Nine Steps for Successful Recipes

I’ve learnt a lot about cooking curries over the last three years by testing one of the Curry Focus recipes each week.

In the beginning, I was pretty clumsy in my approach and this was not helped by some of the recipes. I’ve come to appreciate that there are 9 golden rules that make recipes easy to follow.

So here is my list of rules, in no particular order.

1 – The ingredients should be listed in the same sequence as they are used in the recipe. Having the list of ingredients in the same sequence that they are used in the recipe method definitely makes the recipe easier to follow.

2 – Make sure that the cooking steps are in the correct sequence. I’ve seen recipes that get you cooking and then suddenly say something like “Add 2 cups of cooked rice”. If you need to precook an ingredient then do this near the beginning of the recipe method and say to keep the item for later (something like “gently simmer the rice in a cup of water in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes and set aside”).

3 – The cooking times for each step should be clearly stated. I often see recipes that have phrases such as “fry the onions until they are cooked” or “simmer the beef until it is tender”. What exactly does that mean? For a beginner, or inexpert cook, this is often meaningless. With my limited experience, I know the answers to these instructions but I didn’t know this information 3 or 4 years ago. You need to spell out how long each step takes. Of course, the length of time that it takes to fry or cook something does depend on the heat that is being applied so sometimes you need to say “about 8 minutes” or “60 – 90 seconds”.

4 – The measurements should be consistent. You shouldn’t start off by saying something like “750 g of chicken” and then follow this up with “4 oz of coconut”.

5 – Use common ingredients. If you are publishing a recipe on the internet then it is going to be seen all over the world – if you want people to try your recipe then they need to be able to get hold of the ingredients. If your recipe calls for an ingredient that you know may be difficult to find then suggest an alternative.

6 – Use common ingredient sizes. This is especially important if you are using tinned (canned) ingredients. For example, coconut milk is generally sold in tins (cans) of around 400 ml so it’s going to be frustrating/wasteful if you say a recipe needs 500 ml of coconut milk – the person is more likely to just use one tin (can) of coconut milk than buy 2 tins (cans) of coconut and waste most of a tin (can).

7 – Keep it simple. Recipes with lots of ingredients and lots of complicated cooking steps put people off. Short direct sentences are better than rambling descriptions.

8 – Make sure that the recipe works. Try the recipe yourself and make sure that you follow the instructions, as written. You’d be surprised how many recipes use an ingredient that isn’t listed or don’t use an ingredient that is listed.

9 – Last, but not least, make sure that the recipe produces yummy food. This is obviously very subjective and is down to personal taste but the food must be edible.

If you have any good curry recipes, then why not share them with everyone by giving us the details on the Curry Focus “Add Recipe” page? We’ll format it for you and publish it for the world to enjoy.

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