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Building Blocks of Curry: How to Make Indian Curry

Building Blocks of Curry: How to Make Indian Curry

A practical guide showcasing the essential steps in making an Indian curry. Follow these building blocks of curry and you'll achieve great results every time.

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Are you intimidated by Indian cooking? Do you think you'll never be able to make a curry from scratch? Think again! Although Indian cuisine and its wide array of spices may seem daunting at first, it certainly isn't impossible to learn how to make Indian curry. Aside from confidence, what you'll need are a few guidelines to point you in the right direction.

By following the tips below, making great curry will become second nature. After you mastered how to make Indian curry, when you're feeling inspired be sure to check out our chicken tikka masala and our recipe for Indian lentils.

How to make Indian Curry: some spicy rules and tips

Learn how to temper spices

Indian cuisine heavily relies on a cooking method known as tempering. To temper spices, you'll need to fry them in a bit of hot oil until fragrant so they can release their essential oils. This is done at the beginning of the cooking process so make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before turning on the heat. 

Know your spices

The usual suspects when it comes to making curries are three spices in particular: turmeric, cumin seeds and mustard seeds. While there are exceptions, this holy spice trinity goes into almost everything. Some recipes call for fenugreek seeds, split cardamom pods or even cloves to be added at the beginning.

Everything at its time

When making Indian food, the order of ingredients is very important. For instance, garam masala is often used as a finishing spice mix while turmeric is tempered at the beginning of the cooking process. Read the recipe carefully and follow the instructions.

Ginger, garlic and onions

These aromatics are the essence of most Indian cooking and the soul of curry. They are usually cooked until brown, along with tomatoes, chilies and tempered spices.

Master making tadka

Just like Latinos have sofrito and the French have mirepoix, the Indians have an aromatic base of ingredients they fry together that goes into almost every dish. To make a tadka, you'd temper spices then add ginger, garlic and onions. When these are tender and caramelized, you may add tomatoes and chilies. A lot of curries rely on the same basic tadka, once you master this skill you can use it as a base for endless dishes.

Tomatoes before chilies

Have you ever added chilies to a pot only to be suffocated by its fumes? You can avoid that scenario by adding chilies to the pot after the tadka has been cooked with tomatoes. The moisture from the tomatoes will give the volatile oils in the chilies somewhere to go.

Finish with a sprinkle cilantro

Fresh cilantro is a great garnish for your curries for two reasons: it looks good and add tons of flavor. When you're done making a curry throw a few cilantro leaves in the pot, turn of the heat, put a lid on it and allow the cilantro to wilt.

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