What's going on in the kitchen at an Indian restaurant?

I’ve been eating a lot of Indian food lately, and I’ve started wondering about how the kitchen is run back there.

I wonder because there are a number of dishes that seem like they would take a fairly long time to prepare that make it to the table not long after ordering it. For instance, stew-like dishes like vindaloo - this is obviously something that has been cooking for a long time. OK, seems obvious that they would have a pot of vindaloo on the heat ready for whenever someone orders it, but there are two flaws with that idea - first, the potatos are firm and don’t seem to have rounded edges like they tend to get when they have been stewing for a while. Secondly, you can order the vindaloo in a milder variant - but I guess they could just have two pots for each kind of vindaloo, a hot or mild - I don’t think they are just adding more seasonings to a milder batch, since the spiciness permeates the meat and potatoes.

Same thing with Bombay Potatos, which I ordered last night. The potatos were firm, had sharp edges, and one of them was even a bit undercooked - they definitely seemed like they were freshly boiled.

I have a hypothesis - since potatos are used in so many of the dishes, perhaps they have a few pots of potatos boiling at all times, with the time started staggered so there are always potatos that recently finished cooking for use in whatever. These unseasoned boiled potatos are used in a number of dishes, i.e. added to the meat and sauce for vindaloo.

Anybody who works in the restaurant biz want to help me understand how this works?

From my knowledge of Indian cooking, they prepare like this:

Onion sauce - base for almost all dishes
Meat - often in the onion sauce or roasted in a clay oven etc
“curry” sauces eg rogan josh, vindaloo, pasanda etc
Vegetables eg potatoes (bioled) carrots etc

When an order is made, they combine the ingredients cook together for a few minutes, sprinkle on a bit of garnish and serve.

Most of the sauces come ready prepared in the UK, Pataks at one stage claimed to supply 98% of all Indian Resturants.


They could have some of the vegetables, potatoes, etc. slightly precooked beforehand. This would cut down on preparation time when they receive the order since all they would have to do is throw the ingredients together, cook it a little bit and everything would be heated through, cooked thoroughly, and out the door to your table. :slight_smile:

I’m pretty sure this is how many restaurants prepare their dishes to cut down on the time it takes for you to get your food. Some dishes just cannot be prepared from scratch as it may take too long to cook. This doesn’t mean their soups or stews are on the stove all day to keep warm until someone orders it though. The reduction of the soup/stew may make it too strong or the texture of the things in the soup/stew may turn out to be less than desirable after a certain amount of cooking. They could have it in a pot in the fridge or something ready to be cooked/served within minutes… Again, all they have to do is throw the ingredients together and finish cooking it. That time should be enough to infuse the potatos, meat, etc. with the spicyness if it indeed is a spicy dish.

I used to work in a chinese restaurant a while back and from what I’ve seen, many of the dishes use similarly cooked meats, etc. so all they have to do is cook the meat a certain way before they open, store it in the fridge, and take it out when the need arises. I’m sure there are more tricks the cooks have up their sleeves that I don’t know about. :slight_smile: Hopefully, they’re not doing something really strange back there… ><