Indian restaurant dopiaza curry is all about spices and onions with some tomato thrown in for good measure. It’s from the Hyderabad region of India so technically it’s a South Indian homestyle curry that’s been adapted to work in restaurants. If you like onions, and you like curry, you’ll like Indian restaurant dopiaza curry.
There’s a bit of a legend around it’s origin. It was invented by accident when the cook of a Moghul emperor accidentally added way too many onions to a dish. The cooks name was Do Piaza and his name lives on in this dish. Seems unlikely but who am I to question legend.
Dopiaza means two onions in Persian. But it’s not really two onions. It’s onion two ways. Finely diced onion is added at the beginning and pre-fried large pieces of onion are added right at the end. Doesn’t seem like a big deal but it makes for a great curry.
This is a master dopiaza curry recipe. You can make it with pre-cooked chicken, lamb, beef or use paneer, pre-cooked potatoes, mixed vegetables or fried eggplant for vegan options.
Before you start do your prep. That’s important. Make your curry base and have some heated and ready to go. Pre-cook your meat. Measure out your ingredients. Have everything ready. Put on an apron – a bit of splatter is part of the fun.
If you have not read the guide to Indian restaurant technique yet, do it now. It has pictures to help you understand the recipe. There’s also a guide to Indian ingredients in that post.
- 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix or curry powder
- ½ tsp kashmiri chili powder or ⅛ tsp cayenne mixed with ⅜ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp kasoor methi
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- pinch of coarse black pepper
- 3 Tbsp oil
- ½ onion, coarsely chopped
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 1 Tbsp garlic/ginger paste
- 1 green chili, seeded and minced
- 1 Tbsp cilantro stalks, minced
- 1½ Tbsp tomato paste with enough water to dilute to the consistency of pasatta
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro stems
- 15 oz curry base
- ½ tsp sugar
- 10-12 oz pre-cooked chicken or lamb
- Make the spice mix.
- Pre-cook the coarsely chopped onion. Heat your skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and fry the onions until the edges just start to turn brown. Remove onions but leave the oil in the pan.
- Dilute the tomato paste with enough water to get to the consistency of passata.
- Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add the rest of the oil. Use all the oil specified. It's important.
- When the oil starts to shimmer add the finely diced onion and stir every few seconds until the onion is soft and starts to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Next comes the garlic ginger paste. Add it into the pan and cook it, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
- Stir in the green chili and minced cilantro stems and stir. Cook for another 15-20 seconds.
- Turn down the heat and add the spice mix. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn.
- Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the diluted tomato paste and stir until bubbles form (the oil will likely separate). This takes around 30 seconds to one minute depending on the heat.
- Add 3 oz of curry base. Stir until bubbles form (little craters really), around 30 seconds. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here.
- Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form. Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked lamb, beef or chicken and the sugar.
- Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don't add water.
- Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and serve.
Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.
Indian restaurants pre-cook their meat so it's ready for service. This recipe assumes the same. To pre-cook chicken, simply simmer it with a bit of curry powder and salt in chicken stock for about 10-15 minutes - until it's barely cooked.
To pre-cook lamb or beef, do the same but plan for 1 to ½ hours for lamb and 2 hours or more for beef. You are making stew meat so you are braising until tender. You will need to keep an eye on the level of the stock. For beef use beef stock.