While it’s good to experiment and try your hand at Indian cuisine at home, nothing beats the tantalising tastes you will experience at one of London’s fine-dining Indian restaurants, with divine dishes cooked up by some of the most skilled regional chefs in the country. After all, some things in life are best left to the professionals. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to cook Indian food at home:
They don’t Cook the Onions for Long Enough
Although onions are considered to be a savoury food, when sweated down for long enough they impart a delicious sweet base to a curry. When cooking onions at home, many people become impatient with how long it takes and move on before the onions are properly soft (and sweet) all the way through. Dice the onions finely and they will take less time to cook. Ensuring your onions are soft will give your dish a new depth of flavour.
They Use Dry, Old Spices
Freshly-ground spices add so much more flavour to an Indian dish than pre-ground ones. You don’t always have to grind to order, but if you grind small batches you will notice a difference. Pre-ground spices are usually lightly roasted beforehand, meaning the oils that would be released when cooking have disappeared.
They Always Roast their Spices
Many believe that roasting their spices brings out the flavours, but it all depends on the dish. Some regions in India like to roast their spices to impart a nutty flavour, whereas some work better with spices added at the end.
They Add Flour to Thicken a Curry
Some people become impatient when reducing a gravy and add flour in order to thicken it. This should be avoided at all costs; many Indian dishes involve a slow-cooked process that shouldn’t be rushed. If you find your gravy is still too thin, stir in some yoghurt or a couple of tablespoons of cashew or almond paste. This will result in a delicious curry, rather than a lumpy one.
They don’t Season Properly
One of the biggest mistakes made when cooking Indian dishes is not adding salt.Many assume that there is so much flavour being imparted from the spices that seasoning isn’t required – this is false; salt will bring out the flavours of the dish and ensure it is deliciously well-balanced.
They Forget to Taste their Dish Before Serving
Once the dish is made, many don’t have the confidence to adjust the flavours to suit their tastes. Ingredients that can be added at the end for a new element are tomato puree, onions, cumin powder, garam masala, lemon juice, tamarind, black pepper, dried mango powder, red chilli powder or fresh green chillies. For a creamier curry, add some coconut or cream.
Of course, practise makes perfect, and the chefs at London’s fine-dining Indian restaurants have years of it. Tricks and methods are passed down through the generations, but given a contemporary twist to ensure they are a spectacle for all the senses.