Whether you’re walking down the spice aisle in your local supermarket or scanning the menu at your favorite restaurant, you’ve probably come across curry. But what is curry? Some would say it’s a spice blend, while others would argue it’s a delicious Indian or Thai dish. But no matter what you believe curry means, there’s denying it’s a delicious and unique flavor profile we’ve come to crave.
We’re here to answer all your questions about curry, as well as share some of our most beloved curry recipes you can make at home.
Types of Curry
First things first, one thing every culinary expert agrees upon is that curry is never referring to one singular entity. According to chef Suhki Sing, in its simplest form, curry is an Indian gravy or sauce used in tandem with meat, tofu, or vegetables. However, there are many different ways to make curry depending on the spices used, meaning there are a couple of regional variations to the dish.
You may also see curry packaged in your supermarket. Curry powder and curry paste are relatively modern concoctions that Suhki explains are not meant to provide all the flavor you would find in the fragrant and mouth-watering curry dishes from Southeast Asia.
Now, let’s get into more of the specifics. While there is a wide range of curry variations around the world, the dish is most commonly divided into two categories: Indian curry and Thai curry.
Let’s learn more about the two different types below!
Indian curry might not actually be Indian! While the origins of curry in the country are unknown, Chowhound explained that it’s widely accepted to be of recipes. Indian curry is typically a mix of toasted spices ground into a powder. While the spices vary, the mix often includes:
Unfortunately, the curry blends you see in your local grocery store are likely old and lacking flavor. The best Indian curry mixes use whole spices that have been toasted to perfection and ground. This mix is then used in a water- or broth-based dish thickened with yogurt or another dairy product. There are many types of Indian curry, like tikka masala, saag, dhansak, korma, vindaloo, and more.
Then there’s Thai curry. Curries are an integral part of Thai cuisine and in this case, refer to both the dish and the curry paste used to make it. The Spruce Eats explained there are three main types of Thai curries: red, yellow, and green.
These curries are named after their color, which is caused by the types of chiles and other ingredients used to make them. Most Thai curry is made with base ingredients like:
- Kaffir lime leaves
- Other herbs and spices
Then things begin to differ. Red curry is made with red chilies that are super hot. Green curry, made with green chiles, and yellow curry (you guessed it…made with yellow chiles) have more mild flavors and are slightly different. Normally, green is the mildest, with yellow being middle ground, and red being the spiciest. Coconut milk is often used to add extra creaminess and cool down these flavors in a dish.
Some types of Thai curry you may be familiar with are gaeng kari, gaeng khae, gaeng khiao won, and gaeng phet.
Our Favorite Curry Recipes
If you’re now craving a piping hot bowl of mouthwatering curry, you’re in luck. Try one of these curry recipes for dinner when you want to add some color to your weekly meals!
Thai Green Curry Chicken
Chunks of tender chicken take on some spice in this recipe that will make your kitchen smell great. Homemade green curry sauce comes together quickly and is worth the added prep since the fresh spices truly make the dish. The addition of veggies helps to bulk up this recipe even more. This curry recipe is best if you don’t like a lot of spice (just keep adding coconut milk until it’s to your liking).
A classic Indian chicken curry uses fresh spices and aromatics like ginger, coriander, turmeric, and cumin to pack a flavor punch. The chicken soaks in all this flavor along with crushed tomatoes and heavy cream. This curry recipe is best served over basmati rice and with a side of fresh garlic naan (bonus points if it’s gluten-free!).
Penang Red Curry
recipe for Thai red curry is packed with warm spices and red chiles that give the dish its distinctive color and flavor. Though there are many ingredients, this curry recipe comes together quickly and delivers on the flavor front.
If you don’t want chicken, try this recipe with shrimp or fish!
Indian dishes, in general, are known for being vegetarian-friendly, and this curry recipe is no different. This korma is loaded with potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, peas, and green beans simmered in a flavorful coconut sauce. Make sure to have gluten-free bread on hand to sop up all the delicious sauce when you’re done.