Mamta's Kitchen

Forum Thread - RED PEPPER

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GRAZER, on 15/7/2020 10:01pm

I am sure this has been asked a million times before but I do not know how to search your data base: What do you mean when you say "red pepper"? What kind of pepper is that?

Mamta, on 16/7/2020 06:40am

Hello Grazer

Red pepper can be fresh red pepper or sweet paprika. Which recipe are you referring to please? If it is not clear, I will do that, if you let me know please.


Grazer, on 16/7/2020 06:01pm

Thank you for your reply. First of all know that I am from the West Coast of the US where curries, quite frankly are not very advanced or common, especially on the West Coast. When I ask India people for a good local restaurant, they just roll there eyes. So what the common person might know in say London, let alone India, is pretty much a mystery to me. What I am trying to do is form a base of learning from which I can expand. However the specific recipe I am looking at is the "Simple Chicken" one from this article in the Guardian which introduced me to your wonderful website, which I am hoping can get me going.

I should say that there seems to be a lot of currie recipes refer to one or two "red peppers", but I never can quite figure out what type they are taking about. On the west coast here we use a lot of Fresno peppers or Jalapeños.

In addition can you recommend a book(s) for the absolute beginner?

Thank you so much.

GRAZER, on 16/7/2020 07:38pm

To add:

In your reply you refer to "fresh red pepper". What kind of a pepper is that?

Thank you.

Helen Bach, on 17/7/2020 12:10am

I think what red pepper refers to is what you call bell peppers. The correct name is capsicum.

GRAZER, on 17/7/2020 01:49am

HI HELEN. Thank you. But my impression is that the red peppers in question in these recipes bring a bit of spice, i.e. heat. (or sometimes quite of bit of spice.) Bell peppers have little to no spice. We use them frequently.

Mamta, on 17/7/2020 04:52pm

Hello Grazer

Curry is in interesting word. Although I have used it on this website, a typical Indian dish will not be called a curry in India. For chicken for example, there will be titles like;

Karahi chicken (karahi is the wok like Indian pan it is cooked in),

Butter chicken

Methi (methi=fenugreek) Chicken

Chicken Palak (palak = spinach)

Mughlai Chicken will be a rich chicken dish cooked like it might have been in Maharajas kitchens

Chettinad Chicken Curry will be cooked in the style of Chettinad/Tamil Nadu style.

As I come from north India, many, but not all, of my recipes represent that region, perhaps one of the most popular recipes abroad until recently, when new, progressive chefs are introducing regional cuisine all the time. Good Indian restaurants are now by very well trained and progressive chefs, who do not use the same, generic 'curry sauce' for everything they serve on their menu.

Yes I remember the article you mention very well. I don’t agree with it entirely, but it is near enough to what I say. You don’t have to use onion-ginger-garlic and even tomatoes in every curry, it depends upon what you are making. Also, you don’t have to use spices generously, as the article indicate. They have to be fresh and used to enhance the flavour of whatever it is you are cooking. So you use spices according to what is your main ingredients. You don’t want to drown the flavour of your main ingredients by over spicing.

This probably is the most common way I would make a chicken curry;

Mums Chicken Curry

I have following basic curry sauce recipes on my website, but these do not cover the entire Indian range by any means;

Basic Curry Sauce 1 For Meat, Chicken, Fish or Vegetables And Variations

Basic Curry Sauce 2 with Yoghurt & Sesame Seeds

Basic Curry Sauce 3, South Indian

Basic Curry Sauce 4, With No Onions Or Garlic

Basic Curry Sauce 5, Creamy With Cashew Nuts

Basic Curry Sauce 6 With Pre-fried Onions (Quick)

Red pepper to a north Indian like me will mean a sweet pepper or what you would call red Bell Pepper, as Helen says.

I am not sure if many north Indian curries mentions 1-2 red peppers, if they are written by an Indian. At least I have not come across them.

When you buy chilli powder from an Indian grocer, they are likely to be labelled as follows;

Kashmiri Chilli powder. This is very mildly hot

Chilli Powder, Hot

Chilli Powder, Extra hot

Paprika Powder or Sweet chilli powder, not at all hot, used mainly for colour and flavour.

Some Indian shops will sell Habanero Chilli powder, which as you know, is very very hot.

I haven’t bought any Indian cook book in a while, but something like Atul Kochar's 'Simple Indian' will be good. I like his recipes and his style of cooking.

Best wishes


GRAZER, on 17/7/2020 11:30pm

Thank you!! What a comprehensive reply. You are generous to take the time.

Indeed I am learning that the "curry" word is a bit limiting, but in does seem that the Brits, who if I am correct came up with it, apply the word very liberally in England, wouldn't you agree. The benefit of the "Basic Curry Sauce 1" is that it gives a relative newcomer a reference point. After making the sauce last night I found that I would probably eliminate much of the garam masala (it tastes too sweet) and use more ginger. I also made the mistake of using olive oil, which is staple in our home. This meant that when I added the spices I could not get them to a very high heat. I will probably be adjusting and learning from that one recipe for quite a while. So while I am learning to crawl, the "curry" concept kind of keeps me in a manageable, if somewhat misleading area. And I will be looking closely at all of your basic recipes. Again, thank you so much for your time. It is very much appreciated.

Mamta, on 18/7/2020 11:21am

Hello Grazer

You are most welcome! Be aware that I don't check this column every day. As I get old, I am slowing down and usually check these things when I have finished my routine jobs.

If curry word makes it easier for you to understand what you are making, go for it. After all, I have used it in many of my recipes, so that people who are looking for a recipe, understand the title. You are right, Curry is often used as a synonym of Indian meal. People often say, "lets go for a curry" or Friday is a Curry night in our house.

I am not sure if I understand that your Garam Masala is too sweet, unless you have a lot of cinnamon in it and not enough black pepper. See here;

Garam Masala. after saying that, you must adjust a 'curry' to your taste, whatever that may be.

100% rapeseed oil is pretty good, my preferred option for making dishes that require high heat.

Enjoy your curries learning days, reminds me of my youth!


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