Spicy food lovers, rejoice, because National Curry Week is back for another year.
The annual event, which is now in its 23rd year, celebrates all things to do with the wonderful cuisine we all love and in 2021 the festivities are taking place from 4 October to 10 October.
The week was founded in 1998 by journalist Peter Grove, in a bid to raise awareness of the dish while simultaneously supporting the restaurant industry.
And the best part is that getting involved is simple. While you can use it as an excuse to head to your local curry house or order a takeaway, one of our favourite ways to mark the occasion is by cooking up a storm at home, whether that’s a quick mid-week dinner with your loved ones or hosting a lavish curry night at the weekend with friends.
Whether you like yours extra spicy or mild and fragrant, we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide to everything you need to master the art of curry-making, no matter if you have hours or a quick 30 minutes to cook.
From cookbooks to cookware and everything in between, this is your go-to cheat sheet for whipping up a spicy storm in the kitchen.
One of London’s best loved Indian restaurants, Dishoom, serves up mouth-watering curries, stews and delicious bacon naan rolls (the best way to eat breakfast in our opinion), all inspired by Bombay cafe culture and now you can (attempt to) make its dishes for yourself at home.
The restaurant’s self-titled cookbook (£17.16, Amazon.co.uk) is a great addition to your kitchen shelves. Dishoom’s chicken ruby curry, which is cooked in a rich sauce full of spice and flavour, is a winner that will have you going back for more.
Featuring in our guide to the best restaurant cookbooks, our reviewer said the book is a must-have, “whether you’re a longtime fan, or simply love Indian cuisine, and are looking to recreate the signature dishes at home”. The authors also take you on a journey throughout Bombay, where beautiful photography gives readers an insight into the culture and is all cleverly woven throughout the traditional dishes, which are given a modern twist.
Another great option if you love Indian food but want a veggie specific cookbook, is Ottolenghi Flavour (£17.36, Amazon.co.uk), which features in our guide to the best vegetarian cookbooks.
Described as a great option for meals that will impress, our tester said that this book “focuses on the things that bring out the best of a vegetable’s flavour: the cooking process, what you pair it with and knowing when to let it shine alone”.
They added that many of the recipes take the form of “riffs on classic meals” and “novel, imagination-sparking plates”, including stuffed aubergine in a curry and coconut dal.
If you’re in need of a helping hand when it comes to cooking, there are plenty of curry kits that have the perfect measurements of essential ingredients to help you make tasty dishes that would rival a restaurant.
In our guide to the best curry kits, Boom Kitchen’s pick 'n' mix flexible subscription (£15 a month, Boomkitchen.co.uk) won best buy. In each kit you’ll find three to four sachets of everything you need to make a meal for four people, including spice mixes and stocks, coconuts and dried chillies, all of which are vegan-friendly.
Each dish will take around 25 minutes to make and are perfect for hosting a curry night, which means less cooking for you and guaranteed satisfied guests.
Our reviewer made the “jalfrezi heatwave” with lamb, and described the finished result as “terrific, and really had that authentic je ne sais quoi, which is often lacking from homemade curries.”
A more budget-friendly option that we loved was this Hari Ghotra tikka masala (£3.50, Harighotra.co.uk), created by Indian chef and blogger Hari Ghotra. There are 12 curry house favourites to choose from, so whether bhuna, korma or makhani tickle your tastebuds, you’re not short of options.
Each kit contains mini spice bags that are designed to be ground, soaked or fried. According to our reviewer, most of the recipes require a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, half a dozen fresh ingredients, a protein, then perhaps onion, ginger, yoghurt to create the dishes which, while we found it to be more time-consuming, was well worth it.
“We were blown away by the success of our chicken tikka masala, which easily rivalled most curry houses’ and outclassed previous time-consuming attempts at cooking the dish from scratch,” our tester said. “The depth of flavour and that hard-to-achieve smoky flavour combined with the classically rich and creamy masala was remarkable and we’ll be purchasing this particular in bulk and avidly cooking our way through the rest of the range too.”
Since recipe boxes first became popular, they have since evolved past just boxes of vegetables, and instead now offer a plethora of ways to make mealtimes exciting and expand your culinary repertoire.
In our guide to the best recipe box and food delivery kits, the DabbaDrop ready-to-heat (£28, Dabbadrop.co.uk) is like an elevated takeaway experience, without the mountains of plastic boxes that can often turn up from a Deliveroo drop off. DabbaDrop is a premium service that delivers all its meals, that feed two or four adults packaged in a dabba – a traditional Indian box – wrapped in cloth and carefully hand-delivered, and currently only available in some areas of east London, but they are expanding.
If you sign up to the subscription you pay £15 for the tins, which are exchanged each week, meaning there's no waste or plastic used. Each order will contain rice, two curries and a veg or salad dish, which are handmade by Anshu, who created the service with her neighbour, Renee, to provide plastic-free takeaways to Londoners.
The week we sampled, the food was inspired by Sri Lanka, and our testers tried a kottu roti (a seasonal veggie stir fry with fried roti strips), a rich and unctuous tomato and aubergine pol curry, a vibrant beetroot dal, red rice and handmade roti. “The portion fed two, but because it was so delicious, we easily could have eaten more,” our tester said.
If you’re committed to making a handmade dish from scratch, ensure you have all the tools at your disposal to make you more efficient. A slow cooker is an easy way to put together a meal that requires hours of cooking, without the need to be standing by the stove at all times.
“The large capacity was a real bonus too,” they said, adding that this meant they could make meals that lasted the whole family for more than a day or batch cook huge portions.
Another essential is a set of sharp knives to help you finely chop up meat and veg into bitesize pieces, especially if you’ll be feeding kids.
In our guide to the best kitchen knives, the set we loved the most was the Zwilling pro (£229, Zwilling-shop.com), which includes a versatile paring knife, a slim slicing knife (often referred to as a carving knife), and a wider chef’s knife. Our tester said the knives were “excellent quality”, adding that the blades are “super sharp and made from ice-hardened steel, which means they should last for years (they come with a lifetime warranty)”.
Whichever type of curry you’re going to make, you’re going to need a good quality saucepan set to cope with each element of the recipe.
Of all the best saucepan sets we tried, the Tefal ingenio expertise complete pan set (£262.99, Amazon.co.uk) impressed us the most, as it’s a space-saving collection that’s versatile and each piece is sturdy.
“The frying pans and wok have Tefal’s thermo-spot technology which indicates when your pans reach optimum cooking temperature – a perfect feature for novices to the kitchen and cooked our meat and vegetables perfectly, without burning them,” our tester said.
Best of all, once you’re done, you can simply put them in the dishwasher to clean and save yourself scrubbing out the remains of a veggie curry in the washing up bowl.
For the latest offers on kitchen appliances, try the links below:
Looking for more curry-making inspiration? Read our guide to the best curry kits to use at home
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