It's almost impossible for me to find recipes to make thai and indian foods from scratch! Everywhere recommends curry paste/ powder. I usually use powders and spices in my indian curries but I don't get the deep authentic indian flavors like they do in restaurants, and all of the curry pastes at the stores (including whole foods) are loaded with crap. Any suggestions? I made a fairly good indian curry last night but used way too many cloves (the from-scratch recipe I found didn't specify the quantity of spices) and like 3/4 a stick of grass-fed butter. Any suggestions?
I own a very useful book called The Curry Secret, and it has the recipe for the secret base sauce that restaurants use, which they modify for each type of curry (for example, add some garam masala and really hot peppers). This has made me not want to eat out at such restaurants any more because the sheer amt of veg oil used. Use ghee or coconut oil instead at home. The problem with these ingredients and why restaurants use veg oil is that coco oil and ghee solidify in fridge, which means it doesn't keep as well.
How To Make The Curry Sauce For approximately eight main course dishes. Preparation and cooking time: 1 hr 30 minutes approx.
Stage One Peel and rinse the onions, ginger, and garlic. Slice the onions and roughly chop the ginger and garlic. Put the ginger and garlic into a blender with about ½ pint of the water and blend until smooth. Take a large saucepan and put into it the onions, the blended garlic and ginger, and the remainder of the water. Add the salt and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to very low and simmer, with the lid on, for 40-45 minutes. Leave to cool.
Stage Two Once cooled, pour half the boiled onion mixture into a blender and blend until perfectly smooth. Absolute smoothness is essential. To be certain, blend for at least two minutes. Pour the blended onion mixture into a clean pan or bowl and repeat with the other half of the boiled onion mixture. Wash and dry the saucepan. Reserve about four tablespoons of the sauce at this stage to use in cooking the chicken (page 52) and lamb (page 66).
Stage Three Open the can of tomatoes, put into the rinsed blender jug, and blend. Again, it is important that they are blended perfectly smooth, so blend for two minutes. Into the clean saucepan, pour the oil, tomato puree, turmeric, and paprika. Add the blended tomatoes and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes. Now add the onion mixture to the saucepan and bring to the boil again. Turn down the heat enough to keep the sauce at a simmer. You will notice at this stage that a froth rises to the surface of the sauce. This needs to be skimmed off. Keep simmering for 20-25 minutes. Stirring now and again to prevent the sauce sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Use immediately or cool and refrigerate for up to four days.
Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks are full of wonderful Indian recipes made from scratch -- she's sort of the Julia Child of India. You can find ingredients at Kalustyan's, which does mail order, if you live in an area where these things are hard to find. Personally, I eat Indian sans rice on cheat-y days, usually spicy chicken tikka masala, and I don't worry too much about what's in there. If you go to a good place, it's going to be spices, ghee, chicken thighs, cream, tomato, and chilis.
I'm a big, big fan of the Spice House . When I lived in Chicago i used to go to their retail store all the time, but they also do mail order. They have some awesome Indian spice blends as well as any individual spice you could possibly want. I also love their Dutch unsweetened cocoa. Nice extra high fat content. Their spices will not contain the "junk" you're looking to avoid.
I cook Indian curries all the time.. just looked at a couple of my Indian cookbooks, and all of them just list the individual spices that you mix together (e.g. cumin, turmeric, paprika, coriander, etc.).. so my advice would be to find recipes where they break down the curry spices rather than ones that require some sort of store-bought paste / mixture..
btw, i've also seen "organic curry powder" at whole foods that looked clean, if your recipes call for that..
i'm not convinced that many/most indian restaurants don't use boxed spiced blends/curry pastes themselves. that "deep authentic" flavor you're looking for might actually be msg or something! the obvious use of food coloring at some places backs up this hypothesis. the standard indian diet nowadays doesn't preclude the artificial/unnatural any more than other industrial societies.. SADLY. i know that's not what you're looking for, i'm just saying.
but it sounds like you're on the right track - be sure to update with your secrets when you find success!
as far as thai food at home, i use the little jars of Thai Kitchen brand curry paste, you can get it at whole foods, and there's no Added Crap! :) you know what's delicious? deviled eggs made with this stuff!