Blog - The Difference between Thai and Indian Curry

What Is The Difference Between Thai Curry & Indian Curry

Some of these things are quite like the others; some of these things are curry. Curry is a broad term used to describe not only all Indian Cuisine as an all-blanketing term but a lot of Thai Cuisine as well. Technically this broad term is sort of right, in that curry is an exotic, sometimes spicy, saucy dish that contains vegetables, sometimes meat, and is served with rice or noodles. However, not all curries are equal. To be a true foodie, you need to know what IS the difference between Thai and Indian curry. This information could be essential for your next meal.


A Tale of Two Curries

I will admit that I used to be a picky eater. In fact, it wasn’t until 2012-ish that I had even tried a dish with a curry base – try this recipe for Butter Chicken – and even then it wasn’t until 2014 that I tried curry as a spicy, saucy dish with veggies, meat, and rice. I tell you, trying a slightly spicy red curry became an addiction. The heat, your face getting a little red, the burn on your tongue, slight sweating, it becomes an obsession. One thing I can almost guarantee about curry, whether it is Indian Curry or Thai Curry, is that they are never exactly the same twice.


All Thai-ed Up

Thai Curry is all about the aromatic curry paste. It is the beginning of something that is invariably magical. It is an intense, thick, moist, blend of flavorful ingredients. All curry paste is made with the same or fairly similar base ingredients - hot chilies, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, shallot, shrimp paste, and dry herbs like cumin and coriander seeds, and turmeric. There are a few rules to an otherwise free-form art of making curry paste:

  1. Any Thai Curry chef worth their weight in curry paste makes their own

  2. You must use a mortar and pestle to make curry paste. The reason being that crushing and grinding releases essential oils which are fragrant and flavorful

Otherwise, the sky is the limit when it comes to creating such delightful, tingling tastes. By varying the proportions of the ingredients, or the way those ingredients are prepared, you will find yourself with different variations of curry, too numerous to count.

Butter Chicken


Cook With All The Colors Of The Curry


Red curry is an every-curry paste – it’s perfect for just about anything. It is bold with a mild spiciness. It’s a good starting point if you aren’t afraid of spice. The deep, rich flavor and color comes from the red chilies that are used to make this paste.


Yellow curry paste is used for light meats like poultry and seafood, as well as vegetarian curries. It gets the bright yellow color from the yellow peppers and an abundance of turmeric, which makes it sweet and mellow.


Fresh and bright green chilies give green curry the bright color and spicy, in-your-face kick. Curries made with green curry paste are sharp, hot, and not as rich or deep as the other two.


Indian Curry is Naan-stop Deliciousness

Curry originated from the word Kari, which is a spice blend that was brought to the rest of the world by British traders from the British East India Trading Co. in the mid-17th century. The spices were pre-mixed and ground before being traded to the British for export, however, you will not find what we know as curry powder in India. Coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and powdered chili peppers are the basis for Indian curry powder. These elements are toasted and hand-blended by a chef in India, where a wide range of additional spices may be added depending on where in India the curry is being made, and what other ingredients are going in the dish. The British East India Trading Co. is also credited with introducing the chilies that originated in Mexico and South America to the Asiatic countries. It was then added to curry and became a phenomenon that spread across the continent.

Butternut Squash Soup


Keep Calm And Curry On

There is evidence of curries as far back as 4000 years found in the Indus Valley of India. Traces of cooked ginger and turmeric were found in a cooking pot and on rice grains in that area. The pairing of these specific spices with rice makes curry the longest continuously prepared dish in the history of ever.

As opposed to Thai Curry, Indian Curry has a flavor and spice that lingers on the palate, as opposed to the one-two punch found in green curry paste. Curry dishes are thickened mostly with dal, a purée of chickpeas or other lentils, and because it’s a powder, custom mixed by the chef, it can use oil, ghee, or yogurt to provide added moisture. Indian Curry doesn’t have colors to denote the type of curry being prepared, but the base spices are mixed with other spices and ingredients for specific types of dishes. The most popular being:


Yellow in color, filled with almond and coconut powder, is mild in flavor.


Is your standard hot curry, found in most restaurants, can range in heat depending on the chef and your preference, has a bit of a sour note to it.


Predominantly found in the UK, it is a mild sauce made with cream and coconut milk. This rich saucy stew is served with almonds and cashews, lamb, chicken or prawns.


Can’t Stand The Heat? Stay Out Of The Curry

Just because you ordered a color of Thai Curry, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be mild, medium, or spicy. The base ingredients, the curry chef, and what it’s served with, play huge roles in how hot your Thai Curry actually is. How many fresh, hot chilies are used, how much paste is used, how much coconut milk is used, and what veggies are added to the curry all play pivotal parts in the spiciness of the curry. Those that are water-based tend to be hotter because there is no fat from coconut milk or cream to help offset the heat. Serving spicy curry with rice, preferably hot curry over room temperature rice, will help when your curry is on the spicy side.

Now that we have curry-ed your flavor with this article, will you be trying these two very different cuisines? Just remember safety first when working with any spicy peppers. Keep up to date with recipes, how to’s and other grilling interests by watching our Facebook and Instagram pages.

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