Cooking with Curry

Cooking How-To, Featured Article, How-To, Ingredient, Recipes
on December 28, 2011
Curry Noodle Soup
Teresa Blackburn

There are almost as many curry blends as there are spices, and curries have been beloved throughout Southeast Asia for centuries. Western cooks, however, are relatively new to cooking with curry, and the jumble of colorful spices can be confusing to a novice. To make a fabulous tasting curry, it's important to look at each component of the curry separately, and try and combine ingredients in such a way that they go well with each other.  Most curried dishes can be easily divided into three basic components:

Flavor base: This would be the main ingredient that would dominate the flavor of the curry dish, and could range anywhere from a simple blend of spices to coconut, yogurt or tomatoes. Deciding on your flavor base before you start to prep ingredients for the cooking will also help you to estimate what spices, meat or vegetables would best compliment it.

Feature ingredient: This would usually be the meat or vegetable that would carry the dish as the base, such as chicken, seafood, or vegetables. In many cases, more than one feature ingredient can be used, but be sure to either group items that compliment each other well, or give you a wonderful contrast. Adding peas and carrots to a potato curry would bump up the subtlety of the potatoes. But combining squash and sweet potatoes together, might lead to a bland mushy concoction.

Flavor enhancers: They can range anywhere from herbs, spices and condiments or sauces. When picking a flavor enhancer—such as a fruity relish or buttery cashews—keep in mind that you always want to choose something that would enhance the flavoring of the dish, and not overwhelm it. It's often best when you get just a slight hint of the curry in the background, giving the other components of the dish enough weight to bring it out together, as in our forgiving Curry Noodle Soup above or any of the recipes below.

— By Meenakshi Agarwal