Archive for September, 2012

Zaal Restaurant – Curry (BIR) Garam Masala

Zaal Restaurant Garam Masala

Credits and thanks to Az and his staff @ Zaal restaurant in Fleet ( )

3 to 4 cinnamon ( Cassia bark ) sticks
1 x heaped dessert spoon green cardamom pods whole
1 x flat level dessert spoon mustard seed
3/4 ( Three quarters ) level dessert spoon onion seed
6 x bay leaves ( Indian / asian bay )
1 x level dessert spoon cumin seed
½ ( half ) level fennel seed

Dry roast in an oven on very very low heat for several hours / or even over night. When roasted grind to a fine powder using a coffee grinder.


Zaal Restaurant – Curry (BIR) Spice Mix

Zaal Restaurant Mix Powder

Credits and thanks to Az and his staff @ Zaal restaurant in Fleet ( )

This is the actual mix powder Az’s assistant at Zaal restaurant was preparing on our lesson. It was surely the biggest amount of mix powder I’ve ever seen! Obviously it needs scaling down for home use. In fact Az said it would last his chef about a week. He prefers to use East End / Natco brand of spices.

The curry powder he uses is mild madras, not Eastern Star. It’s very important to make your own garam masala. Az said most takeaways make their own and the pre made stuff is no good. He’d never heard of Jaipur garam masala although he did know of their existence of producing spices.

( All heaped chef spoons ) / ( Scale down with teaspoons )

22 x curry powder
16 x coriander
12 x cumin
15 x turmeric
2 x standard heat chilli powder
½ (half) x Garam masala


Zaal Restaurant – Curry Gravy / Garabi

Zaal Restaurant – Curry Gravy / Garabi

This base gravy / Garabi recipe is a scaled down version of the exact base that is used in the Zaal restaurant as taught by the owner Az. The recipe has not been tried on a smaller scale than this.

Credits and thanks to Az and his staff @ Zaal restaurant in Fleet ( )

Garabi - Ready to use

Onion Base Stage

Use a pot roughly eight to ten litres in capacity. The one in this example is around 10 liters capacity.

Fill it just over three quarters full of chopped English / Dutch onions. Do not use milder Spanish onions. In this example there is 4Kg of onions in the pot.

It is suggested not leave the onions whole in the pot. Chopped onions will cook more quickly (Especially if its busy in a restaurant and it makes no difference to their sweetness when cooking).

The level chef spoon volume used in this example is 3 x tablespoons capacity.

Then add:
1 x chopped carrot (100g)
1 x chopped green pepper (120g)
1 x sliced potato (140g)
1 x desert spoon of salt (15g)
1 x desert spoon of ginger / garlic paste (25g) – (50 x 50 ratio is fine)

2 x litres of water
2 x chef spoons of vegetable oil

Put the lid on and bring to the boil.

Garabi - Onion base ingredients

Boil it for at least an hour, making sure the bottom doesn’t catch. If it does add a little more water. There is not an exact cooking time as to when it’s ready. Like most things it is done by eye and when the onions begin to ‘melt’ it is time to move to the next stages.

Akhni Stock Stage

Medium saucepan on the boil and add a few Cinnamon sticks, a small handful of green cardamon pods and about six bay leaves. Leave to boil for about ten minutes then strain the mixture and put the strained water into the original onion and carrot base.

Garabi - Akhni Stock ingredients

*** Avoid just adding the whole spices to the original mixture – this may seem like a shortcut but is a recipe for disaster. You would have trouble trying to fish them out and the whole spices will never blend smooth enough to leave in the base. The Akhni stock whole spices can be recycled and used again.

Fry Spices Stage

Garabi - Fry stage ingredients

In a frying pan add:
1 x heaped chef spoon of veg ghee (100g)
1 x chef spoon of ginger / garlic paste (120g) – (50 x 50 ratio is fine)

Cook until the g&g mixture goes slightly brown.

½ (half) x chef spoon mix powder
( Zaal mix powder )
( I like to use Abdul 8 spice )
2 tsp x standard chili powder
¾ (Three quarters) x chef spoon of turmeric
4 x chef spoons blended peeled tomatoes

Garabi - Fry stage ingredients

Cook the spice mix fairly hard taking care not to burn the spices. It is important to cook the rawness out of the spices. It helps to add the blended tomatoes a spoon at a time to keep the mixture moving.

Garabi - Fry stage ingredients

After cooking for around 4 minutes add to the blended onion mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil and then leave to simmer. As it simmers on the stove top the oil will gradually rise to the surface. This is a good indicator that the base is now ready.

Garabi - Ready to blend

Leave to cool then thoroughly blend. Note that the base may need thinning with water at this stage if it is too thick.

The gravy made should be slightly sweet with just a mild curry flavour so it could be used in everything from a Vindaloo to a Tikka Massla. This quantity of ingredients will produce around 16 or more 350ml portions of gravy. If done right, you may well notice that your curry’s now actually smell of that magic aroma that one associates with a good British Indian Restaurant (BIR).