You can use the main ingredient/s of your choice in this phaal sauce.
How hot you make your phall curries is really down to you. You could for example use ghost chillies which are the spiciest you can get.
I don’t do that though. I do like a good spicy phaal from time to time but I also like to taste all the ingredients that are in it.
If you make it too spicy, the spice overtakes the curry. Still, this phaal will be too hot for most people which is why I have only given a one to two person serving.
I’m not allowed to cook this in the house anymore because it’s nearly impossible to breath without coughing.
This is one I have to cook outdoors. Mr Naga pickle is available from most Indian grocers and online. It’s spicy but also has a great flavour so I recommend picking some up.
As with most curries, this phaal sauce can be made one or two days ahead of time. In fact as the flavours develop it will get even better.
The sauce also freezes well. You can make it, freeze it and then heat it up and add your main ingredient of choice to heat through in the sauce before serving.
The base sauce and other pre-cooked ingredients.
Curry house style curries are made with a base sauce and usually with pre-cooked main ingredients.
The reason for this is both speed and flavour. The base sauce (or gravy) speeds up the cooking process and also gives you that smooth texture that is so popular with British Indian restaurant (BIR) style curries.
Other main ingredients can be added too. Paneer can be added raw but it is even better done this way. Raw prawns could also be added to cook in the sauce though I like to add tandoori prawns for flavour reasons.
If you like this phaal sauce recipe, you might like to try some of these curry house favourites too…
- 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or mustard oil
- 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 4 habanero chillies, finely chopped
- 3 green bird's eye chillies - finely chopped
- 1 tbsp mixed powder
- 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 70ml (¼ cup) tomato purée
- 300ml (1¼ cup) base sauce
- 1 tbsp Mr Naga chilli pickle (optional but delicious)
- 1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- Julienned ginger (to garnish)
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When visibly hot, add the chopped onions and fry for five minutes or until soft and translucent.
- Stir in habanero chillies and bird's eye chillies followed by the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds.
- Add the mixed powder and Kashmiri chilli powder followed by the tomato puree and stir to combine, then add about 125ml (½ cup) of the base sauce.
- Allow this to come to a simmer. This is a good time to add your main ingredient of choice or just continue cooking and add the main ingredient later when you heat it up to serve.
- Add the remaining base sauce and bring to a simmer again, only stirring if the sauce is sticking to the pan. As you cook, the sauce will caramelise to the side of the pan. Stir this in as it adds flavour.
- Stir in the Mr Naga pickle and cook the curry until you are happy with the consistency.
- Season with salt to taste. Sprinkle the kasoori methi over the top by rubbing it between your fingers.
- To serve, garnish with the garam masala and coriander and enjoy with rice and a couple of ice cold beers.