Restaurant style pathia curry has it’s roots in an ancient Persian dish. It’s been adapted to Indian cooking and again to Indian restaurant style cooking. It’s culinary Darwinism.
Like dhansak curry, it came to India as Perisans emigrated to India. They settled in Gujarat and the dish evolved to use Gujarati spices. Traditionally it was reserved for celebrations.
Restaurant style pathia curry is a medium spicy curry. Tamarind adds a nice zing. A bit of sugar adds a hint of sweet. It’ not your run of the mill curry. Something special to try.
This curry can be made with chicken, lamb, shellfish, paneer – anything really. Do your prep before you get started. 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 some old clothes – a bit of splatter is part of the fun.
If you haven’t 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
- 1 tsp hot madras curry powder (or use indian restaurant mix powder if you don't have any madras curry powder)
- 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder or ½ tsp cayenne mixed with 1½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp kasoor methi
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- Make the spice mix.
- 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 oil.
- When the oil starts to shimmer add the garlic ginger paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
- 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. This is important. The heat is what caramelizes the onion in the curry base and gives the curry it's Indian restaurant flavour. As you become more comfortable with this technique try pushing it. 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. Think lively boil. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here. Sticking is OK. Just scrape it back into the base. Burning is bad.
- 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.
- Mix in the tamarind sauce and sugar.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked lamb, beef or chicken.
- 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.