My thoughts on Vegan Madras Curry
Madras Curry Ultimate Vegan Spice and Sauce Recipe is one of the most popular curries out there. I can see why because it packs huge flavor, and it has some heat too! This is the most common curry stateside and, in the UK, as well. I personally love this curry especially in my particular diet because eating meat substitutes can be brutal if you do not have different ways of introducing flavor into your recipes. Look no further, you will not be complaining about flavor after reading this.
History of Madras Curry
Madras curry spice gets its name from the old Indian city, Madras, but it is known now as Chennai. The spices history causally relates to British Colonial rule in India. This spice is definitely not as hot as some of the Indian spice blends, I have tried, but it has a little kick. Although the madras spice blend contains Indian ingredients, it is not an Indian spice blend. This blend was essentially made to suit the British diets and tastes. It is said the earliest Madras curry spice was sold at Leicester depot during the mid-19th century.
This curry is not recognized in India as much as it is in Great Britain. This curry spice does have a place in the world of curry though. Madras was first used to create a kind of curry scale in restaurants that help customers understand the level of heat the rest of the items on the menu have to offer. Although the level of heat and chiles in a dish does not really define Indian food, it is a good thing to know.
This dish originated from the southern part of India. The flavor profile for this dish relates to the region very well, due to the fact that they are both hot! This dish is of Hindu origin, so it is traditionally made with vegetables. It is also served with yogurt or coconut to mild or eliminate the spiciness.
Now days the madras curry powder is widely known across the world. The formations of this curry powder are similar but not the same. This leads to different flavor profiles in different cultures, but all in all the overall earthiness prevails throughout.
What is Madras Curry?
The madras curry is a thick tomato based, hot and spicy sauce usually with stewed vegetables. The typical flavor profile is tangy and earthy. Spiciness does not really fall under the flavor profile category; spiciness tends to be its own category. The heat that you experience when eating this madras curry comes from chili peppers.
Madras curry gets is spice from cayenne pepper in most instances. If this proves to be too spicy for you, which I do not blame you at all, then you can always substitute the cayenne with chili powder or ancho powder.
How to Use Madras Curry
This spice will definitely put some dynamite flavor in your recipes. You can add a little spice or paste into your vegetables to give them and extra kick. I have also seen soup recipes that utilize this particular flavor profile.
For vegetables, throw a little bit of paste with some canned tomatoes and stew your favorite vegetables in the sauce. I have seen some delicious summer squash (eggplant, crook neck squash, zucchini, etc.) curries that are so good! You can also do this with winter squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, etc.) too. Do not forget about other root vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, onions, and many others. Potatoes really benefit from being stewed over a long period of time. Seriously if you have not had curried potatoes, you need to try it!
If you find your self making soups that do not have a lot of flavor, or you want to get more out of them. Try using a little of this madras spice, to bulk up some flavor. There is nothing like a curried butternut squash soup during the cold months of the year! I have also tried a super delicate curried cauliflower soup that is rocking!
Health Benefits of Madras Curry
The Madras curry contains multiple ingredients. Most of these ingredients have health benefits as well. These health benefits include different minerals, fiber, and vitamins. Minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron are found in this particular spice mix. The spices that offer these minerals differ from each spice mix, but the common spices are turmeric, cumin, and fenugreek.
You will also find the madras Curry is high in Vitamins and fiber. Coriander and fenugreek are the best sources of fiber but there are other spices that will help boost fiber as well. Certain spices offer high quantities of vitamins as well. Spices such as dried chilis, chili powders, and turmeric offer high sources of vitamin A and Vitamin C.
These nutrients listen above are used to help treat or prevent certain diseases as well. I am in no way saying that madras curry cures these diseases, all I am saying is that it contains nutrients that are found in certain treatments.
One of these diseases is diabetes. Studies have shown that curcumin in turmeric has been shown to stabilize blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity.
The fiber in madras curry also helps with high cholesterol. It is known that fiber helps your body absorb cholesterol into the blood. Fenugreek has also been known to reduce cholesterol levels.
How to Make Madras Curry
Making the Madras curry can be broken up into three parts. The reason being is because each different curry form has a slightly different method of production. The different forms of curry are as follows; Spice, Paste, and sauce. I am going to briefly go over each in this section.
The spice is remarkably simple to make. You simply toast your spices to bring out their true flavor, and then grind them into a powder. There are a few ways to do this though. You can do this with a mortar and pestle, a spice grinder, or a blender (if you are making enough).
The paste is formed in a similar way as the spice. You begin by toasting your spices. Once your spices are toasted, they are pureed with certain vegetables and vegetable oil. You may see recipes with bits of onion or garlic or both. I like to use a little bit of both. You may also find a splash of vinegar here and there in certain recipes. I particularly like adding a touch of acid to my curry pastes.
The sauce utilizes both of the previous methods. You toast your spices and make your puree with onion and garlic. Next you stew the spicy paste with tomatoes. You can use canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes. In this application, I like to use canned tomatoes. They provide a deep and robust flavor for you to build your sauce off of.
Madras Curry Tricks and Tips
It is especially important to use high quality spices when making these recipes. You want to use the best spices you can find, and you also want to make sure your spices are fresh. If you have had spices for a while it may be time to buy new.
To achieve the best flavor from your curry powder or paste, you need to toast your spices separately. All spices toast at different rates, so if you toast them all together some will be toasted and some will be half toasted. This step is not absolutely necessary, but if you are looking to achieve maximum flavor; this is how you do it.
If you have garam masala in your recipe, it is important not to add it during the cooking process. Garam masala is a delicious and delicate blend of spices. If you want to get its full flavor be sure to add to your curry after it is cooked. It should be one of the last things you add.
Since madras curry I the lone wanderer of the curry world, it is always subject to customization. I love this aspect of the recipe because you can really tweak it to fit the application you need it for. For example, if you are going to make curried carrots; then maybe you bump up the coriander in your curry. You could also implement a little extra cinnamon. Its up to you.
Cooking with curry requires time and patience, just like everything in the food world I am afraid. If you are using curry powder in your cooking, you want to follow a few steps to get the best flavor. When currying with powder, start with frying your spices in the cooking oil before adding your vegetables or meat substitute. Once you begin to add your ingredients to the cooking process let the curry simmer and cook slowly. Simmering your curry slowly will help you get the desired tenderness, and it will also allow the spices to set into what ever your cooking.
Seasoning your curry is vital in getting good product. When making the paste, add you salt towards the end of the frying process. If making a tomato curry, a little sugar can really help take the harsh acidity away.
To store curry powder, place it in an airtight container outside of sunlight until you need it. Try not to keep your spice above the oven or stove top, because spices are sensitive to heat.
To store the paste there are a few differences you need to take into consideration. First off, the paste needs to be stored in cold storage. This is because chances are there is garlic, onion, or ginger pureed into it. Secondly, it is smart to store the paste in a screw top container, like a mason jar for example. Be sure to cover the top of the paste with a thin layer of oil in the mason jar. This will ensure absolute freshness.
Madras Curry Powder
Perks: Fits Any Diet
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- 2 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
- 1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
- 4 Inch Cassia Bark
- 12 each Green Cardamom Pods
- 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
- 5 long Kashmiri Chiles, dried
- 25 small Curry Leaves
- 2 Tbsp Ground Turmeric
- Toast the first 7 ingredients in a dry pan. You want to toast them separately, about 30 seconds to 1 minute in a pan per spice. You will know they are toasted when they are fragrant.
- Now toast the curry leaves, throw them in a hot and dry pan and toast them for 30 – 45 second. The outer edges should become crisp, crumbly, and brown. Remove from the pan and let cool.
- Once all of the spices are cooled down, combine all ingredients in a spice grinder or a blender, and blend to a powder.
- Store in an airtight container away from sunlight and heat.
Madras Curry Paste
Perks: Fits Any Diet
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- 3 Tbsp Madras Curry Powder
- 1 small Yellow Onion
- 4 Clove Garlic
- 1 inch Fresh Ginger
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Garam Masala
- Combine everything in a food processor and blend into a paste.
- You can store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Spiceography. “Madras Curry Powder: The Classic British Curry.” SPICEography, 13 Nov. 2017, www.spiceography.com/madras-curry-powder/.