In my household, we heap our curry and rice on our plates and the ensuing scene resembles dinnertime at the trough in the movie Babe. Apparently, this is the incorrect way to eat the dish, or rather, not the way to extract maximum curry enjoyment.
Dr Mark Hadley of the department of Physics at the University of Warwick has been commissioned by Tilda Pure Basmati to find out the perfect way to construct a curry. In the study, he focussed on the key components of meat/vegetable, sauce and rice.
What he found was that the ideal curry has the ratio of 1:1:1- meat/vegetable; sauce; rice. If done right, each forkful will have the right amount of texture.
You may be thinking, 'no shit Sherlock' thoughts about this time, but a lot of work has gone into the formula, basing it on the 'golden ratio' that dates back to ancient Greece. The circle of rice needs to be 61% wider than the spherical cap of curry sat on top.
Dr Hadley concluded: that with the recommended portion size of 100g of cooked rice per person (60g uncooked), the perfect meal requires 200g of curry to balance it visually, containing 100g meat/vegetable.
For real purists, you'll want to measure your plate. A plate size of 27cm for a standard meal requires a 23cm diameter bed of rice 5mm thick, supporting a low dome of curry 14cm diameter and 2.4cm high at the tallest point.
He commented: “We have assumed that, with a 27cm standard dinner plate, we want a 2cm clear band of clean plate around the outside of the rice for aesthetic purposes and to allow room on the plate for ‘breakage’ of the circle of rice when eating.
The fluffiness of the rice is key to the formula as, with the separate grains, there is as much air as rice when laid out on the plate, which affects the look of the rice and how it feels in the mouth. This changes the effective density of the rice and results in equal volumes of rice and curry having different weights.”
What are your favourite ways to enjoy a curry? Do you think you'd like to follow Dr Hadley's formula or are you happy shovelling it in?
Tell us in the comments below...
Masterchef winner Dhruv Baker has created the 'perfect chicken curry' based on the formula. Fancy a bash?
Dhruv’s Perfect Chicken Curry
Time: 20 minutes (If you have the paste ready)
75g desiccated coconut
2 x cinnamon stick
2 x star anise
3 whole dried red chillies
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp fennel seeds
100ml of water
3 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
3 x red onions, finely chopped
4 x cloves garlic finely chopped
2 x tsp grated fresh ginger
6 x tbsp fresh curry leaves
8 x tomatoes finely chopped
500g boneless chicken thighs (skin removed)
200ml water or chicken stock
1 x small bunch fresh coriander finely chopped
1 x green chilli finely chopped (optional if you like it hot!)
A squeeze of lemon
Tilda Pure Basmati
- Toast the coconut in a pan over a low heat, stirring until it turns golden brown.
- Remove the coconut on to a plate and into the same pan add the cinnamon sticks, dried chillies, peppercorns, star anise and fennel seeds. Roast in the pan for 3-4 minutes then add the ground coriander and chilli powder and stir for a minute. Add 100ml of water to form a paste and cook for two minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks, star anise and whole chillies and keep for later. Add the toasted coconut, cinnamon powder, turmeric and salt to the pan. Add everything to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste.
- Heat the oil in the same pan and slowly cook the onions until they are soft – this will take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes then turn up the heat and add the curry leaves and stir for a minute.
- Add the tomatoes and the spice paste, return the cinnamon stick, star anise and chillie to the pan and cook for five minutes, stirring until you end up with a smooth paste and the oil starts to separate out.
- Remove half the mixture and freeze or place in an airtight container, which will keep in the fridge for a week or so.
- To cook the rice, add 2 measures of cold water to one measure of rice. Bring to the boil, reduce to a low heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, stand covered for five minutes.
- Lightly fork the grains before serving. For best results, soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes, then rinse in a sieve with cold water.
- Add the chicken and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add 200ml chicken stock remove the lid and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the star anise, cinnamon and chilli, stir through the lemon juice and green chilli (if using) and scatter with the fresh coriander.