Fans of curried mince populate the world. From India to South Africa, from England to Thailand, the recipes for this popular dish are almost limitless. The preparation can involve little more than an onion, a handful of herbs and spices, and minced meat, or it can be accomplished with a wealth of vegetables, starch such as potatoes or rice, and a variety of cheese. The best minces, however, boast ginger, garlic, and onions and build from there.
Most Indian minces also include coriander and cumin seeds that have been roasted until they pop. Truly ravishing Indian curried mince is achieved by roasting the curry ingredients, which can also include cardamom pods, tumeric, and fenugreek, and grinding them immediately prior to use. It’s possible to prepare a curry mixture and store it on the shelf or in the fridge for a period of time, but the flavor will suffer.
Some like it hot, and Caribbean curried mince scratches that itch by adding an assortment of chili peppers. Good cooks know that the longer the peppers cook, the less heat they throw when eaten. Roasting the peppers and grinding them into powder is the quickest way to get the flavor and heat into the mince; however, using whole hot peppers mean those who like the burn can pull them from the pot with their mince, while those who prefer just an echo of heat can pass the peppers by.
Another tip to creating a memorable mince is to give it enough fat. Some cooks assume that curry’s strong flavors mean it’s OK to strip buttery calories, and diners won’t notice. It’s possible to create a defatted mince, but in some circles, that’s considered illegal. Ghee, butter, or oil not only add to the mouth feel of the dish, but they are essential to convincing the various spices to date and marry.
Traditional minces are made from finely chopped venison, beef, or mutton cooked with nutmeg and cloves. Chicken or duck, however, can be substituted, and seafood lovers swear by shrimp, scallop, and lobster mince. Vegetarians can replace the animal meat with tempeh or seiten that has been crumbled into tiny bits.
One way to achieve the sweet that balances the sour in the best curried minces is by adding fruity chutney or even a jar of prepared mixed fruit jam. Tomatoes give the curry something to sing about, and a splash of vinegar, ironically enough, brings out the tomatoes’ sweet undertones. Thai curried mince generally is prepared with coconut milk, while British mince wants steak sauce made with raisins or tamarind.