These 3 curry recipes will have you piling on the rice

  • Lifestyle
  • Sunday, 26 Jul 2015

Recipes by DEBBIE TEOH

The first curry recipe in English – To Make A Currey The India Way, published in 1747 by Hannah Glasse – had the portions being the reverse of what is served today.

What had originally been an Indian sauce to go with rice became an English stew of chicken or rabbit with a spoonful of rice in it.

Now, don’t get the misinformed English folks wrong. Who could say no to the thick, creamy, spicy or sweet curry?

There is just something about curry with its intense colour and flavours, brought to life by a mixture of herbs and spices. Good oil is essential in all curries as it is the medium which carries the spices, and without it, the spices taste harsh and lack flavour and aroma.

One good oil to use in curries is red palm oil, which is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It should not be confused with palm kernel oil, which is derived from oil palm seeds or kernels. The “red palm oil” name is attributed to the oil’s dark red hue in its unprocessed natural state.

According to an article written by alternative health expert Bryce Wylde and published on, the red colour of the palm fruit oil is due to its high contents of carotenes, including beta-carotene and lycopene.

“These antioxidant nutrients are the same ones that give tomatoes and carrots and other fruits and vegetables their rich red and orange colours. What may shock you is that red palm fruit oil contains more antioxidants than tomatoes or carrots. Red palm fruit oil is also densely packed with numerous tocotrienols – a powerful form of vitamin E,” says Wylde.

In an article published in the British Journal of Biomedical Science entitled “Red palm oil: nutritional, physiological and therapeutic roles in improving human wellbeing and quality of life”, this “protective” effect is probably due to the ratio of red palm oil’s saturated fatty acid to unsaturated fatty acid content, and its high concentration of antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamin E (in the form of tocotrienols and tocopherols).

It has also been reported that the consumption of red palm oil reduces the level of endogenous cholesterol, and this seems to be due to the presence of Vitamin E tocotrienols and the peculiar isomeric position of its fatty acids.

Wylde says that research shows that the antioxidant power of red palm oil can be of help in protecting against a variety of health problems, including osteoporosis, asthma, cataracts, arthritis, and liver disease.

Besides its many health benefits, cooks use red palm oil as it gives curries a bold and intense colour. The oil is sometimes even drizzled on food to add colour to dishes.

Red palm oil is healthy and makes food look and taste good. Now, what more can we ask for?



Butter chicken masala is an authentic Punjabi recipe. This is famous around the world due to its mild spice and often creamy and buttery richness.It can also be made a bit spicy if you prefer that way.

Garam masala (or use store-bought)

1½ tsp cumin seeds

1½ tsp fennel seeds

¾ tsp cardamom seeds (from the pods)

¼ tsp black peppercorns

1 small stick of cinnamon

4 cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg powder

550g chicken breast meat, cubed


1 tbsp thick yoghurt

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp coriander powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp ground ginger

¼ tsp lemon juice

80g margarine or ghee, or a mixture, for frying

1 bay leaf

8 cardamom pods

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 tbsp red chilli powder

2 tbsp tomato puree

150ml water

100ml thick coconut milk

To make garam masala

Heat a heavy pan and dry-fry the spices (except the nutmeg) over low to medium heat for a few seconds until aromatic.

Tip into a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Add the nutmeg powder. The garam masala will keep in a glass jar in the fridge for several months.

To cook

Marinate chicken with the combined marinade ingredients overnight. The next day, either grill the marinated chicken or pan-fry using margarine (about 25g) until browned.

In a pan or wok, melt the margarine or ghee over medium heat. Add the bay leaf and cardamoms. Add ginger-garlic paste and chilli powder, and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Add browned chicken and tomato puree, season with salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add water, and continue to cook until chicken is tender. Lower heat, add coconut milk and cook, stirring, to the preferred thickness. Turn off heat and add a dollop of butter (optional).

Serve hot, garnished with a swirl of cream and coriander leaves. Serve with lime rice, etc.


2 heaped tbsp margarine or ghee

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 cups cooked rice, fluffed up

salt to taste

grated rind from 2-3 limes or lemon

To prepare lime rice

Heat margarine, add the mustard seeds and cook until it pops. Add the fluffed up rice and turn off heat immediately. Add some salt and stir in the grated lime rind.


2 tbsp carotino or palm oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 sprigs curry leaves

3 stalks dried chillies, cut into 1cm lengths

150g cooked chickpeas

salt to taste

Heat the oil and sauté the mustard seeds; add the curry leaves and chillies over high heat. Add chickpeas and salt to taste. Turn off heat and serve as a side dish or snack.

Lamb meatball curry with mint and yoghurt sauce.


500g minced lamb

20g cornflour

3 sprigs curry leaves, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

150ml palm or carotino oil, or a mixture, for pan-frying

1 big onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 sprigs curry leaves

Spice paste, finely ground:

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

15g ginger

3 shallots, sliced

3-5 tbsp water

30g meat curry powder

700ml water

125ml thick coconut milk

salt to taste

Mint and yoghurt chutney

100ml thick natural yoghurt

50g mint leaves

salt to taste

Combine the lamb with cornflour, curry leaves, salt and pepper. Shape the meat mixture into medium-sized balls and arrange on a plate. Set aside for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Heat enough palm oil in a non-stick pan, and pan-fry the meatballs, turning to brown evenly.

Remove from pan and drain the meatballs on paper towels. Remove some of the oil in the pan.

Heat the remaining oil and fry the onion, garlic and curry leaves until onion starts to brown. Add the spice paste and fry until fragrant, stirring continuously.

Add water and let the curry simmer for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer for 5 minutes more. Lastly, add the coconut milk. Turn off heat once it comes to a boil. Serve as is, or with a mint and yoghurt chutney.

For the mint and yoghurt chutney

Place everything in a blender and hit pulse 2-3 times. Season with some salt.

Prawn and pumpkin curry.


6-8 tbsp carotino or palm oil

1 heaped tsp mixed halba spices

1 big onion, peeled and sliced

1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3 parts and bruised

2 pandan leaves, cut into 3cm lengths

3-4 kaffir lime leaves, torn

30g fish curry powder, mixed with 5 tbsp water to make a paste

750ml water

200g pumpkin, peeled and cut into large cubes

250g prawns, peeled and marinated with 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

125ml thick coconut milk

salt to taste

100g frozen green peas

Heat the oil, add the halba mix, onion, lemongrass, pandan leaves, and kaffir lime leaves. Saute until onions are slightly browned.

Then add the curry paste and continue frying until it is fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add water and pumpkin, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender.

Add the marinated prawns and coconut milk, season to taste with salt.

Once prawns are cooked – in about 2 minutes – add the frozen peas and turn off heat.

Serve with steaming hot rice, naan, or crusty bread.

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