the joy derived from eating a balti is not debatable
Forget about the chicken tikka masala or korma. It’s not the 20th century. It is time to add new tastes to your palate, as many Britons are now starting to do when it comes to Indian curries.
With a plethora of different recipes and Indian dishes available, it is time not to restrict your tastebuds to the familiar.
Each of the Indian curries has its own unique taste and way of being cooked.
As you will read in our guide, these curries originate in various parts of South Asia.
They have then evolved or have been re-invented in the kitchens of Indian restaurants in the UK.
So what are the 7 Indian Curries that you must try? Let’s find out.
A Jalfrezi is a stir-fried curry. The base is made from onions, bell peppers, and green chillies, which produces a rich and hot sauce.
The green chillies make it one of the hotter curries on the Indian restaurant menu and give the Jalfrezi a fresh zingy taste.
Chicken jalfrezi is the most popular, but it can also work well with Paneer or vegetables.
The origin of the word ‘jalfrezi’ comes from the British Raj-era method of stir-frying leftovers of cold roasted meat and potatoes.
If you are after a hot curry, you might want to try the Madras.
It was originally invented by the British curry industry to be a hotter version of the standard curry.
The rich, red-coloured sauce comes from the liberal use of tomatoes and chilli powder.
The story of Madras curry powder dates back to Empire. The British landed in the city now known as Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
There they discovered a Tamil dish called ‘kari’, which the English called ‘curry’. The spice blend used in this dish was packaged, exported, and sold all over England.
The taste of the Rogan Josh takes you back to the beautiful mountains and breathtaking views of Kashmir.
In a previous lifetime, it was a Kashmiri Lamb stew. It’s warming flavours made it comforting soul food for the cold weather.
Nowadays, it is the most popular lamb dish for curry lovers in Indian restaurants in the UK.
It is a medium-hot curry, with a rich sauce, which exudes a deep red colour and the long flavours of tomatoes, red peppers, and dried red chillies.
In the cooking process for a Bhuna, spices are gently fried in oil to bring out their flavour.
The meat is then added to the spices and then cooked in its own juices.
The result is a medium-hot curry with deep strong flavours but very little sauce.
This is a good choice for somebody who wants an authentic taste of curry, without the excess thickness of sauce or cream.
For the ultimate Indian restaurant experience, at least once in your life you must visit Birmingham’s Balti Triangle.
The word ‘balti’, which can be translated as ‘bucket’, refers to the double-handed wok that the curry is cooked and served in.
Whether it was invented in Birmingham, or in Baltistan, Kashmir many years before, is still up for debate.
But the joy derived from eating a balti is not debatable.
A ‘hot sweet and sour with lentils’, the dhansak was traditionally eaten as part of a Sunday family feast by India’s Parsi community.
It is influenced by Persian and Gujarati cooking. The ‘dhan’ refers to rice and ‘sak’ means dahl.
Alongside lamb and vegetables, this combination of ingredients gives the dish a delicious and earthy contrast of flavours and textures.
In the traditional recipe, the sweetness was subtle and derived from a vegetable such as pumpkin or squash.
However, many British curry houses nowadays use pineapple chunks.
For the regal taste of the court of the Moghul Emperors, try the creamy and mild pasanda.
The name comes from the Urdu word ‘pasand’ which means ‘favourite’.
Traditionally made with lamb, chicken, prawns, paneer would also go well with this rich curry.
The exotic and subtly sweet flavours of cardamom, cinnamon, and coriander emanate from the richly marinaded meat and indulgently creamy sauce.
These flavours are enhanced further with the garnishing of almonds.
What Should you Eat your Curry With?
The size and fluffy texture of naans make them a great sponge for the sauce of curries.
For something a little more self-indulgent, try a Peshwari naan, or a kulcha.
Often overlooked, chapattis and tandoori rotis possess an earthy flavour of a traditional Indian flatbread.
The tangy taste of the pickles isa brilliant accompaniment for naans and rotis.
Rice is also good for soaking up saucy curries. If you like it plain, go for boiled. For a more flavourful Indian taste, try pilau.
Adding mint yoghurt or raita can be used to cool down hot curries, and to add another complementary taste.
And to Drink?
You cannot go wrong with a lassi, a traditional Indian yoghurt based drink. The two main varieties are sweet and mango.
After you have finished eating, a hot cup of desi tea or chai is the perfect way to wash down your curry.
It would be advised to have tap water readily available to drink, particularly if you are eating hot curries.
Indian beers, such as a Kingfisher or Cobra, are suitable as they are less gassy than other beers.
For the best wines to match with Indian food, read our article here.
Next time you are sat in an Indian restaurant, be brave and try something new. The tastes on offer are delightful and vast.
So stop being stingy to your tongue and your stomach. With all your heart, indulge yourself.