Curry favour with punters

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Related tags: Indian cuisine

WHEN CUSTOMERS wend their way off your premises, where are they going? Chances are, more than a few will be stopping at an Indian restaurant for a...

WHEN CUSTOMERS wend their way off your premises, where are they going? Chances are, more than a few will be stopping at an Indian restaurant for a takeaway or sit-down meal.

While no-one would deny these hard-working restaurateurs their right to make a living, a little healthy competition never hurts. Consumers like ethnic food, and in the managed pub sector, Asian and Oriental flavours are the fastest growing menu area - so maybe it's past time for your pub to grab a piece of this action.

It's relatively simple to move beyond the classic pub chicken curry and chips. One plus point is that there are no hard-and-fast rules about ingredients, so pub cooks can use a combination of flair, imagination and leftovers to make some great Indian dishes.

That should be countered with a note of caution that consumers can be very passionate about curries and will expect authentic ingredients and flavours. The meat should be good quality with minimal water content to reduce the likelihood of shrinkage. As an alternative, vegetables such as potatoes take Indian spices well, as do products such as Quorn.

A good quality sauce will ensure the necessary flavour authenticity. Five new varieties have been added to the Knorr Patak's range, made to genuine recipes using traditional Indian herbs and spices. They are:

  • Spicy Tikka Masala. A richer, spicier version of the favourite sauce
  • Dopiaza or 'double onion'
  • Sweet Peshwari Korma. A delicately flavoured variation including sultanas and tomatoes
  • Low Fat Tikka Masala. With less than one per cent fat.
  • Korma Light Sauce. A lighter alternative to the original Korma sauce.

Using a premium sauce helps to overcome the real concerns of many pubs about the level of skills available in the kitchen. It also gives pubs the chance to focus on some of the frills around the edges - interesting accompaniments and garnishes can give a standard curry a unique identity, while large white plates and authentic silver serving bowls or balti dishes are all visual cues which give the meal an authentic feel.

Keeping it real

Serving with rice, poppadoms and offering a bottle of authentic beer as part of an all-in price will all help to drive sales. Knorr's chefs suggest the following touches to add authenticity:

  • add more colour, texture and value to a korma with some quartered mushrooms, chopped spinach and a dash of single cream
  • create a murgh mirch by adding thinly sliced red and green peppers to chicken in a tikka masala sauce
  • serve chicken korma with rice and top with toasted almonds, mango chutney, naan bread and poppadums on the side
  • dips like raita and lime pickle deliver an authentic Indian experience
  • offer a thali (individual dishes served together as a main course) of chicken tikka masala, cucumber raita, samosas and onion bhajis
  • - a baguette filled with warm chicken tikka masala, garnished with salad, makes a different lunchtime or snack option.

Indian food guide

Some like it hot, but others prefer it mild. Pubs won't be able to feature every flavour all the time, but mix and match the menu regularly to ensure there's something for everyone. This is not a full list of ingredients, just a guide to the main flavours.

Mild curries:

  • Tikka - tamarind and paprika
  • Pasanda - almond and coconut
  • Butter chicken - flavoured with tomato, garlic, ginger and tamarind
  • Korma - coconut and almond

Mild/medium:

  • Bhuna - tomato and onion
  • Dopiaza - tomato and onion
  • Dhansak - cumin, coriander and chilli

Medium:

  • Balti - a blend of tomatoes, onion, cumin and chilli
  • Biryani - rice and meat or vegetables cooked together, accompanied by a vegetable curry
  • Rogan Josh - tomato and cardamom
  • Tikka Masala - mixed spices, coriander and lemon

Medium hot:

  • Karai - garlic, ginger, tomato and chilli
  • Jalfrezi - sweet peppers, chilli and coconut

Hot:

  • Vindaloo - tomato, chilli and cumin
  • Madras - tomato and coriander

Very hot:

  • Phaal - chilli, and lots of it

For some great Indian recipes using Knorr Patak Indian sauces, and a chance to win some of the new Knorr Patak sauces, click on the links on the right

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