What knives does our award winning head chef Mangal wield in his kitchen, and for what Indian dishes? Here he reveals all, including a few tricks on how best to handle these tools.
A popular ingredient in Indian cuisine is prawn, where you can make anything from Prawn Tikka Masala to Prawn Vindaloo. If you’re working with fresh shrimp from the market, you’ll need a paring knife to devein it.The blade should be no longer that 4 inches. You’ll be able to handle this blade almost like a pen to make a shallow cut that exposes the vein, so you can pull it out with fingertips. Paring knives also handle both thick-skinned citrus fruits and the thin skin of apples and potatoes, which comes in handy for vegetable recipes, like Fruit Chaat.
A lot of Indian meat is slow-cooked and served on the bone, because it gives you 100% more flavour – just think of the tasty, tender meat of the traditional North Indian lamb curry, Nalli Gosht. No knife is required for this process. To westernise a curry, however, you could replace the meat on the bone with meat cutlets. This would require a chef’s knife – the most efficient tool in any man’s kitchen because it’s a real workhorse that chops and slices large cuts of meat with speed and efficiency.
Filleting a fish is an art because it takes great precision and skill. This is why this knife is a great tool for a man who is pure expert in the kitchen. With a blade sized between 6 and 11 inches, you run it close to the ribs to free the meat from the skeleton of the body. I use a filleting knife for my Goan Fish Curry – which is tastiest with either a filleted haddock or monkfish, and served with fresh coconut, cracked mustard and curry leaves.
This knife has a great blade that easily slices through joints and cartilage so you can free meat from the bone. If you also want to free your meat from the fatty bits – the boning knife is useful here too because the blade is so thin and flexible, which allows you to get around the different shapes. I use a boning knife for chicken, mostly, and lamb if it’s not cooked on the bone, but will also opt for this to remove skin from fish.
I use a serrated knife for tomatoes in particular because of its jagged edge – this is because with any other vegetable knife you run the risk of breaking the skin and squashing it because of the plain edge. I’ll then use chopped tomatoes in dishes like the Karahi, a dish from the North West region of Pakistan, which is prepared over hot flames.