With the cooler weather here, there’s nothing nicer than a plate of your favourite curry to ward off the winter blues.
Luke Nair – Head Chef for the Oyster Box Hotel – has made his mark, particularly in the Ocean Terrace Restaurant, where he developed the menu and has established the famous Curry Buffet as the “best show in town”, on the Durban restaurant scene.
He is regarded as having one of the best palates around and loves sharing his extensive knowledge with aspirant young chefs in the kitchen. Here he shares his secrets to a good curry to impress family and friends.
How would you define a curry?
A basic curry comprises a combination of onion, tomato and a selection of spices. The secret of a curry is in the spicing.
- For fish, the mixture should include fennel and fenugreek.
- For lamb, cardamom and cumin.
- For vegetable, chaat masala (a spice of Indian origin).
- Of course, using fresh ingredients makes ALL the difference to any curry.
What are the must-have ingredients and why?
- Good (firm), brown onions
- Very ripe tomatoes
- Coriander and curry leaves
- Spices – must be freshly ground and roasted
What is the easiest way to cook a curry?
It depends on the curry.
- If you do meat (lamb), slow cook the meat (slow cooking any meat, is always the best) and onions first; let it simmer on its own for a while, cooking in its own fat.
- Blend in the tomatoes, coriander, curry leaves and curry masala.
- If available, a bit of freshly made stock.
I don’t usually add potatoes. It’s unnecessary if you’re serving the curry with rice. But it’s really personal choice.
How do you correct a curry if it is too salty?
I would suggest adding some tomato paste OR good quality tomato sauce AND some Worcester sauce. Another way is to fry up some onions, which sweetens and thickens the curry. Add fresh coriander to finish it off!
What are the best accompaniments for a curry?
Traditional KZN sambals are best – chop up fresh, ripe tomatoes, onions and cucumber; add a dash of fresh mint and coriander.
To whet your appetite, here’s Chef Nair’s favourite curry recipe for the Oyster Box’s Famous Lamb Curry.
- 1kg leg of lamb or shoulder cubed (you can also use 1kg chicken)
- 75ml oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks (10cm long)
- 20ml medium-strength masala curry powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10ml crushed garlic and ginger
- 4 curry leaves
- 5ml whole fennel seeds
- 250ml water (one cup)
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half
- 1 medium tomato, skinned and diced
- coriander (dhania) leaves for garnishing
Wash cubed meat and drain water. Heat oil, add diced onion, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Add masala curry powder, stir and add meat to the pot. Add salt, garlic and ginger, curry leaves and fennel seeds. Stir all ingredients together. Allow to cook on a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for half an hour. As excess water and juices evaporate, add the additional cup of water, followed by the potato and tomato. When both meat and vegetables are cooked (about 30 minutes), simmer on high heat for 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve.
Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 4 people
Serve with: Rice, roti and a green salad
WIN! WIN! WIN!
We have a meal voucher to the Oyster Box Curry Buffet for two people to give away (buffet only, excludes drinks and other meals). ENTER BELOW!
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED! CONGRATS TO THE WINNER – YOLANDI MILNE!