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Let’s be honest choosing a curry for the family takeaway can be war in and of itself. Everybody has a favourite curry, whether it be a infamously spicy vindaloo, a moderate Rogan Josh, or the nations favourite tikka masala. Many battles have been fought and lost in the pursuit of pleasing the whole family. This can lead to a spicy atmosphere well before the curry even arrives, one thing we can all agree on is that we are a country of passionate curry fanatics. 

 

Being an avid lover of curry's since I was child, I never truly learnt how to cook (as I would put it) proper Indian curry until I was about 20 years old! experimenting with garam masala, coriander, cumin, asafoetida etc., But I was never truly satisfied with them as I lacked technique, and basic understanding of how flavours are layered in a curry, finding the right balance with ingredients is very important if you want to make a truly authentic dish. 

 

Still not wanting to give up on my curry journey I pressed on making mistakes and learning, and expanding my Indian book collection to about 8-10 books, all with individual and fascinating insights to regional Indian cuisines. But I always felt like I was missing something. As a side note I much prefer my recipe books to other sources, anyone can publish a recipe online or in a blog but to publish a book with this kind of information these days, the content has to be worthy of the process so is subject to a higher form of scrutiny. So I am always more inclined towards a published work than a web recipe.

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I had heard a lot about Dan’s book via various websites, book reviews and online adverts, at the time of writing he has four books available there is the original “The Curry Guy”, then “The Curry Guy : Easy” then “The Curry Guy: Vegie” and the “The Curry Guy: Light”. so much to the dismay of my beautiful wife I decided to take on one more Indian book. I opted for the 2-in-1 book that has the original and the easy volumes of his series.

 

I consider all of my Indian cookery books an invaluable resource. But after discovering “The Curry Guy” a couple of years ago I have found that the more I have cooked, the more I have experimented. The more I have found myself turning this book more often than not, the contents of all my other books have essentially been condensed down to one. Dan Toomb’s “The Curry Guy”

 

Dan’s Story

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The food Writer was born and raised in California and has always loved cooking. After learning and cooking all of the family recipes passed down to by his grandfather he began experimenting with Mexican and Chinese food, during an interview he said “I loved the spices and different techniques used and carefully set out to learn and memorise the different flavours and techniques.”

He then moved to London in 1994 at the age of 29. Where he quickly became obsessed with the great British curry. He said in an interview with the Daily Mail 'When I first came to Britain I tasted Indian food and loved it. You can't get it in California so I had been missing out. I tried cooking at home but I had no idea there was a difference between traditional Indian recipes and the takeaway version.”

But when he tried recreating the recipes at home with Indian cookery books he soon realised that the food he loved from British takeaways was far removed from the traditional recipes he was following in cook books, 

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Dan started writing his blog in March 2011 whilst working for a promotional merchandising company. Early on in the blog he decided that it wasn’t enough to just cook a curry once a week and write about it. So he set a challenge for himself and his family to eat nothing but Indian food for 3 meals a day for a whole year.

After a While people started asking, ‘Why is it that when I go out for a curry and order a Rogan josh or a dhal, it tastes completely different to what I make at home from a recipe in a book?’ So he decided he would talk to some chefs and find out what makes British-Indian food so distinctive. 

He found most Indian restaurants In the UK will make a base sauce and use it for almost all their curries, whereas authentic Indian curries will be made with water. The base sauce is a smooth onion stock with a few whole spices thrown in and simmered for around 90 minutes it completely changes the flavour and brings a sweetness British people really enjoy. 

 
 

He also has four cardinal rules to follow when using he book:

 

“Rule 1: Only use the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. Even the best chefs in the world can’t do much with stale spices and poor-quality meat and vegetables. We are so lucky to have excellent farmers’ markets, butchers, fishmongers and spice suppliers here in the UK. Use them.”

 

“Rule 2: Take an afternoon to make the base ingredients. Only the base curry sauce needs to be made from scratch to get that awesome texture, aroma and flavour that is the BIR (British Indian Restaurant) curry. Others like garlic and ginger paste and the spice blends can be purchased commercially. Remember, though: fresh is best and you will notice a difference in the end result.”

 

“Rule 3: Add the ingredients in the order specified in my recipes.”

 

“Rule 4: Have fun! Choose a time to cook when you really feel like cooking. You’ll enjoy it much more.”

 
 
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Tandoori Murgh Malai Tikka

I loved this so much as a kid, the char flavour from the grill and sometimes the yoghurt and spices would form a crust which used to make it ten times better.

I even loved the supernaturally red colour

 
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Tandoori Murgh Malai Tikka

I loved this so much as a kid, the char flavour from the grill and sometimes the yoghurt and spices would form a crust which used to make it ten times better.

I even loved the supernaturally red colour

 
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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is without doubt my favourite indian curry. I quite like a bit of coconut milk in mine.

Super rich & creamy served with perfectly cooked yello pilaf rice.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is without doubt my favourite indian curry. I quite like a bit of coconut milk in mine.

Super rich & creamy served with perfectly cooked yello pilaf rice.

 
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Lamb Dopiaza

My brother first taught me how to cook this exquisite lamb and onion curry. at a hotel we both worked at and I instantly loved it.

So much so that it is my go to curry to order/make on special occasions.

We have topped with crispy onions to give it that extra bit of crunch that just elevates it further.

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Lamb Dopiaza

My brother first taught me how to cook this exquisite lamb and onion curry. at a hotel we both worked at and I instantly loved it.

So much so that it is my go to curry to order/make on special occasions.

We have topped with crispy onions to give it that extra bit of crunch that just elevates it further.

 
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Tandoori Chicken Tikka

The marinade in this book for chicken tikka is hands down the best ive ever had!!

It tastes just like the very best BIR (British Indian Restaurants). if you make nothing else in this book this is worth the entrance fee alone. 

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Tandoori Chicken Tikka

The marinade in this book for chicken tikka is hands down the best ive ever had!!

It tastes just like the very best BIR (British Indian Restaurants). if you make nothing else in this book this is worth the entrance fee alone. 

 
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Lamb Rogan Josh

Lamb rogan josh was always on our order list for the saturday night takeaway.

I love this recipe, lots of peppers and onions, I always stole them before anyone else could get their hands on them.

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Lamb Rogan Josh

Lamb rogan josh was always on our order list for the saturday night takeaway.

I love this recipe, lots of peppers and onions, I always stole them before anyone else could get their hands on them.

 
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Lamb Bhuna

Lamb Bhuna was something that I didn't try until I was in my 20s at a staff party.

It has stayed with me ever since and the recipe is absolutley spot on.

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Lamb Bhuna

Lamb Bhuna was something that I didn't try until I was in my 20s at a staff party.

It has stayed with me ever since and the recipe is absolutley spot on.

 

Sample Recipe

For our sample recipe we have choosen to use Dan's chicken tikka masala recipe with a few tweaks to make it more accessible. 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients

  • 100ml veg oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely grated)
  • 30g fresh ginger (finely grated)
  • 4 tbsp of sugar
  • 4 tbsp ground almonds
  • 4tbsp coconut flour
  • 200ml of passata
  • 4 tbsp Madras curry powder
  • 4 tbsp Tandoori masala (optional)
  • 4 tbsp garam masala
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 300ml single cream
  • small bunch fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 6 chicken breasts (cut into 4cm chunks)

 

 

      Method

  1. First heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat
  2. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle, add the pieces of chicken to the pan and cook through, once sealed set aside until later
  3. In the same pan add a little more oil then stir in the fine grated garlic and ginger
  4. Add the sugar, almonds and coconut. fry for a few seconds then add the passata 
  5. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and the chicken stock. Let simmer for 4 minutes
  6. Once the sauce has cooked down a little add the chicken and stir in the cream
  7. if the sauce becomes too thick you can add a little more chicken stock.
  8. Finish with chooped coriander, a sprinkle of garam masala, and a squeeze lemon juice

 

 

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Throughout the challenge he taught himself over 500 recipes, making use of the techniques he had picked up through talking to chefs and experimenting himself. Also stating that his curries are a lot healthier than the traditional curries where a lot of oil or ghee is used.

due to the eventual success of his experiment he carried in on for almost 2 years.

He has since gained a global following including, including, ironically a following in India and is known for sharing recipes of British-style Indian takeaway favourites, from Chicken Tikka Masala, Tandoori Murgh Malai Tikka, Classic Biryani dishes to homemade Naan breads.

As well as writing the blog, and book and making guest appearance at food festivals, Dan and his wife Caroline run cookery holidays in France.

 
 
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Dan Toombs highlights this in every recipe in “The Curry Guy”. Dan’s expert take on classic Indian dishes along with helpful tips, techniques and in-depth knowledge into the origins and history of each one fills every page. 

There is a superb chapter on “Base Recipes” right at the beginning. it explains in great detail as to how to use this book, with a few pages on a simple base sauce, and it also has a fascinating look at the different spice blends and when they should be used. 

 
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Once you have mastered the incredibly simple base sauce (which I have found can be easily frozen in portions) and have the base spices in your cupboards. You will be able to recreate all the dishes in this book with very little effort all you will need is a few fresh ingredients.

 

Cooking from this book requires a bit of investment of time and money, and some ingredients need to be sourced from specialists shops, but these shops are getting more popular and becoming less rare every year. but it more than pays for itself when It comes to how much you will save on never having to buy takeout ever again.

 

Add all these ingredients together and what you come out with is a cook book that is truly remarkable.