Phaal, hot or not?
The Phaal is known (and by some feared!) for being one of the hottest curries around. It is a British Asian invention designed for those chasing that chilli buzz. It has even got to the point that the Brick Lane Curry House in New York have a ‘Phaal Challenge’. The challenge is simple: eat their super-hot dish which they describe as ‘An excruciatingly HOT curry, more pain and sweat than flavour’.
Any curry can be made stupidly hot if you put enough chilli in it! But we always value flavour over heat. If we ignore the pile of chillies for a minute, the base of our Phaal is a rich tomato curry with the addition of creamed coconut, and smoky flavours from spices like black cumin and black cardamom. This makes it a delicious, warming curry, perfect for an autumn evening (no matter how hot you like it). We have already converted many people to the joys of a milder Vindaloo, now it’s the turn of the Phaal.
For those that do want this one hot (and that's fine too!) the strong flavours from the sauce are perfect for carrying chilli heat. When making this curry hot, we use two different types of fresh chilli (along with the Kashmiri chillies in the paste and a sprinkling of chilli powder!). This not only guarantees heat but provides a wonderful combination of flavours - the smokiness of the kashmiri chillies and the bitterness of the green chillies. And we have some customers who like it even hotter! For this, they enjoy the addition of a chopped naga chilli!
Whatever your preference of curry, be it mild or mouth-numbingly hot, we really hope you give the Phaal a go this month and discover a tasty new curry.
Try the Phaal this season with slow-cooked lamb or game. It will also work well with roasted vegetables like squashes and mushrooms. Garnish it with fresh coriander when serving.
Here is a full menu suggestion to accompany your (mild, medium or hot!) Phaal.
- A slow-cooked lamb Phaal - Quick to prepare, cooked low and slow for deep in flavour.
- Butternut Squash Sambhar - Try leaving the skin on the squash and roasting in chunks before adding it to the lentils.
- Beetroot Raita - Stunning colour and earthy taste.
- Fried Okra - a simple and traditional side dish.
- Pilau Rice or warm Naan Breads.
One of our most common comments when chatting about the Phaal is:
‘My husband/wife/son/daughter/brother/friend/dog likes their curry hot, but I like mine mild’.
Everybody has different tastes, but you don’t want to have to cook two of every dish. We find the best way to please everyone is to make your dishes mild or medium heat strength. You can then serve it with some yoghurt for those who want to temper the heat, and a hot pickle for those that like it fiery. Some of our favourite hot condiments are Mr Vikki's King Naga, East India Chilli Pickle or the very traditional Priya Chilli Pickle.