BIR Style Mixed Vegetable Vindaloo

BIR stands for British Indian Restaurant and refers to the unique style of curry found in British Indian takeaways and restaurants, it bears little resemblance to any traditional Indian cookery but is a taste that some people love (myself included). A whole community exists dedicated to recreating this taste at home and the best I’ve found is Curry Recipes Online.

BIR style curries are made using a curry “base” or gravy which is used in all the different types of curry that a restaurant or takeaway might offer and the final dish is only distinguished by the final cooking process. Takeaways use this method as it means they can create many different dishes quickly with only a few extra ingredients. Preparing the base is quite time consuming, among other things this one required peeling and chopping 8 onions and a bulb and a half of garlic which wasn’t much fun but the result is enough to make eight generous portions of curry and can be frozen so can last a long time. It also gives you the same benefit that the takeaways like it for – a quick final process whereby you can rustle up a curry in 10 minutes and it’s the only way to get close to “the taste” of a true BIR.

I decided to use the Bruce Edwards base and curry recipe and for this first one the only thing I changed was to add 4 parts of paprika to the spice mix which he describes in others posts as being an optional extra element.

For the vegetables I used a medium potato chopped into chunks, some fresh cauliflower florets and a handful of frozen green beans and peas, all pre-boiled for 8 mins or so (put the beans & peas in part way through) in water with a bit of salt and half a teaspoon of turmeric. I then drained this and put to one side while cooking the final curry.

The base: (this makes approx 3.5L, enough for 10-12 curries)

Onions, 3 Lb. prepared weight, peeled & chopped finely. This was 8 onions for me.
Carrots, 4 Oz. prepared weight. Chopped. This was a couple of medium carrots.
Red or green pepper, 3 Oz. Chopped. This was most of a medium pepper, I used green.
Coriander, 1 Oz. Chopped (you can include stalks)
Garlic & Ginger, 1 Oz of each chopped roughly and then blended finely with some of the water
2 Rounded tablespoons of tinned chopped tomatoes
Ajowan (aka Ajwain seeds) 1 Quarter teaspoon (optional but I included it)
Salt, 1.5 Teaspoon.
Sunflower Oil. 6 Fl. Oz.
2.5 Pints Water
Spice mix, 4.5 level tablespoons
Tomato puree, 1 Rounded tablespoon

For the spice mix:

Coriander 8 teaspoons
Turmeric 7 teaspoons
Cumin 5 teaspoons
Curry Powder 4 teaspoons
Paprika 4 teaspoons (optional but I included it)
This will make more than you need for the base, leaving some extra for the curries. Use the brands of spices available from Indian shops such as TRS, Rajah, East End or Heera as they are so much better than the stuff you get in spice jars as well as being cheaper and coming in larger quantities. You can get TRS brand spices in Tesco too.

The final curry:

Sunflower oil, 1 Fl. oz/2 tablespoons
A few slivers of thinly sliced onion.
1 level teaspoon of tomato puree
0.5 teaspoon of spice mix
1 level tablespoon of extra hot chilli powder
1 small pinch of dried fenugreek leaves
2 pinches of salt
Pre-cooked mixed veg
Coriander leaves, chopped


Follow Bruce Edwards’ description here.
One thing it doesn’t mention is how much of the base to use in a portion, in another thread he says 10 fl. oz. (284ml), I actually divided mine up into 350ml portions (which gave enough for 10 individual curries) and I’ve seen others say they use as much as 500ml. It’s personal preference really depending on how much sauce you want. You can always thicken it by simmering for a little longer.

I was really pleased with how this one came out as a first attempt, it worked really well but wasn’t quite as hot as I’d have liked. Now I’ve tried it without any changes I will try some variations with more chilli powder, the addition of some fresh chillis etc. I’ll probably put a little less veg in the next one too as I think I probably overdid it a little this time.

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