read, somewhere, that they've quite recently closed (maybe I was dreaming?)?
Please make an effort to make at least 1 meaningful post each time you visit the forum

Regards

CA (aka Admin) :)

pauly
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Re: What is the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries [poll]?

Post by pauly » Sat Oct 31, 2015 12:55 pm

According to Trip Advisor, the Viceroy Brasserie has closed, under new management & is now the Noor Mahal.

arthurdaley
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Re: What is the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries [poll]?

Post by arthurdaley » Thu May 18, 2017 1:17 pm

I used to eat there a lot and was gutted when they closed. There was another restaurant in Watford called Dine India which served the best curry I have ever experienced. Alas they closed a few years ago when they lost their chef and it went downhill fast! I used to speak to the owners a lot and they admitted the sucess of any indian restaurant was having the best chefs and they had to bring them over from India.

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Re: What is the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries [poll]?

Post by Phil » Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:49 am

It's a fascinating search ... I had two restaurants in Edinburgh ... Mamma's Pizza ... and Pappas ... and the chili we served was the result of years of pure love to find the right ingredients and the right prep ... and that chili was about the best I ever tasted ... without overly careful measuring and weighing ... so now I have embarked on the great curry chase ... and I have to start with CA's precise mix ... so that I can establish a knowledge base on which to work ... and that is what is so great about this website ... a lot of dedicated crazies trying to fine THE WAY ... and sharing it ... so very happy to have this in my back pocket ... thank all of you ... curry on.

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Re: What is the "Secret" to Replicating BIR Curries [poll]?

Post by Lakie » Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:52 am

Gravedug with permission of CA.

Was interested in seeing all this said in recipes and discussions about the 'one special thing', 'close but no cigar' or whatever. So, being on good terms with my TA I outright asked.

Got a simple answer. He says that TAs tend to use production spices etc (on the whole) to make their curries, however that each chef will make their own 'finishing' Garam Masala fresh. This means TAs generate that 'comfortably familiar yet different enough' recipes across restaurants.

I know there are people here in the industry etc that will have an opinion, just putting out there what one guy said. Food for thought I suppose.

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