In 2013 a friend was kind enough to buy me a course at the Curry Academy. I highly recommend it if you’re anywhere near the splendid garden city of Huddersfield. The particular course I took was Restaurant Style Cooking, the point of which is summarised here:

Have you ever wondered why curries cooked at home never taste like the ones ordered from a restaurant? This course will de-mystify the cooking techniques used to produce restaurant standard dishes.

What I hadn’t appreciated was how much time could be taken out of the process, without losing any of the flavours of a properly home-cooked dish. And how few ingredients are required. Using this recipe I’m now cooking more curries than before and all without having to go through the tedious process of chopping and peeling garlic and ginger. So let’s get to it.

Ingredients

  • Cubes of frozen garlic and ginger (AKA Best Thing Ever Since the Last Best Thing Ever)
  • 2 Medium size onions
  • Meat or vegetables of choice: I usually use chicken but not breast. Thigh fillets seem to absorb the flavours much better. Leaving it on the bone is extra tasty. Buy enough for two.
  • 1 tsp Whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • Chilli powder (Quantity: up to you)
  • 2 tsp Tandoori masala powder
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil. Just bog standard vegetable oil. Its all rapeseed these days so don’t worry about the fat content, this is going to be a healthy dish.

frozen ginger and garlic in packets five packets of spices

If you are lucky enough to be within travelling distance of the fabulous Javid Supermarket then your life is complete. Although be prepared to spend more time than you intended gaping at the breadth of ingredients on display. Some puzzling jars, I am convinced, contain the preserved bodies of aliens that foolishly ventured into Fartown in the 1950s.

Method

  1. You defrosted the cubes of garlic and ginger didn’t you? (2 of each).

  2. Roughly chop the onions. Stick them in a good pan or Le Creuset-type casserole dish with 250 ml of water and 1 tsp whole cumin seeds. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat for 20–30 mins. Yes, that’s right, we’re boiling not frying.

  3. Add the garlic and ginger, 3 tablespoons of oil and then mash with a potato mashing thing.

  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt plus the cumin, tandoori masala, turmeric and chilli powders.

  5. Turn the heat up a bit until the base sizzles and the oil separates and comes to the top. When there is very little steam visible, add the meat and seal. Cover and cook until the meat is done. I usually give it 45 minutes.

Optional: I sometimes cheat even more shamelessly by adding a couple of tins of Rodina mixed vegetables.

tins Rodina mixed vegetables

That’s it. Job done.