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CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Recipes for curry bases
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Having tried this recipe, how would you rate it (on a scale of 1 to 5)?

1. Very Poor (I would prefer a curry out of a jar)
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No votes
2. Poor (worse than most British Indian Restaurants)
1
1%
3. Good (as good as many British Indian Restaurants)
24
30%
4. Very Good (better than most British Indian Restaurants)
20
25%
5. Excellent (up there with the best British Indian Restaurants)
36
44%
 
Total votes: 81

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Cory Ander
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CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Cory Ander » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:50 am

Background:

Here is my most recent Curry Base that I use as standard. It contains several iterations of my curry base recipe that I posted, elsewhere, several years ago.

It makes about 6 litres of curry base, which is sufficient for about 17-24 curries.

I find that 300ml of curry base is sufficient to make a curry that serves 1 to 2 people (1 being very greedy and 2 being reasonably modest!).

I have provided two different methods of preparation. I'd be interested to hear which you think gives the best results?

Ingredients:
  • 1600g brown onions (peeled & quartered)
  • 100g potatoes (peeled & quartered)
  • 100g fresh garlic (peeled & pureed) - here
  • 50g fresh ginger (peeled & pureed) - here
  • 80g tomato paste (double concentrated)
  • 100g fresh tomatoes (quartered)
  • 100g carrots (peeled & chopped)
  • 100g green capsicum (de-seeded & chopped)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 level tbsp salt
  • 400ml vegetable oil
  • 2.75 litres water
  • 3 heaped tbsp spice mix - here
  • 60g coriander roots
  • 100ml evaporated milk
Method 1:

Stage 1:
  • Put onions, potatoes, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, carrots, green capsicum, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt and oil into a suitably sized stock pot/pan (of not less than 7 litres capacity) and mix
  • Cover and very gently simmer, on a very low heat, for about 60 - 90 minutes (depending on how gently you simmer), until the vegetables have reduced and the liquid reaches the top of the vegetables. Stir, occasionally, to ensure that the ingredients do not burn on the bottom of the pan
Ingredients.jpg
stage 1.jpg
Stage 2:
  • Add the water, cover, bring to a rolling simmer, and simmer, for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are soft. Stir, occasionally, to ensure that the ingredients do not burn on the bottom of the pan
stage 2.jpg
Stage 3:
  • Add spice mix, cover and gently simmer for about 30 minutes, until the oil begins to separate. Stir, occasionally, to ensure that the ingredients do not burn on the bottom of the pan
stage 3.jpg
Stage 4:
  • Remove from heat
  • Add coriander roots and evaporated milk
  • Allow to cool
stage 4.jpg
Stage 5:
  • Blend, as finely as possible (I use a jug blender and blitz it, on full, for about a minute per batch. Only half fill it or you'll end up with a mess everywhere!)
  • Sieve if desired (though not necessary if blended sufficiently finely)
stage 5a.jpg
stage 5b.jpg
stage 5c.jpg
Method 2:

Stage 1:
  • Put onions, potatoes, fresh tomatoes, carrots, green capsicum, salt and 250ml of oil into a suitably sized stock pot/pan (of not less than 7 litres capacity) and mix
  • Cover and very gently simmer, on a very low heat, for about 60 - 90 minutes (depending on how gently you simmer), until the vegetables have reduce and the liquid reaches the top of the vegetables. Stir, occasionally, to ensure that the ingredients do not burn on the bottom of the pan
Stage 2:
  • Add the water, cover, bring to a rolling simmer, and simmer, for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are soft. Stir, occasionally, to ensure that the ingredients do not burn on the bottom of the pan
Stage 3:
  • Heat the remaining 150ml of oil in a suitable pan
  • Add the coriander and cumin seeds and sizzle, with occasional stirring, for 2 minutes
  • Add the garlic and ginger pastes and continue to cook for 2 minutes, with occasional stirring (without burning)
  • Add the spice mix continue to cook, stirring and scraping, for about 1 minute, until the oil begins to separate
  • Add the tomato purée (diluted with about 100ml of water) and continue to cook, stirring and scraping, for about 2 minutes, until the oil begins to separate
  • Pour the mixture into the curry base (from stage 2), cover and gently simmer for about 30 minutes, until the oil begins to separate. Stir, occasionally, to ensure that the ingredients do not burn on the bottom of the pan
Stage 4:
  • Remove from heat
  • Add coriander roots and evaporated milk
  • Allow to cool
Stage 5:
  • Blend, as finely as possible (I use a jug blender and blitz it, on full, for about a minute per batch. Only half fill it or you'll end up with a mess everywhere!)
  • Sieve if desired (though not necessary if blended sufficiently finely)
Notes:
  • The curry base should resemble the consistency of a thin soup
  • Cooking times can be extended to increase sweetness (particularly stage 1)
  • Cooking times can be reduced by simmering more vigorously, though some sweetness will be lost by doing so
  • Any other spice mix, curry powder, or individual spices can be used, but the result will undoubtedly be different
  • The curry base can be put into suitable sealable containers (e.g. 300ml portions) and frozen. Otherwise, it should be refrigerated and used within 5 days
  • You can scale up or scale down the recipe (pro rata), if you prefer. Adjust the cooking times accordingly
Weights & Measures:
  • All non-liquid spoon measures are rounded, unless otherwise stated
  • A level teaspoon (tsp) contains 5ml of liquid
  • A level tablespoon (tbsp) contains 15ml of liquid
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Last edited by Admin on Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:04 am, edited 12 times in total.
Reason: Added Alternative Method for Preparation. Changed volume of curry base from 4.5 to 6 litres and minimum stock pot size from 5 to 7 litres.
CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Westy » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:30 am

Hi Cory ,

Thanks for posting your latest base .. it is indeed different from the one posted elsewhere , several years ago ( that base is my de-fault base ) .

Could you tell me a couple of things please 1. How many portions of base ( at 300ml ) do you usually get from this ?.

2. In your usual eloquant fashion could you describe the essential differences in taste / texture or whatever improvements this base gives over and above your original base please ?.

Thanks Cory ! ;)
A curry can never be ‘too garlicky’ or ‘too hot’ .....

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Cory Ander » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:24 am

Hi Westy,

Thanks for the questions.

I will confirm how many 300ml portions it makes when I next make the curry base. I'll update my recipe accordingly.

I have made quite a few (smallish) iterations to my base since I posted my original recipe well over 3 years ago (as you might expect). These have been made in light of further knowledge, continual exploration and in the pursuit of ongoing improvements.

For reference, his is my original recipe that I posted, elsewhere, over 3 years ago.

Main Differences and Reasons for the Differences:

1. I've scaled the recipe up (because it became tedious making it so often). But you can half, double (or whatever) the stated quantities, if you wish.
2. I've added a small amount of potato to give it more body
3. I've added some whole coriander and cumin seeds to add extra nuances
4. I've added a little evaporated milk to give it a more creamy texture
5. Other than that, ingredients wise, the recipe is more or less the same (apart from being scaled up)
6. Method wise, I've increased the cooking time (and, particularly, introduced a slow simmering stage at stage 1) to increase the sweetness of the base. But, as mentioned, the whole process can be sped up by increasing the cooking temperature (but at the expense of sweetness)

I think they are the major changes and the reasons why. I tried many other things, in other iterations, and have discarded them, for one reason or another. These include adding garam masala, creamed coconut, etc. I'll dig through my notes and summarise the other things I've discarded (and why) if you like?

I'd be really interested in hearing how you find this (compared to my original) should you choose to try it.

Cheers,
CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by uclown2002 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:40 pm

Need to have a go at this!

Will a 5 litre pot be big enough?

Unlike your old version, all the water is added at stage 2?

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Westy » Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:26 am

Hi uclown ,

I usually do a double of CA's original which is less volume than one of his new one's and a 5 litre pot is not enough for that so I'm guessing you'll need around a 7 litre if you want to do things like actually stir it ( which I dare say you will ;) ) .

Please report back on what you think of this new base .. have you tried the old one ?
A curry can never be ‘too garlicky’ or ‘too hot’ .....

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Cory Ander » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:31 am

uclown2002 wrote:Will a 5 litre pot be big enough?
Hi UC,

It makes about 4.5 litres of curry base (final product), so I think a 5 litre pot may be barely big enough.

I use an 8 litre stock pot, which is ample.

You can scale down the ingredients, pro rata, if you like, and reduce the cooking times accordingly.
uclown2002 wrote: Unlike your old version, all the water is added at stage 2?
Yes, all the water is added in "stage 2". Only oil in "stage 1"
CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by uclown2002 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:20 am

Cory Ander wrote:It makes about 4.5 litres of curry base (final product), so I think a 5 litre pot may be barely big enough. I use an 8 litre stock pot, which is ample. You can scale down the ingredients, pro rata, if you like, and reduce the cooking times accordingly
Tks CA
I'll do a half batch and half all measures then. I wouldn't expect the cooking times to halve though, as it always seems to take me longer when doing base gravys.
Thought about doing stage 1 in my pressure cooker; any thoughts?
Can I substitute or omit coriander seeds, as I don't have any?
Can I use coriander stalks instead of roots?

Thanks.

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Cory Ander » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:33 am

uclown2002 wrote: I'll do a half batch and half all measures then. I wouldn't expect the cooking times to halve though
Probably not halved, but the photos should give you a good idea of what to look for at each stage.
Thought about doing stage 1 in my pressure cooker; any thoughts?
Never tried it, so I don't know. I don't know about using a pressure cooker with oil either? But, if you are otherwise familiar with using a pressure cooker, I suppose you will be able to estimate the reduced time required to get a similar result. Having said that, I don't know if you will get the same sweetness from the onions (which is the purpose of the long, very gentle, simmer).

I recommend that you try it, as is, first, and, thereafter, amend it as you see fit.
Can I substitute or omit coriander seeds, as I don't have any?
Yes, but the result will be different
Can I use coriander stalks instead of roots?
Yes, for sure, but too much green may give you a greenish hue.

PS: If you make too many changes you will end up with a completely different beast (for better or for worse).
CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by uclown2002 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:29 am

Tks CA.

I'll do it to spec first time out but with half measures.

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by joshallen3k » Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:55 am

CA - thanks for posting your latest base. Your tweaks make sense to me.

Have you ever tried an Akhni stock in lieu of a small portion of water? The last base I tried was the Little India, which uses a small amount of akhni stock. I wouldn't say it produced the best curries I have made, but when I noticed the effect of the whole spices, and thought it added a little something.

Curious if you have tried this add.

-- Josh

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Cory Ander » Sat Apr 13, 2013 5:32 am

Hi Josh,

Yes, I have tried it several times (including with the Little India base). The first time I saw Akhni stock was in a Pat Chapman book and I also tried it then.

My view is that I don't much like it. It seems to me that the more aromatic spices (particularly cassia bark/cinnamon quills) produce a very distinctive astringent taste (if that's the correct word) that I really don't like. Consequently, I've abandoned the idea. Perhaps I need to revisit it.
CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by joshallen3k » Sat Apr 13, 2013 5:58 am

CA, maybe you're right. However I do note the difference it adds. For better or worse.

That said, in all honesty, other than a few disasters, the base seems to make little difference.

The final curry recipe is where 95% of my results live or die.

However I guess I hang on to the "the secret is in the base" mentality, because it makes sense. Trial and error tells me otherwise.

I will try your latest base next, and report some findings.

-- Josh

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by uclown2002 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:28 am

@CA
Does this deliver the right consistency all the time or does it need to be watered done further at end sometimes?

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Cory Ander » Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:51 am

Hi UC,

I make this curry base frequently. I am confident that this recipe (and my previous recipe) produces a curry base of the desired consistency (i.e. like thin soup); provided it is made according to the instructions. I am aware that a small number of people have tried my previous base and thought it to be too thick (and some, bizarrely, thought it to be too thin!).

Nevertheless, if you think it is too thick, add more water, until it is of the consistency you desire.
CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by uclown2002 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:12 pm

Thanks CA.

I recall thinning down your last (old) batch but had to adjust measurements and timings as my pan wasn't big enough, so I wasn't too surprised.

Similarly, this time I'll only be able to do a half batch so maybe it will affect it but will wait and see.

Can a base really be too thin?

Can I ask why the garlic and ginger is pureed as opposed to just adding it chopped?

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Cory Ander » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:27 am

uclown2002 wrote:Can I ask why the garlic and ginger is pureed as opposed to just adding it chopped?
Only that I always have pre-prepared garlic purée and ginger purée readily to hand for cooking main dishes.

But I see no reason why chopped would be any different, if you prefer.
CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Willyeckerslike » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:35 pm

Hi CA,

I made your new base today and I do think it is better than the old one. It has a greater depth of flavour and is more aromatic.

We were invited to an evening at friends for an Indian night, so I set out to make your simple CTM as volunteered by the better half, failure swiftly followed due to a very poor tandoori massalla supplied by an Indian grocer. I binned the sauce and made your madras to spec (without optional tandoori massalla!) but dropped the chilli powder a bit as I was supposed to be doing the creamy mild dish. It ended up the vindaloo's were shall we say poor and not really spicy and my Madras was a hit and spicier (only used 1/2 tsp of chilli per portion).

Thanks for the recipe CA keep up the good work it is very much appreciated!

Will
Base.jpg
Madras.jpg
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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Cory Ander » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:52 am

Hi Will,

Thanks for posting your results 8-)
Willyeckerslike wrote: I set out to make your simple CTM as volunteered by the better half, failure swiftly followed due to a very poor tandoori massalla supplied by an Indian grocer. I binned the sauce
I really would encourage you to make and use PC's tandoori masala. It is very easy to make (i.e. no roasting or grinding of whole spices) and you can adjust the amount of food colouring to your liking. It really is excellent and knocks the spots off most commercial tandoori masalas (in my opinion)

Regarding your madras, I would suggest that you "up the heat" a bit (a lot?) and reduce it much further (if you like a thicker texture, that is)?

Step on the heat Will! :P
CA (aka Admin) :)

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by Willyeckerslike » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:24 am

Hi CA,

Yes I had already looked at the PC Tandoori Massala and I will make it this week when I get some more powdered spices.

I will try to turn up the heat more too next time.... ;)

cheers,

Will

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Re: CA's Curry Base (a.k.a. Gravy, Sauce, Garabi, etc)

Post by bobsbeer » Wed May 22, 2013 6:56 pm

Now ready to create a curry. It does taste nice and creamy with the addition of the evaporated milk. 12 x 2 portion batches ready for the freezer.
CABase.jpg
Now to create a curry with the remaining sauce.
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Last edited by bobsbeer on Fri May 24, 2013 6:53 am, edited 4 times in total.
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