Curry is India’s most popular contribution to the culinary world. There are so many variations, from chicken to goat. But there is one key ingredient that is always present in this dish, and that is curry powder or paste.
A lot of good cooks automatically assume a lot of things about curry paste and powder that are untrue. Some claim that one is better than the other and this is simply misleading to curry lovers everywhere.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and if you really want a great curry experience then it is best to know when to use which one.
What Is Curry Powder?
The earliest accounts of curry powder date back to a newspaper advertisement in 1784. This tells a fantastic tale of the spice being brought home from a dangerous voyage from the East Indies. The advertisement also claims that curry powder has some health benefits, like better digestion, improved circulation, a vigorous mind and strong libido.
Going back to more factual data, curry powder is a blend of spices that normally contains coriander, turmeric, and red peppers.
While curry powder is readily available in packs at the supermarket, keep in mind that there is no actual curry powder in India. This means that most curry dishes in India contain a mixture of spices that normally contains coriander, turmeric, and red peppers.
This means that if you are considering making a curry, then it is a good idea to make your own curry powder blend. That way you can adjust the spices according to your taste, which is pretty much how they do it in Indian kitchens.
However, for those who like a bit of convenience, there are dozens of curry powders that are known to be of good quality. One curry blend that I always recommend is the Frontier Coop Curry Powder, which has a fantastic, rich blend. You can check them out at their online store.
What Is Curry Paste?
Curry paste is a blend of spices mixed with wet ingredients. The wet ingredients added to the spice blend are typically oil mixed with some garlic and ginger. Curry paste is typically much stronger than curry powder, and so it is better for other cooking applications.
A popular curry paste variation is called Thai curry paste. This is normally classified into green, yellow, and red curry paste. All three have different ingredients and are used for different dishes.
Most Asian supermarkets will carry a packet of Thai curry paste as it is a very popular ingredient there. For those looking for a recommendation, you won't go wrong with the Mae Anong Brand. This maintains an authentic and distinctive curry flavor without being too overpowering. You can check it out at Amazon.
Which Is Better: Curry Powder Or Curry Paste?
This particular question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.
- The first question to ask yourself is how much experience have you had of eating curry?
If the answer is not that much, then I would suggest using curry powder first, as it is less potent than curry paste. This will allow you to acquaint yourself with curry’s distinctive and powerful flavors as not all people can handle a strong curry when their first try it.
On the other hand, seasoned curry eaters will probably enjoy the more robust flavors of curry paste, which is hotter and overwhelms the senses with flavor. I have some friends who swear by eating a fiery bowl of coconut curry soup and say that it is one of the best dishes that they have tasted.
- The second question is what type of food are you cooking?
If you are making soup, then it might be a good idea to use some curry paste. This can liven up a boring soup paste and turn it into something astounding with its more potent flavor. So, if you are planning to whip up something quick, then go ahead and use curry paste.
But for stews and dishes in the same category, nothing beats using curry powder. Slow cooker stews, which can take hours to make, will benefit from the curry powder’s milder flavors. Those milder flavors will eventually gradually seep into the stew or meat and produce really vibrant and amazing flavors.
Curry is one of those dishes that is definitely a must eat for real foodies. For amateur cooks and chefs, learning to use curry paste and curry powder can boost their culinary knowledge and ability to produce this kind of dish. The versatility of curry is an amazing treat for those who can properly use its main ingredient.