Nearly all the recipes in Quick Meals from The Curry House can be made from scratch in under an hour. Obviously, if you are making a full meal with vegetable accompaniments and bread you will need longer to get everything ready but it's perfectly easy to make a main dish with rice in under an hour.
It would be difficult to find an Indian or Bangladeshi restaurant these days that didn't offer a selection of chef's special dishes and they make an excellent alternative to the traditional restaurant favourites. Some of my House Specials are curries like the delicious Butter Chicken or the piquant Achar. Others, like Garlic Chicken and King Prawn Sizzler, are stir-fries with vegetables and a coating sauce. There are some unusual dishes too. Chicken Shashlik Bhuna is the speciality of a favourite restaurant of mine and, as the name suggests, is a fusion of two well-known dishes. Lamb Kofta is a traditional dish of spicy meatballs in a creamy sauce which doesn't appear on the restaurant menu anywhere near as often as it should.
All the Curry House Favourites appeared in my previous book but the method was much more complicated in order to duplicate the restaurant experience. A curry base and spice mixes had to be made in advance and the meat and rice had to be pre-cooked. The recipes all took far longer than an hour to make. The recipes in my new book have been rewritten so the method is much simpler and the curries can be made in under an hour. Most importantly though, I have completely revised the recipes so they reflect how I make them these days for myself and my family.
Even the recipes that require more that an hour from start to finish do not take up anywhere near that much of your time. The tandoori-style dishes need time for the meat to marinate and the breads need time for the dough to rise or rest. But in all those recipes the actual hands-on time from you, the cook, is much shorter.
The book is written for people who want to make a restaurant-style meal in a reasonable amount of time. For that reason, I've left out recipes for starters and desserts because the whole meal would take much longer to prepare. If you want a starter, naan bread and dessert but still want to keep your input to under an hour then the simple solution is to buy everything else from the supermarket. Bought samosas can be re-heated in the oven, naan bread can be warmed under the grill and the kulfi for dessert comes straight out of your freezer.
Despite there being no recipes for starters, I have included a recipe for Onion Bhajis. They are so popular I just couldn't leave them out. Besides, many people (including me) like them as part of the main meal rather than as a starter. Instead of deep frying the bhajis like they do in restaurants my recipe bakes them in the oven so they are much easier to cook and do not contain anywhere near as much oil.
So, do the recipes come out just like the dishes you get in Indian restaurants? No. The curries fall somewhere between restaurant curries and British supermarket ready-meals, although they are definitely in the style of Indian restaurants rather than, say, home-style dishes. My recipes for vegetable bhajis are different from restaurant ones too. Many of the vegetable bhajis you find in restaurants are really vegetable curries with lots of oily sauce. Proper bhajis only have a coating sauce, which really brings out the taste of the vegetables, and that's what you'll find in my recipes.
American readers should note that the recipes are written using metric measurements and not American cups, ounces and spoons. There is a special chapter in the book entitled Notes For American Readers which includes conversion tables for weights and measures and a useful glossary of British to American cooking terms.
You can find a complete list of contents for Quick Meals from The Curry House here.