Dopiaza curry is an ancient Indian dish that’s become a favourite worldwide. And it’s not surprising. Big, bold tastes of spice and lots of onions make this one seriously tasty curry.
Dopiaza hails from the Hyderabad region of India so it’s a South Indian homestyle curry that’s been adapted to work in restaurants. If you like onions, and you like curry, I think you’ll like a dopiaza curry.
Dopiaza curry gets its roots from Persian cuisine
There’s a bit of a legend around the origins of dopiaza. It was invented by accident when the cook of a Moghul emperor accidentally added way too many onions to a dish. Good thing the emperor liked onions. This could have ended badly for that cook.
The cook’s name was Do Piaza. His name lives on in this dish. Seems unlikely but who am I to question legend. It’s a good story anyway. And it’s a great curry. One that’s been refined over the years.
I like green chilies in my dopiaza curry. Big hunks of green chili. Gives it a little bit of a jalfrezi thing. That’s not so conventional. So if you want to stick to the more conventional version leave them out. Up to you.
Dopiaza means two onions
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’s the little things that make dishes great. And there’s really onions three ways in this dish. Curry base is mostly onions as well.
Cooking curries restaurant style
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 a video there too. And a guide to Indian ingredients in that post. Crash course in Indian restaurant cooking.
Dopiaza curry is popular for a reason. It’s just a simple, tasty curry. Not too fancy. Not too many ingredients. Just lets the onions shine through. Try it. Pretty sure you’ll like it.
indian restaurant dopiaza curry
The spice mix
- 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix or curry powder - recipe link below
- 1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder or 1/8 tsp cayenne mixed with 3/8 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp kasoor methi - dried fenugreek leaves
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- pinch of coarse black pepper
The curry ingredients
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 1/2 onion coarsely chopped
- 1/2 onion finely diced
- 1 Tbsp garlic/ginger paste - recipe link below
- 1 green chili seeded and minced
- 1 green chili coarsely chopped (optional)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste with enough water to dilute to the consistency of pasatta
- 1 Tbsp cilantro stems - finely chopped
- 15 oz curry base - recipe link below
- 1/2 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 and stir every few seconds until the onion is soft and starts to brown, about 3 minutes. If you are using the optional coarsely chopped green chili add it in after 2 minutes (so it cooks one minute).
- 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, the pre-cooked onions 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.