National Curry Week: P&O Food Hero Atul Kochhar Shares His Tips
09 Oct 2017
P&O Cruises offers some of the best curries at sea, and to celebrate National Curry Week, P&O's Food Hero Atul Kocchar shares his top ten tips to cooking the perfect curry at home.
1: What essential spices should a curry enthusiast keep in their spice box?
For the basics, you'll need good garam masala, black peppercorns, chilli powder, tumeric, ground coriander, and coriander seeds. I also recommend to keep some onion paste and giner-garlic paste in the freezer to save time.
2: What's the best way to store spices?
Keep spices in an airtight container (preferably stainless steel), away from direct sunlight. If stored properly, whole spices can last nine to 12 months, while powdered spices can last up to six months. Buy spices in small quantities and use them as often as you can. That way you don't end up with a cupboard full of stale spices that won't deliver on flavour.
3: Is it best to use freshly ground spice or pre-ground varieties?
If possible, grind them freshly for the best results. Pound whole spices in a pestle and mortar and you’ll release their fragrant oils and flavour.
4: Any top tips on heating up oil and spices to release the best flavour?
Frying spices in hot oil means you get as much flavour out of them as possible. Check the oil is hot enough by dropping a little spice in. If it sizzles, you can add the rest of the spices. You only need to cook spices for about a minute - be careful not to burn them, as they’ll turn bitter. Slow down the cooking process by adding onions, or whatever the next stage in your recipe is.
5: How do you chop onions and keep your eyes from stinging?
The sharpness of the knife matters. As soon as you bruise the onion it releases a series of chemical reactions. A sharp knife will cause less damage to cell walls and fewer irritants will be released - so you won’t cry so much.
6: What one gadget do you recommend investing in and why?
For the best results with spices and flavour, I recommend an electric spice grinder or a trusty pestle and mortar.
7: How hot is too hot? What’s your take on the use of chilli?
Too hot is when you can’t taste any of the ingredients in the dish. My rule of thumb is to cut a chilli in half and use a teaspoon rather than a knife to scrape out the seeds (the hottest part of the chilli). And remember, never touch your eyes afterwards.
8: What simple and effective ‘finishing touches’ do you suggest to make a plate of curry sing?
I like to garnish a curry with chopped coriander and green chillies and a pinch of fresh powdered garam masala – delicious! Always taste before serving and adjust accordingly.
9: What’s the best bit of advice your mother gave you in the kitchen?
"Success without struggle is absolutely useless; failure is a very important feeling to be able to enjoy success".
10: What one piece of advice would you pass on to budding curry chefs?
Always know your onions! Cooking onions to use in Indian food is a technical skill that takes years to perfect.
For more top tips and recipes for fabulous curries without the fuss, don’t miss Atul’s cookbook 30 Minute Curries. The collection of 90 dishes showcases Atul’s trademark mix of using the best and freshest British produce and his modern Indian style. Atul also provides an introduction to spice mixes and the best way to store these ready for use in the quick and easy recipes.
Atul Kochhar's signature restaurant, Sindhu, can be found on P&O Cruises' Aurora, Arcadia, Azura, Britannia, Oriana and Ventura. To view a sample menu, click here. Atul Kochhar will be personally onboard, these sailings listed below...
Spain, France & Italy
13 April 2018 | 14 nights | Azura
Southampton - Alicante - Barcelona - Toulon - La Spezia - Civitavecchia - Cartagena - Gibraltar - Southampton
Prices from £1049pp
Portugal & Canary Islands
21 April 2018 | 13 nights | Ventura
Southampton - Madeira - La Palma - Gran Canaria - Tenerife - Lanzarote - La Coruna - Southampton
Prices from £899pp
Spain & Portugal
4 May 2018 | 7 nights | Ventura
Southampton - Vigo - Lisbon - Oporto - St Peter Port - Southampton
Prices from £549pp
Portugal & Spain
20 July 2018 | 7 nights | Ventura
Southampton - St Peter Port - Oporto - Lisbon - Vigo - Southampton
Prices from £659pp