Real mutton has big flavour, ideal for a curry as the flavour stands up to the spices. But lamb will still give superb results. I am using Hogget( an age in between Lamb and mutton) Cheaper cuts will give best results. If your meat is already cut (sometimes a better option), try and get pieces not too small.
Browning the meat brings great flavour to any stew or curry. Browning the meat is searing the outside without cooking the meat. This is why tiny bits of meat should be avoided; they will cook right through and be tough. A few won’t hurt, they will enhance the dish. Observe the pictures of brown caramelised meat, not grey. The odd burnt bit will not hurt.
Tempering whole spices (warming them in a pan), is easy and makes a difference. It is normal to do this in India. Whole spices last longer . Asian shops are cheaper than a supermarket. They have a higher turnover, so are usually fresher. I have used ground and whole spices and ground spices before now. Biting in to bits of coriander seed is not so nice. So ground spice is in at the moment. Some spices are added whole Cardamom and cinnamon are two I can think of
Onion Garlic and Ginger are popular bases for curries. I sometimes run out of ginger, guess what happens. Sliced onion, and crushed garlic with chopped ginger. Blitzing onion garlic and ginger with a little water and then frying the blitzed paste for 5 minutes, to remove the raw flavour. Chopped onion and garlic. It’s all good.
Chilli? The heat is up to you, dried or fresh? What have you got. I am using fresh ones of a plant I bought. Learning to handle more heat is a great thing. There are some unique flavours at the top end of the scale. The South Devon Chilli shop is an amazing place.
Another element is liquid, water, stock. Remember stock cubes are mostly salt. I sometimes sieve the water off after cooking reduce it over heat until its stronger in taste, then add stock cube to taste, I control the seasoning(amount of salt) going in the curry.
Here is a great link explaining Indian spice
Other things – Tamarind (a sharp flavour, used in sweet and sour dishes)
Coconut – great for sweetening and making rich, don’t add to much, it will become sickly.
Jaggery, I can’t get this, so chances on nor can you, replace with brown sugar or palm sugar. In India it is easier to get , possibly London or Birmingham . Used to sweeten curries. I am looking for it when I am in London. Watching it being made on T.V. was amazing.
½ tspcumin, 1tspcoriander, 1/2tspn fennel seeds .Add a whole cinnamon stick two cracked open cardamom pods. On top of the fried onion garlic base (1 onion two garlic cloves). If using ginger thumb nail size or a bit more. Two would be fine. Enough stock to ¾ cover, almost cover, or cover the meat. How long? I cooked for 1.5 hrs. at a low simmer, just blipping a bubble
Usually an average put you off scary long curry recipe has about 20 ingredients. With way too much to comprehend for the first time or novice cook. K.I.S.S., this is an acronym aimed at myself and other novices: Keep it Simple Stupid .
Chopped Coriander or mint crowns a curry. Serve with Basmati rice.