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Celebrate the awesomeness of spice!

Who wants to give their curries real depth, aroma and authentic flavour?

Is it that spicy food in Europe is different to other continents or maybe my idea of “spicy” differs from the palate here, but I’ve noticed that there’s a definite lack of spicy heat from across the pond. Don’t worry I’m not one of those spice-aholics who carries around spicy chilli flakes in my handbag, but once in a while I do appreciate the warm, tingly sensation of a delectable spicy dish.

Living in Spain and after eating many sensational meals I somewhat, well definitely have spice cravings but to make a curry proves difficult at times when I don’t have all the fresh ingredients, which is tricky. So this weekend I needed something that totally needed to hit the spot and that would help my cravings. I wanted something hearty and spicy and that was fast and easy.

The secret, I made a rich tasting home-made Gujarati curry paste. A paste with fragrance and a richness that comes from the secret of slowly cooking the onions to create full flavour. Basically a paste all dressed up but when you spoon in a handful, a much needed spicy punch comes through.

The best part about this paste, it can be kept in the freezer and stored for weeks and when you’re looking for something authentic and quick, all you need to do is head to the freezer, add your delicious paste to create hearty, quick curry.

Ingredients:
(fits a 500ml mason jar)

1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cloves
1 bulb garlic, peeled
4 inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
A small handful of fresh red chillies
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red onions, finely diced
3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons coriander-cumin powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1/4 juice fresh lemon

Method:

First prepare the fresh ingredients, place the ginger, garlic and red chillies into a blender. Squeeze in the lemon juice and blitz into a fresh paste and set aside.

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To make the paste, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the whole spices (green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves) and fry until they start to crackle. Once crackling carefully spoon out the whole spices using a strainer spoon and discard. (the purpose of the whole spices is to only flavour the oil, keeping them in will only over power the other ingredients, therefore loosing the freshness and the subtle flavours of the paste)

Once the whole spices have been removed, add in the onions and cook the onions gently and slowly until caramelised and dark brown.

Once caramelised, add in the fresh ginger-garlic-chilli paste and fry gently for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile place the tomatoes into a blender and blitz to a fine pulp, add to the onions and also add the salt, red chilli powder, cumin-coriander powder and garam masala powder and simmer on a slow heat.

When the tomatoes begin to melt down and oil comes to the surface of the sauce add the tomato purée and mix well and voilà your paste is ready.

Allow to cool and spoon into a mason jar and refrigerate.

Tips:

Lemon juice adds unique flavour and keeps the colour of the ingredients fresh.
Only use the whole spices to infuse into the oil, to give a more refined flavour to the curry paste.

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