Curry Diary 1/21/2014: Milestone Curry #5

Been cooking my last curry variant for awhile, and it’s good enough to consider another Milestone.  So here’s the summary of my experiments – I wanted to remake it a few times, and after remaking it so often without tweaking it it was like “yeah, that’s pretty good!”

So here’s the full recipe!

  • 4 tablespoons butter or spread – I use spread for low sodium/low fat
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder. (S&B Curry is ideal)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste.
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 2/3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup red wine (shiraz and zinfandel are good, or a general red)
  • 2 1/4 tsp cocoa powder (about 3/4 a Tablespoon)
  1. Melt the butter over low heat in a pot of your choice.
  2. When the butter is melted, add the flour, curry powder, tomato sauce, soy sauce, maple syrup, cocoa powder, red pepper and black pepper. Mix thoroughly; I mash, fold, and mix until the color is consistent.  This is the roux.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low.
  4. Now, you want to brown the roux, and there’s a bit of an art to it. What I do is let it cook like a pancake, about 20-45 second until one side browns, then mix it up, fold it into a “pancake” and let it cool again. You may have to play with the heat, but the goal is to basically brown it/fry it slowly. This is needed to develop the flavors.
  5. Eventually it will get crumbly and crack – and you’ll see it visibly brown when it’s let to sit. At that point, it’s time to add the vegetable broth.
  6. Add the vegetable broth and wine to the roux. Turn the heat up so the mixture boils mildly. Do this incrementally so you don’t overdo it or underdog it.
  7. While waiting for it to boil, and when it boils, with a whisk, mix the broth and roux. It also helps to use a spatula to crush chunks of roux against the side of the pan. This can take a bit of effort. In general while mixing, I moderate the heat to get the mild boil.
  8.  Stir regularly so it doesn’t adhere/burn.
  9.  I wait until the sauce thickens. The key I use is when it’s not “boiling” but has the bubbly “bloops” of a thicker sauce. This can take awhile – I find it needs a minimum of 15 minutes, though between heat, time, size of pan, etc. it can vary. Taking time is good as it also boils away the alcohol – and if you scale it up it’s longer.
  10. Serve or put in freezer containers.  If it cools it gets a skin on it, so you’ll want to give it a good stir or two.  I also use glass containers.

So the major findings that I mentioned last time hold true – don’t overdo the wine, but most importantly, don’t use a broth substitute.

In the end, I just had to use the real thing because you can’t simulate it with herbs very well, it just lacks the “character” of real vegetable broth.  When I used it, the richness was, well, better.

So what I did for a bit was use a store-bought low-sodium broth, but when the local store stopped carrying it, I realized that I should have been making my own all along.  Which I did – grabbed some online advice, threw veggies and herbs in a pot, and boiled it for about an hour.  It was easy actually, and the result was pretty nice – in fact, I now make some regularly to use in other recipes.

Just two warnings.  First as you can do this with no salt (as I do) and then you might need a bit more salt in recipes that do use vegetable broth as they might count on the saltiness of the broth.  Secondly, there’s a lot of ways to do it so you may want to experiment to find what works for you – as of this time I’m still experimenting.

Now I haven’t experimented with the other spices for the last few months because this has been pretty decent.  Is this the end of my adventure?  Probably not, as I feel I can take it farther, so let’s see what comes next . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at