Curry is India’s most popular food contribution to the culinary world. While curry has so many variations from chicken to goat, one key ingredient 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 not true. Some claim that one is better than the other and this is simply misleading to curry lovers everywhere.
Both have advantages and disadvantages and if you really want a great curry experience then it is best to know when to use which curry ingredient.
What Is Curry Powder?
The earliest accounts of curry powder dates back in a newspaper advertisement in 1784. It 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, circulation, vigorous mind and a 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 have a mixture of spices normally containing coriander, turmeric, and red peppers.
This means that if you are considering making curry then it is a good bet to make your own curry powder blend. This way you can adjust the spices according to your taste and is pretty much how they are doing it in Indian kitchens.
However, for those who like a little bit of convenience, there are dozens of curry powder that are known to be of good quality. One curry blend that I always recommend is the Frontier Coop Curry Powder, which is a blend that is fantastic and rich. You can check them out at their online store.
What Is Curry Paste?
Curry paste is also a blend of spices but is mixed with wet ingredients. The wet ingredient added to the spice blend is typically oil mixed with some garlic and ginger. Curry paste is typically much stronger than curry powder thus making it better for other cooking applications.
A popular curry paste variation is called the Thai curry paste. This type of curry paste is normally classified into three categories which are green, yellow, and red curry paste. The 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 would not go wrong with the Mae Anong Brand. It maintains an authentic and distinct curry flavor without being too overpowering. You can check it out at Amazon.
Which Is Better Between Curry Powder And Curry Paste?
This particular question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.
- The first question to ask yourself would be how much experience have you had eating curry?
If the answer is not that much then I would suggest using curry powder first as it is less potent than the curry paste. This will allow you to acquaint yourself with curry’s distinct and powerful flavors as not all people can handle a strong curry on their first try.
On the other hand, seasoned curry eaters will probably enjoy the more robust flavors of curry paste. Some curry paste can surely pack on the heat as well as overwhelm 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?
Thai Pumpkin Soup (Via FoodieCrush)
If you are dealing with soups, then it might be a good idea to use some curry paste. Curry paste 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 become more and more seeped into the stew or meat and will produce really vibrant and amazing flavors.
Curry is one of those dishes that is definitely a must eat for real foodies. To amateur cooks and chefs, learning to use curry paste and curry powder could boost their culinary knowledge and produce one of a kind dishes. The versatility of curry is one amazing treat for those who can properly use its main ingredient.