15+ Popular Indian Curries
THEME: #255 DESI BASE CURRIES
GET TO KNOW YOUR INDIAN CURRY
This Week’s Theme on FoodieMonday/Bloghop Group:
This week’s theme Desi Base Curries has been suggested by Preethi who blogs at Preethi’s Cuisine. Preethi suggested that we make a base curry of our choice which is a part of the Indian cuisine.
What is a Curry?
Curry is a word coined during the British Rule in India. It originates from the Tamil word kari which means a sauce or relish for usually rice. Curry originates from the Indian Sub Continent. Although curry refers to both a dried or wet version of any dish prepared to enjoy with rice or flatbreads, the world generally knows it as meat, fish, vegetables, etc, cooked in a sauce base.
Difference between Gravy and Curry or Sauce
Many a times, people interchange the word gravy and curry. Actually, gravy is prepared from the water or juice and fats that are released by meats, chicken, fish, etc are cooked. A bit of flour and spices are used to thicken the gravy and its always served on the side. Curries are where the main ingredient is cooked in a sauce till done.
Spices were ground using a mortar and pestle and added to whatever dish prepared during the Indus Civilization. Places like Mohenjo – Daro and Harappa had access to spices and fresh ingredients as they were trading posts. Back then there was no evidence of tomato or potato being used.
During the Mughal Era, curries especially in the Northern part of the Subcontinent were largely influenced with flavors from Persia, Afghanistan and Middle East. Curries at that time were not hot spice wise but mild and flavourful. Meats were marinated in spices like saffron, cardamom, cloves, nutmegs and then cooked in butter and yogurt. This changed the curry scene completely.
The Portuguese introduced India to potatoes, tomatoes and hot peppers brought from the Americas. Slowly these ingredients got introduced to curries as we know them today.
Most families have their basic curry base which many prepare in bulk and store it to make cooking easier.
Preethi likes to make the basic onion and coconut curry base for quick and easy curries. The basic curry base flavour is faire day adding tamarind, tomato or dry mango powder.
Types of Curry
If you’re ever in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, you’ll not come across any native referring to food preparations with sauces as curry. You will hear terms like rasa, rasawaru, saag, makhani, bhaji, rasam, kadhi, sambhar, bharta, jhol, masala, tadka, poshto, etc. Curry is a term used by people outside the Sub Continent.
These are some of the most popular curry names you’ll find on the menus of any Indian Restaurants. Its good to know what type of curry you’re ordering.
Curry base is generally with almonds, cream and much milder than a korma. The word pasanda means like. In the olden times its believed that the best lamb or mutton steaks were flattened and cut into strips. These were fried in spices and then added to the creamy almond coconut sauce. The mildness but flavors is generally liked by all especially those who venture out to try curries for the first time. The meat, chicken, paneer, mushrooms, potatoes, etc are marinated in the sauce with spices and cooked. Sometime coconut too is used. Generally Pasanda is white in colour but these days people tend to add turmeric which results in a yellow curry.
Similar to Pasanda, its made from almonds and coconut but the difference is that in Korma saffron is added giving the curry sauce a nice pale yellow colour. Like Pasanda korma is rich, creamy and delicious.
Check out Shahi Mushroom Korma to find out how the curry and spice mixture is made to create a rich and creamy curry.
You may have come across the word Mughlai curry often. However, Mughlai is very similar to korma or pasanda.
The Mughlai Egg Curry that I love to prepare has all spices, mixture of nuts, cream, yogurt, coconut.
This curry originates from Bengal whereby the meat, chicken, fish is fried with spices at high temperature. Bhuna means to fry or roast. The meat, chicken, fish is fried with spices. Its is then added to the onion tomato sauce along with more spices. Its then covered and allowed to cook. The meat, chicken, fish etc releases its own juice or water and gets cooked in it. No water is added. A vegetarian version is also made these days whereby the vegetables and paneer are fried in oil and added to the tomato onion sauce. Here a little water is added as vegetables don’t release too much water.
For a basic Bhuna Masala check out Swaty’s blog.
This curry is believed to be of Persian origin and came to India through Kashmir. Rogan means oil and josh is hot or heat. However, though the curry looks red, its not that hot, and its all depends on how you make it. The onion is caramelized, spices are roasted and the marinated meat is added to the sauce. The redness comes from the Kashmiri Chilli Powder that is used, giving it a red colored curry. Traditionally lamb or mutton is used. Having said that, these days its easy to find vegetarian versions of the rogan josh mainly because of the flavorful curry. Paneer, tofu, potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, mixed vegetables are used.
Click on Shobha’s Mutton Rogan Josh recipe to learn how to make it step by step.
Butter or Makhani
As the name suggests, this curry is prepared using butter. In the olden times homemade butter was used to stir fry the onion, tomatoes and spices. Once cooked, it was ground into a smooth sauce and then meat, chicken, paneer, mushrooms etc were added to the creamy sauce. And its served with a dollop of butter on top. The story goes that three men with their families fled from Peshwar to Delhi during the Partition in 1947. They set up a restaurant called Moth Mahal in Delhi and from there the world was introduced to the famous Murg Makhani.
Check this Paneer Makhani recipe out to know how to make the makhani sauce.
For tikka masala the main sauce ingredients are onion and tomato. Spices are added to make a sauce. Then marinated and tandoor cooked chicken tikka pieces, meat tikka, paneer tikka or mushroom tikka are added to the curry or sauce. Depending on how it is made it can be mild to hot.
Jolly uses her homemade tandoori masala to marinate the chicken to make Chicken Tikka Masala.
Originating from Bengal, jalfrezi is a stir fry. This dish was the first one in India that incorporated red peppers in the sauce. Sweet peppers, tomatoes, onion, coconut and spices are cooked together a semi dry sauce. It is believed that the word originates from the Bengali word dhal which means spicy food and porhezi which means suitable for a diet. Leftover meat or chicken was made into a new dish by stir frying wth onion, tomatoes and peppers.
Niranjana makes a Veg Jalfrezi using paneer but you can replace the paneer with your choice of meat.
Its believed that Vindaloo is the hottest curry in regards to spices. Hot sweet and sour vindaloo is made from tomato, chillis, cumin this curry was actually influenced by the Portuguese traders who visited Goa during the 16th Century. The Portuguese would also add wine and garlic to prepare the curry. Over time the Indian Chefs replaced the wine with palm vinegar. The word vindaloo originates from the Portuguese term ‘vin d’alho’ (wine and garlic).
Though Pork Vindaloo is the most popular, check out Amrita’s Chicken Vindaloo recipe to get an idea how to prepare the vindaloo curry base or sauce.
Preethi makes a delicious looking Mushroom Vindaloo. Check out her recipe.
This curry is from South India. The sauce or curry is made using tomatoes, coriander, cumin and fenugreek. This curry is spicy and hot. During the British Rule, basic curries were the same except that Madras curry was milder than a Vindaloo. Over time Madras Curry has evolved to include other spices, some add coconut milk and some add tamarind.
Saag is another curry base that is very popular. When one talks about saag and immediately Punjabi cuisine comes to one’s mind. However saag is not restricted to Punjab only but is popular in Nepal, Kashmir, Odisha, West Bengal. A mixture of leafy greens are used to prepare the main sauce or curry. Onion, garlic, green chillis, ginger and sometimes a bit of tomato is added. To this green curry or sauce, chicken, fish, meat, paneer, mushrooms, potatoes are added.
Kadhai (kadai) means a wok in Hindi and masala is spices. For kadhai masala curry base the spices are first roasted in a kadhai and then ground. The main spices used are coriander seeds, cumin and fennel. Other spices are added depending on different regions and family recipes. The kadhai masala is then added to a curry base of either tomatoes, yogurt, etc. You may have come across dishes like kadhai mushrooms, kadhai paneer, kadhai chicken, etc.
Priya has decided to make her kadhai masala with dry red chillis added to the basic coriander and cumin.
Do Pyaza, a Punjabi curry is where onion is added to the curry or sauce twice. Firstly, finely chopped is stir fried with spices, chilli, garlic and ginger. Then tomato is added and cooked till done. Chunky shallowed fried onion is added along with the meat, chicken, paneer, fish, vegetables. This curry can be either be semi dry or with a bit of sauce.
Lesser known curries abroad but popular in India:
Achari curry is made with meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, paneer, eggs, etc. Marinated main ingredient is added to an achari curry or sauce. Some add oil and sauce from the homemade pickles or make a sauce or curry from scratch. Spices that are used for pickles are used to make the curry.
Jolly uses ready made marinated chicken but made the achari sauce at home. Check out her Achari Murg Recipe. Replace the chicken with fish, meat, paneer, mushrooms or even tofu.
Make Egglpants in pickle curry or sauce, like Poonam does – Achari Baigan.
A popular curry from the state of Maharashtra. The curry base is a spicy coconut one. One can use chicken, vegetables, fish, meat, paneer etc.
Want a fish curry cooked in the Kolhapuri style? Check out Shobha’s Maharashtrian Fish Curry.
Exact origin of this curry is unknown. Some say it was brought to the Indian Sub Continent by the Mughals and some claim it to be an Awadhi dish. The meat or chicken is usually put in a pot with stock, spices and herbs, sealed and allowed to cook slowly overnight. Its served for breakfast.
Check out Shobha’s Nalli Nihari Ghosht recipe.
Sambhar and Rasam
The base for this popular curry is lentil along with onion, coconut , tomato and spices. Vegetables are added to make it more wholesome.It is enjoyed with rice, idlis, dosa, uttapam is lentil along with onion, coconut, tomato and spices.
Sambhar or Sambar is usually a bit thicker with a variety of vegetables like Priya’s Udupi Sambar. Rasam on the other hand is usually made with the leftover water in which lentils are cooked or very little lentil is used. Its much more watery in consistency.
Hubby loves to have Mysuru Saaru or Mysore Rasam with rice and I can sip it on its own.
A popular curry from West Bengal where soaked and ground poppy seeds along with spices forms the base curry or sauce.
To make the basic poppy seed curry, sauce or poshto check out Aloo Posto recipe. You can replace the aloo with fish, meat, chicken, mushrooms, other vegetables or even paneer.
An Awadhi speciality, originally mutton is cooked in turmeric and saffron curry along with other spices and served with gold leaves or sheets covering the meat.
I’ve prepared the basic Kundan Kaliya curry or sauce but replaced the meat with paneer. Also since I had no access to the silver or gold edible leaves or sheets I’ve not used it.
A yogurt based curry which is usually plain, with fritters or some vegetables added to it. I’ve yet to come across a kadhi where non veg is added. Most famous from the regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan but not restricted to those parts of India. Its usually enjoyed with some plain rice or flatbread.
Try a plain kadhi with some rice , an okra kadhi with some flatbread or a Punjabi style Pakora Kadhi with jeera rice. Try a Rajasthani style Gatte ki Sabji which can be made using yogurt and chickpea flour curry or only chickpea flour.
For these curries the sauces or curries will vary from ones made with onion, tomato to coconut and lentils. However, what sets them apart from other curries is that fried meat balls, chicken balls, fish balls, lentil fritters, veg and paneer koftas are added to the sauce.
Priya’s Lentil dumplings in a tamarind sauce or curry is an interesting recipe.
Have you ever tried a Bottle Gourd and Paneer Kofta Curry? Click on the link to find out how to make this yummy kofta curry.
When one talks about Goan Curry, coconut is associated with it. Most popular is Fish Goan Curry but other ingredients are used to make a Goan Curry. A Tondak or cowpeas prepared in a coconut curry may interest you.
Famous in the Hyderabad and Telangana area, this sauce or curry is usually made with peanuts, coconut and sesame seeds. Most popular is mirch Salan but other vegetables like okra, eggplant, or even fish are used. Salan is usually served with biryani but can be served with any rice dish. I’ve tried out Sujata’s Mirch Salan and can tell you its finger licking good.
Chettinad is the cuisine and the curry base made for the Chettinad curries is also quite famous in India. Chicken, meat, fish, paneer or vegetables are marinated in a yogurt with few spices. The sauce or curry is made using red chillis, coconut, poppy seeds, peanuts, spices like cumin, fennel, coriander, black pepper, cardamom, etc along with onions, garlic and gingerly oil. Kalpasi (dagad phool, black stone flower) is sometimes added. All the spices used are freshly ground.
Malini’s Chettinad Egg Curry is a good example how the curry base is made.
Maharashtrian Kanda Khobra Vatan
This curry is base is where roasted onion and coconut along with spices and ground together. This curry base is used for a variety of Maharashtrian dishes like Shevgyachya shenganchi bhaji, bhaji chi amti, Patvadi chi bhaji,etc. If you want to try out this curry base then check out Poonam’s Kanda Khobra Vatan recipe.
No Tomato Curry Base
If you want a no tomato curry base then check out Preethi’s Onion And Coconut Curry.
Do Pyaza Curry
For this week’s theme I decided to make a Do Pyaza Curry. While Chicken, Mutton and Fish Do Pyaza are very popular, the vegetarian ones are equally popular. One can use paneer, mushrooms, okra, potato, corn and mixed vegetables too. Spices used will vary from home to home but what sets this curry apart from the rest is the usage of onions twice. This results in a slightly sweetish but aromatic curry.
Ingredients required for Do Pyaza Curry:
- Onions – I used 2 large ones. One onion was finely chopped and the other into chunks.
- Tomatoes – you can use 3 tomatoes but I used fresh tomato puree which I always keep ready in my fridge for curries and dals.
- Cumin – for tempering
- Bay Leaf – whole
- Pepper corns – whole
- Cloves – whole
- Cinnamon – whole
- Cardamom – whole
- Coriander Powder
- Red Chilli Powder
- Turmeric Powder
- Garam Masala
- Ginger paste
- Garlic Paste
- Fresh Green Chilli Paste
- Fresh cream – optional
- Sugar – optional. I didn’t add any as the sweetness from the onions was fine for my family.
DO PYAZA BASIC CURRY/DO PYAZA MASALA
- 2 large onions
- 3 large tomatoes or ¾ cup fresh tomato puree
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cardomoms
- 4-6 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- ½ -1 tsp green chilli paste
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ½ - 1 tsp red chilli powder
- ½ - 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp fresh cream
- ½ tsp sugar optional
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped
- ½ cup water
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
- Add bay leaf, clove, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper corns to the hot oil. This will help to make the oil flavourful.
- Add the onion chunks and saute till the pieces become transculent.
- Remove only the onion from the pan and keep on the side till required.
- Add the remaining oil in the pan and let it become hot.
- Add cumin seeds. As soon as they begin to sizzle, add finely chopped onion.
- Saute the onion till it becomes light brown in colour.
- Add ginger, garlic and chilli paste. Stir fry for a few seconds.
- Add the chopped tomato or tomato puree.
- Add salt, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and red chilli powder.
- Mix and cover the pan. Allow the tomatoes to cook and become soft.
- Add the chunky onion pieces, kasuri methi, chopped coriander and cream. Add sugar also if you're using any.
- Mix the curry well.
- The basic do pyaza curry is ready.
- To add the main ingredient after the tomatoes are cooked, you've got to stir fry it first in oil and then add to the curry base. Add water and let the curry cook over low heat and covered. I added some paneer cubes. I allowed the paneer to cook a bit in 1 tbsp ghee before adding to the curry. After that added the chunky onion pieces, kasuri methi, coriander and cream.
- To this basic Do Pyaza curry you can add stir fried or marinated chicken, meat pieces, fish, paneer, boiled eggs, vegetables, etc.
- Adjust the spices according to your taste.
- Do Pyaza can be semi dry or wet curry.
- Can store Do Pyaza curry base in the fridge for a week.
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