The Science Of Creating The Perfect Curry

November 20, 2013
Curry is one of those dishes I have never been able to perfect. I can make a lovely curry when I use ready made pastes or sauces. Making them from scratch has always been an arcane art to me. When Tilda Basmati rice got in touch and said they had the ultimate curry recipe and would I like to try it, I had to say yes. Tilda have been working with the University of Warwick to create the scientific formula for the perfect curry.  This must have been quite interesting work, they carefully balanced the flavours, textures and measures of a curry to create the ultimate taste sensation. I wonder how many attempts it took to get it right.

Apparently this is the scientific formula for the perfect curry, it looks at the height of the rice, the thickness of the sauce, the flavours, adds a hint of sweetness and the right amount of heat.

2010 UK Master Chef winner, Dhruv Baker has created a recipe that brings this formula to life and I attempted to recreate it. I was actually pleased with the result, it had a lovely taste and was not too hot. I am not sure that I made it look totally the way it was meant to, but I suspect that just takes practice. The fluffy Tilda Basmati rice was the perfect accompaniment.

Chicken CurryApparently the ideal curry also has the ratio of 1:1 ie one portion of meat or vegetable and sauce to rice for each forkful to include the key ingredients to create a taste sensation.

Dhruv’s Perfect Chicken Curry Recipe

This makes twice as much curry paste as needed. The other half can be frozen and kept for later use.

Serves 4


  • 75g desiccated coconut
  • 2  cinnamon sticks
  • 2  star anise
  • 3 whole dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 100ml of water
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3  red onions, finely chopped
  • 4  cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2  tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 6  tbsp fresh curry leaves
  • 8  tomatoes finely chopped
  • 500g boneless chicken thighs (skin removed)
  • 200ml water or chicken stock
  • 1  small bunch fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 1  green chilli finely chopped (optional if you like it hot!)
  • A squeeze of lemon


To make the paste

  1. Toast the coconut in a pan over a low heat, stirring gently. It will turn golden brown when it is ready.
  2. Place the coconut in a bowl and add the cinnamon sticks, dried chillies, star anise, peppercorns and fennel seeds to the pan. Roast for 3-4 minutes then add the ground corianderand chilli. Stir for a minute then add the water to from a paste and cook for two minutes.
  3. Remove the cinnamon, star anise and chillies and keep for later.
  4. Add the coconut, cinnamon powder, turmeric and salt to the pan and stir.
  5. Remove from pan and grind to a smooth paste using a pestle and mortar, space grinder or food processor.
  6. Add the oil to the pan and cook the onions until soft
  7. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes then add the curry leaves and stir for a minute.
  8. Add the tomatoes, the spice paste, cinnamon sticks, star anise and chillies to the pan and cook until you get a smooth paste and the oil starts to separate

Remove half the mixture and store in an air tight container for later use or freeze

To make the curry

  1. Add the chicken to the paste mix and cook for ten minutes with a lid on the pan.
  2. Add the chicken stock and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked though.
  3. Remove the star anise, cinnamon sticks and dried chilli.
  4. Add the lemon juice and the green chilli if wanted.
  5. Scatter with fresh coriander.

Serve with rice. You could also serve with papadums or naan bread.

Chicken CurryDisclosure: I was sent some Tilda rice in order to help me recreate the perfect curry.


4 responses to “The Science Of Creating The Perfect Curry”

  1. Yum ! I love the way we all followed exactly the same recipe but each dish came out slightly differently 🙂

  2. Galina V says:

    I also usually just buy the jars of curry sauce/paste rather than make my own. Though it was lovely, it was also quite time-consuming. Well done us for testing the recipe!

  3. Honest Mum says:

    I suppose all recipes have a science to them to make them work, especially cakes! What a brilliant post and yummy looking curry, thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays

  4. Rachelle says:

    I love your recipe. Would love to try this out on the weekends.

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