How to make curry sauce

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Indian curry sauce
Homemade curry is a nutritious comfort food
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How to make a curry sauce that sings of exotic spices and Asian flavors

Curry sauce is a huge component of many Asian cuisines including Thai, Indian and Japanese food. You may also know it from dipping English chips in it. If you ever feel a cold coming on, a bowl of it soothes the system and helps knock out the sniffles.

Neighborhoods in major cities are named after it, and number of restaurants along Londonís Brick Lane simple refer to themselves as curry houses. Itís the dish people will travel out of their way to get because itís one many of us donít know how to make at home.

Learning how to make curry sauce is not hard, but you will probably need to go spice shopping first. While you can find many of the seasonings at the grocery store, itís way more affordable to go to a a bulk food shop or an Asian grocery store and buy each spice individually. 

Alternatively, you can buy a powder. Many groceries carry at least one. These all taste a little different depending on the proportion of each spice. Try not to buy any large amounts until you find a mix you know you like.

Powder is typically a blend of turmeric, ground cloves, chilies and coriander seeds, and some have additional spices like ginger. The most basic method of making a sauce is with the pre-blended bright yellow spice blend.

While powder works sufficiently if youíre making an Indian dish for the first time, if youíre making Thai food, paste is generally used instead and the spice blend has lemon grass and a few other ingredients.

How to make curry sauce:

For a simple dipping sauce for chips, add a few teaspoons of powder to a sauce pan. Start with 1 part powder and 2 parts water on medium heat and stir. Heat until it boils, the reduce heat to low for about 5 minutes. Taste and add more hot water to thin it out if needed.

Say you want to try a curried sauce for boneless chicken breast to serve with rice. This is going to make your house smell really good: sautť chopped onions with fresh ginger paste, fresh garlic, olive oil, a few cloves, salt and pepper. Add a shake of turmeric and ground coriander seeds. Heat until the onions turn translucent. Add water, bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer.

Variations of a basic chicken or tofu dishes include adding chopped tomatoes for color and a sour element. You can marinade the protein in plain yogurt before cooking it in the sauce or spoon in yogurt during the simmer. Top the dish with fresh cilantro. South Indian curries often use coconut milk as a base instead of water. Squeeze lime juice on top and youíll be amazed how light and fresh your dish will taste.

Chilies bring the spicy element, but chili powder will do if you donít have any. If your chilies are super hot, keep the pieces you add in large slices so theyíll be easy to pick out.

Thai restaurants generally offer a red, green and yellow sauce. You can find red, green and yellow curry pastes in grocery and gourmet food stores, or you can make your own paste.

With Thai, the sauce forms as you cook the protein and vegetables down. Use a large skillet and heat the protein, potatoes and other large pieces in oil for a few minutes to brown. Stir in the paste with onions, peppers and the other veggies and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in coconut milk to dissolve the paste and bring it all to a boil. Mix in fresh cilantro and simmer for a few minutes.

Sauce can also be added to a rice stir fry for curry rice while the rice is still cooking so it absorbs the flavors. Top with crushed peanuts, bean sprouts and lime juice.

Thereís no single way for how to make curry sauce. If youíre not happy with the first experiment, try a completely different method. Like any new recipe, making it your own is a process of trial and error, but once you get it right youíll have a whole new style of healthy cooking in your repertoire.


Epicurious: Thai Paste

Jamie Oliver: Indian Paste

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