Curry Guide… Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken is a now popular dish across the world but it has its roots in the region that today comprises Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India. The chicken is marinated in yoghurt and a mix of tandoori spices, then cooked in a tandoor oven, with the heat from the wood or charcoal giving the dish its trademark smokiness. The edges of the chicken are often slightly charred and the meat is scored (this was the allow the marinade to penetrate deeper).

Tandoori Chicken Gurkha's InnThe red colour of the meat comes from the cayenne pepper, red chilli powder and turmeric in the spice mix, although some chefs add food colouring. In recent years there has been a backlash against the use of this red colouring and the days of Day-Glo looking chicken are slowly becoming a thing of the past.

Tandoori Chicken is a popular starter with chutneys and makes a great snack with a Butter Nan.It also serves the base for a number of curries such as Butter Chicken. The chicken is often served to the table sizzling and for that reason it is sometimes called a Sizzler.


The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.

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Curry Guide… the Staff Curry

IMG_7178Are you fed up with the same old menu choices when you go out for a curry? Ask the waiter if you can try the Kitchen (or Staff) Curry – the curry the chef will have cooked for the staff to eat when the night’s work is over. This is unlikely to be a dish you will find on the menu; it’s most probably a dish from the home region of the chef and it will be different every day. There’s not always some spare but if there is then most restaurants are usually more than happy for you to try the dish. Obviously if you are eating early you may be out of luck as the Kitchen Curry may not be underway until later in the evening!


 

The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.

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Curry Guide… Madras

If you walked into a restaurant in Madras (now called Chennai) in India and ordered a “Madras” you’d almost certainly be met with a blank look. It’d be the same as walking into a restaurant in the English capital and asking for a “London”.

The Madras is a British invention and its connotations with “hot” stem from the traders and soldiers who were in the city from the time the British arrived in 1640. Not only do South Indians love spicy food but the city is extremely hot and humid, with temperatures usually over 30°C (86°F) and frequently reaching 40°C (104°F).IMG_1359

Those early ex-pats would have brought back the tastes of India when they returned home with their pots of spice mixes, or early curry powders. As there were no standard for these spice mixes (just as not all curry powders are the same today), it’s possible that the mixes with a little bit extra zing were called “Madras” to acknowledge their extra heat.

The early Indian restaurant owners in Britain carried through this thinking by adding their own hotter mixes or more chilli powder to their standard curry to create the Madras Curry and why today many people are able to order virtually any dish on the menu and ask the chef to make it “Madras hot”.


 

The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.

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Curry Guide… Dosas

Pathiri (dosa)
Dosas
are a type of pancake and are particularly popular in South India, which is where they originate from. Ingredients are simple enough, with rice and black gram soaked in water, then ground to form a batter but the skill is in the creation because the perfect dosa will be paper-thin like a crêpe. They can be eaten plain, coated in ghee or stuffed with other ingredients like potato. Dosas make a great starter or snack and are usually served with chutneys.

 


 

The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.

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Curry Guide… Choosing Rice

Don’t treat your order of rice as an afterthought. Choosing the right rice should enhance your meal. If you are ordering a special dish (or a really hot one) stick to Plain Rice or  Pilau Rice so you don’t have tastes competing with the flavours (or heat) of your main dish. If you are looking for more flavours on the table then go for a rice that really adds something to your dish rather than something that just soaks up the sauce.

• You’ve ordered somIMG_6913ething hot, like Vindaloo or Madras… then go for Plain Rice or the lightly spiced Pilau Rice to give yourself some respite from the blast.

• You’ve ordered something smooth like Korma or Tikka Masala… then go for Lemon Rice for a sharp taste to cut through the cream.

• You’ve ordered a medium-spiced lamb dish like Karahi Lamb… then go for Coconut Rice as its subtle flavours complement the strong, robust taste of the red meat.

• You’ve ordered Biryani… then go for, ahem, you won’t be needing any extra rice with this one.


 

The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.

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