Curry 101


Welcome to introduction to Curry 101. This includes basics you should know about Indian curries and a Curry recipe. Firstly curry does not refer to the curry powder but it actually means “sauce” in Tamil (a south Indian language) and they are used to eat rice, naan bread or other type of food. There are different kinds of curries and not all of them are even yellow like the “curry powder” we know. Now instead of using the ready-made curry powder to make a curry, you need to combine your own spices available from the vast array of Indian spices. Theses spices are best bought whole and ground when needed. They can also be toasted before grinding or some can even be put whole in the food for that extra zing. But hey! even if you get them already ground, it’s better to have that than none at all. Many thanks to my Pakistani flat-mate who gave me this list of spices and the Curry recipe (in fact I named the curry after her). For a basic combo, you can combine the first 8 spices and grind to use for cooking curries:

  1. Turmeric powder
  2. Coriander seed
  3. Black pepper
  4. Cumin
  5. Cloves
  6. Green cardamom
  7. Black cardamom
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Red chili powder
  10. Star aniseed (star anise)
  11. Fenugreek
  12. Fennel
  13. Mace

Other ingredients popular in curries include:

  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Coriander leaves
  • Tamarind (called “tsamiya” in hausa)
  • Saffron
  • Yoghurt or coconut milk as liquid base.
  • Ghee (clarified butter) which serves as the oil.
  • Thickener: cashew nut paste, tomato or ground onions.
  • Meat: (for non-vegetarian curry), lamb or chicken is commonly used.

Sehar’s curry with basmati rice and salsa

Now for the recipe I made some slight modifications. Instead of buying all the spices I used a Paneer masala called Everest® Kitchen King Masala which I bought from Park ‘n’ Shop. Masala just means “spice mix” in Hindi so to buy your own masala, just read the ingredients and see if it contains what you need. I chose this because it had all the spices I needed. In addition I didn’t have coriander leaves for garnishing so instead I made a Salsa.


Ingredients: Sehar’s curry

  • Onions
  • Oil
  • Chicken breast cut in chunks.
  • Garlic and ginger, grated.
  • Salt
  • Knorr® cubes
  • Red chili powder
  • Everest® masala (at least should contain coriander powder and turmeric powder)
  • Green cardamom
  • Yoghurt (thick and unsweetened)
  • Tomatoes
  • Cashew nut paste (ground cashew nut mixed with water)
  • Coriander leaves

Basmati rice:

  • Basmati rice
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)


  • Tomato seeded and chopped
  • Parsley chopped
  • Cashew nuts, hand broken.
  • Mango (non-fibrous), chopped.
  • Vinegar
  • Veg oil
  • Black pepper
  • A rumour of cinnamon.
  • Red onions, chopped.

Procedure: For curry:

  • Take some onions and cut them into ‘D’ shape.
  • In a thick saucepan, put some oil and fry these onions until they are light brown. Strain them from the oil and allow them to cool.
  • In the same oil (add more if needed), put chicken, ginger and garlic then fry till the chicken is brown on the outside.
  • Blend fried onions and tomato. You could use a little yoghurt to ease the blending.
  • Pour this into the chicken, add remaining yoghurt then season with the salt, chili powder, stock cubes and masala.
  • Cook until chicken is tender and oil comes to the top.
  • At this point add the cashew nut paste.
  • Cook for 2 minutes and its ready.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.

For Basmati rice:

  • Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Add salt if needed.

For Salsa:

  • Combine the vegetables and nuts.
  • Add the dressings and seasoning.
  • Mix delicately.
  • Use as border garniture for the rice and curry.

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