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I have been buying various spice mixes to make Pakistani/North Indian food myself. My issue is that in dishes with yoghurt and/or tomatoes, the end result always winds up being too sour. It happens with my karahis and also, most annoyingly, with channa masala.

I have tried various kinds of yoghurts, including plain low-fat yoghurt but also a Turkish one I found which had 10% fat. The result didn't change much. So, I don't think the type of yoghurt I am using is the problem.

Other than the acidity these dishes turn out alright. Which steps can I take to reduce the acidity of my dishes?


Update

I am restricting this question to chana masalas since that's what I have played around with the most. However, I am open for more general answers as well.

I usually put about half the amount of onion as tomatoes. Other than that, I usually follow the recipe on the box. The one I am currently using is this one.

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    You may need to post your recipes. I've never known karahi or channa masala to use yoghurt [which I always thought was itself acidic] This reinforces what I've always considered a 'real' karahi - fatimacooks.net/lamb-mutton-karahi-recipe
    – unlisted
    Apr 24 at 17:54
  • Are you using fresh tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, or tomato puree? Apr 25 at 9:49
  • @MarkWildon Hi, I am using fresh tomatoes.
    – Avatrin
    Apr 25 at 10:27
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    A bhogar is 'spices fried in oil' at the start of the process, then other ingredients, onions etc fried, then water added to cook. The alternative method is bhuna, which is spices boiled with onions & oil, reduced until dry, then allowed to fry before continuing with the rest of the recipe. The pour-over spiced oil on your box recipe is a tarka or tadka. They all produce different flavour profiles. Bhuna is the 'softest' but requires a lot of patience to boil down, tarka the 'freshest/most aggressive' flavour.
    – unlisted
    Apr 25 at 18:23
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    Maybe your spice-mix has too much amchoor in it for your taste. Check the ingredients. If you cook this kind of food often enough, grinding and combining your own spices will taste much better. You will be able to adjust to your own taste, and add the spices at the right time in the cooking process. Apr 28 at 9:00
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The questioner reports using fresh tomatoes. At least in my country, fresh tomatoes are always a disappointment: the common large varieties are not very sweet and because they are refrigerated, they have very little flavour. This is one possible reason why the curry comes out too acidic.

To bring out the sweet notes in tomatoes I suggest roasting them first. But it is easier to use high quality tinned tomatoes (for example Italian San Marzano tomatoes). Tomato puree will also significantly increase the sweetness.

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  • Thank you! I think you may be onto something; Thinking about it, my mom always uses tomato puree, so I'll experiment with tinned tomatoes and tomato puree instead of fresh ones.
    – Avatrin
    Apr 25 at 10:42
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Perhaps you could try using a smaller kind of tomato, like cherry tomatoes. These are usually much sweeter in my experience and in general have a lot more to offer in terms of taste, compared to large tomatoes.

A mixture of both would also work if you don't have enough small tomatos at hand, since the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes will counteract the acidity of the larger ones.

If smaller tomatoes aren't an option, I would also go for high quality canned ones, as other people have suggested.

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You can play with the recipe by avoiding tomatoes and yogurt altogether. Many households here in India make dishes that way. If you want, you can thicken the gravy with a tablespoon of any kind of flour.

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You can simply add a pinch of sugar in your sauce to balance the acidity. I always do that when I cook something with tomato sauce, it works like a charm!

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