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I made a curry last night for this evenings meal.

The main components of it are aubergines, yoghurt, ginger, tumeric, cumin and chilli.

After cooking it I tasted it and it is sadly quite tasteless. I think the mistake I made is having too much aubergine for the quantity of spices I put with it.

I won't have much time from when I get home tonight to fix the curry before we eat it.

What's the best thing to do?

Is it safe to just dump a load of raw gingerand spices in or is there a better way?


It is (supposed to be) an indian curry. It is based on a recipe for a lamb curry. I replaced the lamb with aubergines (without paying too much attention to quantities...)

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I can't really tell from the ingredients if this is supposed to be an Indian or a Thai curry... which probably speaks to why it doesn't taste like much... care to clarify? – Aaronut Dec 20 '11 at 14:39
@Aaronut - Indian. Have edited my post. – Mongus Pong Dec 20 '11 at 14:51
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Indian curry traditionally has - in addition to the ginger, turmeric, cumin and chili (I assume you mean chili powder) that you used - a generous amount of garam masala, coriander powder, and garlic.

Sometimes you'll see "curry powder" used in recipes instead of garam masala; they are similar but not exactly the same.

Either one of these would be fine, and arguably the most important missing ingredient here. I'm not even sure you could legitimately call it a curry without one of the above.

Depending on your spice tolerance, you might need to add more chili powder as well.

Note that most spices in a curry will need to be heated before they'll really release their aromas (and therefore flavour), so you can't just add them cold, and I definitely don't think you'd want the taste of raw garlic/ginger in your curry, even if it is presently tasteless. Give it a good simmer after adding some garlic (powder is fine) and garam masala or curry powder and you might be able to salvage it.

Or you could try heating the new spices dry, for a very short time, to give them a bit of a head start aroma-wise; just be very careful not to burn them.

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Sounds like a plan. Just a couple of questions. By dry do you mean without oil? Also are you including garlic in the spices to dry heat? Would I do this over low or high heat? – Mongus Pong Dec 20 '11 at 15:16
Good answer, but I have found spices to work better in oil than dry. I'd heat the new spices in a tablespoon or two of oil, then add only a bit of liquid (the choice of liquid can have important effect on the taste too) and simmer. That should produce an aromatic sauce you can mix in the curry. Also, consider adding something umami to the spice mix, this is probably the biggest difference from lamb. – rumtscho Dec 20 '11 at 15:17
@MongusPong: You don't want to heat fresh garlic dry; garlic powder is OK. As for the heat, it's not really that important - medium or high is fine - what's important is that you take it off the heat as soon as it starts to get fragrant. You can use some oil too as rumtscho says, if you're not comfortable heating up spices by themselves. – Aaronut Dec 20 '11 at 19:13
Many thanks. That saved the curry nicely, turned out the be the nicest one I've ever made. I then went on and made another, even nicer one afterwards! – Mongus Pong Dec 23 '11 at 20:46

if it was me, I'd blend garlic and ginger (and fresh chillies if you want) to a paste into a small blender/coffee grinder (not one you actually use for coffee though), I'd warm some cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan, then grind them down in a pestle and mortar.

Then I'd heat a table spoon of oil, add the spices back to it, fry for a few seconds, then add the garlic/ginger/chilli paste, cook that for a few mins on a highish heat and add to the curry. Then I'd season with lemon and salt/pepper.

you could also chop a handful of fresh coriander leaf and/or fresh mint and stir that through, which will give you a nice freshness and should compliment the lamb nicely.

If you have it, some tamarind loosened with a bit of hot water is a nice alternative to lemon, with a more savoury sourness, and can quickly add a bit of punch to a curry.

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Mouth watering. Once nice touch is to stir in some lime pickle. It adds a sour, fruity tang. – slim Dec 20 '11 at 17:16

First suggestion is to check your seasonings. Adding various amounts of sweetener, salt, or acid (vinegar, lemon/lime juice, etc.) is the easiest way to bring out the flavors already there. Remember that the key when seasoning is to bring out the flavors already there - your dish shouldn't taste like salt, sugar, or acid. You can certainly try and add more spices, but that won't make a difference if your seasoning is off.

Second suggestion would be to remove some of the aubergine. By itself it doesn't have much flavor, so removing some of it to bring the rest of the ingredients in balance might help.

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I've made curries that were too bland and they just needed more salt for the curry flavor to come out. – markets Dec 24 '11 at 0:12

In Indian curries, you almost always fry onions, and add the spices to the frying onions (and continue frying for not too long.) It sounds like you're making "bangan bharta" like this recipe. Notice this step:

Heat oil in a pan, add garlic ,green chilli and chopped onions and fry over medium flame until light golden brown. Add red chilli powder, garam masala powder and turmeric powder.

That's what you should do, and add the onions to the final product. If you already have onions in your dish, just do this with less onion.

Also, don't forget the salt. Salt can really affect how much you can taste the other spices.

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