Category Archives: Top Tip

Top Tip: Knives

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You need sharp knives, it’s as simple as that. Blunt knives are dangerous as you need to apply more pressure, that equates to more chance of slipping and cutting yourself. This doesn’t mean your knives need to be expensive, cheap knives can be kept very sharp too, but they’ll just need a little more looking after than a high quality knife.

Sharpening knives is relatively easy, and made that much easier by doing it regularly. Our advice is to purchase a wet stone, sometimes called a sharpening stone, like the ones found here: https://www.steamer.co.uk/atoz/a_to_z_sharpening_stones You basically soak the stone in water, for a given amount of time, then scrape the blade back and forth at a constant angle. This very gradually shapes the blade, removes burrs and polishes the edge. You could always use a “grind” sharpener, the type with a V shape groove you drag the blade through, however these can often damage the blade and leave a rough edge. Butcher’s steels are also very good, but can take a bit of getting used to.

When it comes to cleaning knives there is only one golden rule you should follow; never, ever, ever put them in a dish washer! This rattles the knives around, clanking them together which will ruin the blade edges, also the dishwasher detergent is very abrasive, which will also damage the blade surface. Clean them in the sink with normal washing up liquid, rinse them and dry them straight away.

Knife storage is quite simple, use a good quality knife block, or a magnetic holder. Don’t just bundle them into a cutlery drawer for the same reasons you don’t want them knocking together in the dish washer. If you’ve got very expensive knives, you can even buy rubberised sheaths for them, to protect the blades even further.

As far as brands go, knives can be a bit “snobbish”. However, to be fair to the more expensive manufacturers, there is definitely a difference. We use everything from £10 Stellar knives right up to £100+ Global knives. The Stellars are perfectly serviceable knives and we use them regularly, however the Globals definitely have the edge (pun intended). They’re sharper from the start, stay sharper longer, have a better balance, and with any luck, will last longer. Other brands we like include Robert Welch, I.O. Shen, Kin and Yaxell.

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Curry recipe resources

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As we’re sure you already know, The Curry Bible isn’t the only curry recipe website available on the Internet. There’s all sorts of resource for the discerning Curry-ista, everything from recipe websites, community forums, on-line shops selling authentic spices and cooking equipment, the list goes on. Here’s a quick run down of some of our favourites.

A great on-line resource is the BIRCurries.co.uk website, it’s an invaluable forum where you can find massive amounts of information from plenty of other curry enthusiasts, both newbies and veterans alike! The forum is organised really well so you can find sections for starters, main dishes, side dishes etc. There’s also a few professional Indian restaurant chefs that  use the forum too! Take a look here: BIRCurries.co.uk.

Although it hasn’t been updated in a long time, The Curry Sauce is an excellent website. Run by Shane and Andy, two curry loving friends the site has a few really good recipes posted, our personal favourite being the Naga / Sylhet and also some reviews and other curry related information.

Cook4One is a fantastic website, but can feel a little overwhelming for new users at first. It’s a website dedicated to cooking single portion food, which is a category BIR curry’s fit in to perfectly. The website caters for authentic Indian, BIR, Chinese, Vegetarian and other types of cuisine. The BIR section is certainly expansive and jam packed with recipes and information. There are at least five different base sauce recipes, each given a code name, so as we say, for the beginner it can be a little daunting.

Dan Toombs, AKA The Curry Guy runs the Great Curry Recipes website and it’s a cracker. Dan has also published a couple of e-books too, the seafood book is seriously worth a look. You can also get in touch with Dan on Twitter and Facebook, he’s a friendly guy, always keen to help out, give advice and generally chat about all things Curry! Dan also runs a small on-line shop where you can buy some excellent spice kits, Curry-centric cookware and the inimitable I.O.Shen knives! The Curry Guy also tends to run competitions from time to time too, so get involved!

Another useful BIR recipe website is The Curry House, the recipes posted are definitely worth a look. They too have produced a recipe book that you can purchase in both physical and electronic formats. There’s also a very useful FAQ section. Here’s the link: The Curry House

Other on-line resources that we love include:

Top Tip: Spice storage

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OK this is a very quick and easy hint. If someone buys you one of those nice posh spice jar holders or racks similar to the one below, thank them for the gift and then throw it in the bin.
Keep your spices in air tight containers well away from sunlight, preferably in a cupboard!
If you leave them in glass jars in your kitchen where sunlight can get to them you will ruin them as they’ll lose their aroma, taste and colour very quickly.

Top Tip: Tamarind paste

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This is the first in a few “top tips” I’ll be publishing. Think of them as tiny morsels of curry based wisdom.
Now, on to the tamarind paste. If you find the tamarind paste is very thick and packed full of rather unpleasant pips or stones, squeeze the tamarind paste out of the packet or jar into a bowl and add a table spoon of boiling water. Give it a minute or so and you will be able to use a fork to remove the stones, leaving you with lovely soft tamarind paste.