Thai Curry Vs Indian Curry: Which One Should You Choose?
While you might think of one type of dish when the word “curry” comes up, the truth is that there are a large variety of different curries.
Since curry is being made in a variety of places around the world, it has many different personalities and flavor profiles.
What, exactly, is a curry?
A curry is a dish predominantly associated with South Asian cuisine. It’s cooked with a sauce that’s been seasoned with spices. It has a unique flavor that’s floral because of how it contains both savory and sweet spices.
In this guide, we’re going to explore Thai curry vs Indian curry to see how they compare.
It might surprise you to discover that they are different in many ways!
Brief History Of Curry
It’s been said that the word “curry” comes from South India and means “to blacken with spices.” Curry has had a vibrant and interesting history, and has developed over time to become the dish that we love so much today.
Curry has its origins in 1498 when the Portuguese arrived in India and introduced chili to the country. This was a massive milestone in the development of curry because pepper and vinegar were also introduced, and later used to produce vindaloo curry in Goa.
There was another important milestone in history that contributed to the modern curries we eat today.
When Queen Elizabeth established the British East India Company to deal with the expansion of Dutch and Portuguese companies in the country, this had the unintended consequence of further developing curry. See, the British army enjoyed Indian food and their access to spices along with their adaptation of the local cuisine contributed to the creation of curry dishes.
What Is Thai Curry?
Thai curry is a dish that’s made with curry paste, but there’s a variety of different types of curries to enjoy in Thai cuisine.
These curries are usually cooked in coconut milk. The paste consists of chilies, garlic, lemongrass, onions, and various herbs that make it smell and taste delicious.
You can find three main Thai curry types and they vary depending on the chilies that they contain.
If you like your curry hot, you’ll love red curry! This type of Thai curry can easily contain up to 20 red chilies to give it its vibrant color and add lots of spice. Sometimes chefs making red curry will trade chilies for tomato sauce or chili powder.
Red curry paste is found in many dishes, some of which contain coconut milk that’s been added to the red paste to make a flavorful sauce.
In yellow curry, turmeric is the star of the show that makes it yellow. This type of curry contains yellow curry paste that is mild and sweet with a bit of a spicy flavor. Curry powder is combined with cumin, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, coriander seeds, and either red or yellow chili.
Yellow curry chicken is a common dish making use of yellow curry paste and sometimes the paste can be mixed with coconut milk to be used in stews.
Green curry is the most popular Thai curry and it gets its beautiful color from fresh herbs such as basil and cilantro that also make it smell amazing. The dish contains green chilies and other ingredients, such as ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and fish sauce.
There are two common recipes that make use of green curry paste – Thai green curry with chicken or beef and fish dumplings. Green curry is one of the most distinct curries in the country as it varies the most from curries you can find elsewhere in the world.
What are some other Thai curries?
Besides the above-mentioned colorful curries, you can also find other Thai curries. These include the unique Massaman curry that is a thick sauce with a sweet flavor. You’ll love that this dish has whole peanuts and spices in it, which isn’t found in many other Thai curries.
Another interesting Thai curry is Thai Panang red curry. This is sweet and rich, and can be enjoyed with coconut cream. The paste in the curry contains red chilies and because it’s so spicy it’s often served with beef.
What Is Indian Curry?
Indian curry contains a mix of roasted spices that have been ground into powder, which is known as a masala. The curry is broth- or water-based, but you can use sour cream or yogurt to thicken its consistency.
There are different types of Indian curry, such as:
- Korma, which is when vegetables or meat are braised with cream/yogurt, water/stock, and spices to make a thick sauce that’s mild in flavor so it’s not too hot.
- Vindaloo, which is when meat is marinated in a spicy blend with vinegar.
- Jalfrezi, which is curry with a meat, fish, veggie, or paneer main ingredient that’s been stir-fried before added to a thick spicy sauce.
- Tikka masala, which is found in all Indian restaurants, so it’s one of the most common curries. It involves the “tikka” element, which is chicken or other meat that’s cooked in a tandoor on a skewer, and the “masala” element which is the creamy sauce to go with it.
Thai Curry Vs Indian Curry: What Are Their Differences?
While both Thai and Indian curries are bursting with flavor and they both rely on tasty ingredients such as turmeric, garlic, and ginger, they do have some important differences.
Thai curry is centered on coconut milk, while Indian curry can contain yogurt, butter, or cream. There are many other notable differences between these two types of curries.
While both curries have a sauce or broth, they are based on different ingredients.
Thai curry will usually contain a paste with ingredients such as garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and fresh chilies. This gets added to a pan and sauteed with oil before being added to coconut milk, along with other ingredients, such as meat or fish sauce. Red chilies are also common in Thai curries.
Indian curry, by comparison, contains a sauce or gravy made from onions and tomatoes which are sautéed and then blended, before being seasoned with dry spices like red chili powder, cumin, coriander powder, and cinnamon.
The consistency of Thai curry vs Indian curry varies quite a bit. Thai curry usually has a thin consistency and it’s focused on delivering a bright flavor, which is thanks to its fresh herbs and citrusy elements, such as lime leaves and lemongrass.
By comparison, Indian curry has a thicker consistency that makes you think of a stew. It’s heavy and hearty, as a result of its various spices that include turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin.
Thai curries make use of paste as a base, while Indian curries use dry spices. Many Indian curries contain a spice called garam masala, which is a fragrant blend of approximately 10 spices.
In Thai curries, the cooking process begins with heating a paste, and you can find red, yellow, or green pastes as we outlined earlier.
Thai curry is spicier than Indian curry! While you might think Indian curries will be hotter and spicier because they use spices as the base for their dish, Thai curries can be spicier. If you want to try a Thai curry but you don’t want one that’s too hot, a yellow Thai curry is your best bet as it’s milder and has sweeter flavors.
You’ll find dairy products in Indian curries, but these aren’t found in Thai curries. It’s common for Indian curries to make use of butter or ghee so that spices can be added to them, and you’ll also find that they contain yogurt or cream to thicken up their sauce. Thai curries don’t contain dairy products. Instead, they use coconut oil or peanut oil.
Indian and Thai curries use different kinds of rice.
Indian curries are usually made with basmati rice, while jasmine rice is popular in Thai curries.
When it comes to extra foods to eat with your curry, these vary quite a bit depending on the type of curry you’re enjoying.
Thai curry can sometimes be enjoyed with noodles, whereas this is never the case with Indian curry – this type of curry is usually eaten with rice or bread, such as roti and naan bread.
The use of curry leaves varies between the two curries. Curry leaves are common in Indian curries, but not all of them.
Thai curry doesn’t usually contain curry leaves, and instead will contain lemongrass and lime leaves to keep their flavor light and sharp.
Cilantro leaves are common in both curries, but there’s an interesting difference in how Thai and Indian curries approach this herb. Thai curries are usually garnished with cilantro leaves, but they don’t make use of the dried cilantro plant (coriander) in their cooking process.
With Indian curries, on the other hand, coriander powder is used very regularly.
Ginger is a common staple in both Thai and Indian curries.
Thai ginger is a bit different from the ginger we’re familiar with. It’s called galangal, and it has a citrusy and earthy taste. Both ginger and galangal are part of the rhizomes family.
Should You Choose Thai Or Indian Curry?
Whichever type of curry you choose, it helps that they both come with a variety of curry sub-categories so that you can choose a curry dish that caters to your personal preferences.
For instance, if you want Thai curry for dinner, knowing that green curry is milder than a red curry will prevent you from sweating up a storm!
The flavor profiles of Thai and Indian curries will be a good thing to consider to help you choose the cuisine you’ll enjoy more. Thai curries are usually aromatic, spicy, and focused on using fresh ingredients. By comparison, Indian curries are earthier while still offering a variety of fragrant spices.
As we’ve seen in our list of differences between these two popular curries, there are many other things to consider, such as if you want a lighter and brighter curry – in which case you should choose a Thai curry – or if you’re in the mood for a curry that’s more like a stew. If that sounds good to you, an Indian curry is your best bet.
What is sour curry paste in Thailand?
This is the simplest curry paste. It contains dried red chilies, white pepper, shallots, cloves, shrimp paste, and turmeric. It’s usually eaten with fish and has a sour element that takes the form of sour pineapple, sour tamarind, or other sour tropical fruits.
Is Japanese curry a type of Indian curry?
When Indian curry powder reached Japan in the 1800s, it led to the development of Japanese curry.
This type of curry is sweet and mild, and usually served with crispy katsu, which are meat cutlets cooked with breadcrumbs, or stews.
If you love a good curry, you might be surprised to find out that Thai and Indian curries, both of which are very popular, are actually quite different.
In this article, we’ve given you the lowdown on Thai curry vs Indian curry, looking at how they’re made and what ingredients they hero. So, whether you want a hot or mild curry, you now know which one will be best to eat!