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Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

A "Quick Start" for members new to BIR style curry cooking - basic techniques and simple recipes to get you started on your BIR-style curry cooking adventures.
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Cory Ander
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Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Cory Ander » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:49 am

The following is an extract from our e-Book:

Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Curry Cooking Process:

The sequence of adding ingredients varies, depending on the chef, but the following sequence is typical of that found in many BIR kitchens. In a BIR, these stages follow each other, in relatively quick succession, with the whole process generally taking less than about 10 minutes. Each stage may take longer on a domestic hob. Here, a variation of a Chicken Vindaloo (enough for two modest servings) has been made to illustrate all stages that might typically be used when making a BIR curry:

The ingredients are (clockwise, from the top left):
Ingredients.jpg
Ingredients
  • 300ml of curry base
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste (diluted with 5 tbsp of water to make a runny puree)
  • 2 heaped tsp of spice mix + 1 heaped tsp of commercial curry paste + 4 heaped tsp of chilli powder + pinch of milled black peppercorn + 0.33 tsp of salt + 1 tsp of dried fenugreek leaves (crumbled)
  • 1 tbsp of garlic puree + 1 tsp of ginger puree
  • 1 tbsp of finely diced onions + 1 tbsp of finely diced green capsicum
  • Small piece of cassia bark + 2 green cardamom pods + 0.5 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 100ml of sunflower oil
  • 200g of precooked chicken (centre)
1. Heat the pan (here, the largest burner on a domestic hob and an aluminium pan of 28cm diameter were used)
Domestic Gas Burner 2.jpg
Domestic Gas Burner
28cm Diameter Pan.jpg
28cm Diameter Aluminium Pan
2. Add the oil to the heated pan and heat until almost smoking

3. Reduce the heat and add the whole spices (if using) and fry them, with frequent stirring, until they are sizzling. Take care not to burn them If you smell them burning, remove the pan from the heat and move quickly to the next stage
Cooking the Whole Spices.jpg
Cooking the Whole Spices
4. Add the onions and green capsicum (if using) and fry them, with frequent stirring, taking care not to burn them. If they start to burn, remove the pan from the heat and move quickly to the next stage
Cooking the Onions & Pepper.jpg
Cooking the Onions & Capsicum
5. Add the garlic/ginger paste and fry it, with frequent stirring, taking care not to burn it - it should be no more than golden in colour. If it starts to burn, remove the pan from the heat and move quickly to the next stage
Cooking Garlic & Ginger.jpg
Cooking the Garlic & Ginger
6. Add the powdered spices (or a paste of the powdered spices in water, or tomato puree, if you prefer), and fry them, with frequent stirring, taking care not to burn them
Cooking Spice Mixture.jpg
Cooking the Spices
7. Add the tomato puree and continue to fry, with frequent stirring, until it reduces and the oil begins to separate from the mixture. At this stage, the spices should be cooked
Cooking Until Oil Separates.jpg
Cooking Until the Oil Separates
8. Add the precooked main ingredients (e.g. chicken, lamb, beef and/or vegetables) and stir to coat the ingredients with the mixture
Adding Main Ingredients.jpg
Adding the Precooked Main Ingredients
9. Add a little of the curry base (e.g. 60ml or so) and continue to cook, with frequent stirring, and reduce the mixture until the oil separates
Reducing Base 2.jpg
Adding & Reducing the Curry Base
10. Add more curry base, a little at a time, taking care not to reduce the temperature of the pan too much with each addition. Continue to cook, with frequent stirring, until all of the curry base has been added
All Curry Base Added.jpg
Adding More Curry Base a Little at a Time
11. Leave the curry bubbling and simmering, stirring only occasionally, until the oil begins to separate (you want the contents to start caramelising around the edges of the pan and to stir these back into the curry)
Simmer until Oil Separates.jpg
Simmer & Reduce Until Oil Separates
12. You can now add any other ingredients you wish to add (in this case, a pinch of All Purpose Seasoning, a pinch of Garam Masala, about 1 tbsp of vinegar, about 1 tsp of sugar and about 2 tbsp of the precooked chicken stock were added). Continue to cook, with occasional stirring until the sauce is of the desired consistency (adding a little more curry base or water if the sauce becomes too thick)

13. That’s it! You’re done! Serve and enjoy!
Chicken Vindaloo (finished 2).jpg
Finished Chicken Vindaloo
During the early stages of frying the spices (i.e. up to stage 7) you are trying to cook the spices to extract their essential oils and flavour and to cook the rawness out of them. It is important that there is sufficient liquid to keep things reasonably fluid, but not too fluid. Otherwise things will start to burn. If the mixture becomes too thick (and/or starts to burn) add a little curry base. The mixture should be reduced to a fairly thick paste until the oil separates. This is an indication that the spices are cooked sufficiently. These are important stages so take your time over them. Do this well and your kitchen will smell like a BIR! Do it poorly and your curry will be lacklustre.

During the later stages of reducing the curry base (i.e. stage 8 and beyond) you are trying to caramelise the ingredients to extract flavour and body from them. Caramelised ingredients should be evident, as a crust, around the outside of the pan. There may also be some caramelisation happening on the bottom of the pan. This is the “good stuff”! Only occasional stirring and scraping is required to stir the caramelised ingredients back into the sauce. Again, the sauce should be simmered until it is of the desired consistency and the oil begins to separate.

As a final note, it is advisable to prepare all of your ingredients, beforehand, and arrange them in the sequence in which you will add them.
Regards

CA (aka Admin) :)

Boomer

Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Boomer » Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:55 pm

This has opened my eyes, starting tomorrow , shelves stocked.

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Cory Ander » Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:56 am

Good stuff, Boomer, please let us know how you get on.... 8-)
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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by bonscott100 » Fri May 06, 2016 12:19 pm

Wow that looks amazing will defo try that Rob.

roger23862002

Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by roger23862002 » Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:03 pm

i never thought all the curries ive had all start with a simple base

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Greybeard » Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:11 pm

That is one of the "secrets" :shutup: , it was a revelation to me too ...
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by annaroblottie » Sat Aug 27, 2016 4:37 pm

i hadnt realised they started this way - no wonder the home cooked ones ive tried making previously taste nothing like i want them too - will be giving this a go

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by MaTTo92 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:23 am

Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Whiskeyjoe » Sat Sep 03, 2016 10:10 am

Very interesting dish, looks good , going to give it a try , thanks

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by yumsome » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:24 pm

This is really cool, thank you. :thumbup:

I expected the technique to be a lot different to how I learned to cook in India but apart from the curry base, it's more or less the same. I'm now going to go and check out what the curry base(s) looks like!

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Garam » Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:48 pm

This is excellent for someone starting out on the BIR journey. I am pretty much with this sequence except I tend to add the tomato puree (diluted) before the spice powder. I find it gives a little more leeway to stop you burning the spices. I doubt it would alter the end result.

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by bobglen » Fri Sep 23, 2016 6:15 am

Looks good.
It's all about that base, bout that base
.... Ok i will get my coat :smart:

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by stokesy » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:23 pm

Hmmmm. looks very nice. will have to get myself geared up to have a go soon. :-)

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by natalie » Sun Sep 25, 2016 4:16 am

I think I will use this base as my first attempt at BIR. Now to find an Aluminium pan from the shops. Is 28cm the best size for doing final dishes from a base BIR recipe? Typically I feed 4 people at a time so hoping will be big enough

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Cory Ander » Sun Sep 25, 2016 9:48 am

Suggest you check out the Pans/Pots/Spoons section of the forum, Natalie, particularly theCurry Pans and Chef's Spoonsthread....plenty of discussions on what pans to use there. Please also refer to the Frequently Asked Questions thread.
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CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Matt » Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:22 pm

This base curry is what I have been using upto now with great results..
:yahoo:

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Cory Ander » Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:26 pm

Which curry base is that, please, Matt? :hmmm:
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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by devilman » Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:49 am

no wonder my attempts to make a an indian curry have failed this is a real eye opener

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by Marcopolo » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:32 am

I have made a few dishes using BIR forum recipes and only now start to see how the process works. Preparation is key and dont be afraid to get the heat up and give it enough time during the reduction process. It is amazing what can be turned out in a mere 10 minutes :)

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Re: Typical British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Cooking Process

Post by ShaneTexAvery » Thu Oct 20, 2016 4:08 pm

I must admit I do not do my curries this way but am really excited about trying your sequence of ingredients. The finished curry looks great

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