Educate me about curry

I’m very ignorant about curry. My two favorite curry dishes currently (not that I’ve had all that many) are both from Chinese restaurants: Singapore rice noodle and curried chicken with onion. Both have the same sort of flavor, but I don’t know what that flavor is.

Is Chinese curry curry? Does it have to be Indian to be curry? Does that word sound really silly to anyone else? Curry curry curry.

I live in an area where just going to Indian restaurants ain’t happening. I’d like to experiment more with curries, but I need some handholding.


All I know about curry is from Indian and Thai restaurants in the Netherlands and the UK, and my cook books.

From what I’ve gathered, curry is basically a stew which can contain fish, seafood, meat or vegetables cooked in a sauce usually made with yoghurt or coconut milk and a mix of various spices. Usually curries take a lot less time to cook than “European” stews (1/2 hour or less seems typical instead of 3+ hours for a beef stew - but that may be just the recipes that I’ve tried - most of the curry recipes I’ve cooked chop the meat down a lot smaller or use fish or seafood that cooks a lot quicker)

Fresh cilantro/coriander is probably the flavour you’re thinking of, since it’s really hard to describe and very distinctive (it tastes “fresh” to people who like it, and it apparently tastes like soap to people who don’t). Other commonly used seasonings (depending on region and cook) are red chillis, cumin, fish sauce and cardamom, combined with the usual things like garlic, onion pepper etc. and/or other spices.

I’m by no means a curry expert, but to keep this thread going until someone with real expertise comes along, you might try currys in Thai places if you like Chinese currys (curries?). In my experience, Indian currys are soupier than Chinese and Thai curries.

Unfortunately, Thai places aren’t very common here, either. I think there’s one in a strip mall about a half hour away, but I haven’t been there.

Thanks for the bump.

Superfluous Parentheses, I don’t think your parentheses were superfluous. I call fraud! :smiley: Thanks for the info.

I’ll also echo that a Thai restaurant is what you need. IIRC, you’re near Columbus. While I live in Akron, I think there is a superb Thai restaurant in Columbus, at which I have never eaten. :slight_smile:

I’ll try to find out from a friend down your way where to go. Then you have to decide whether to get green/yellow/red curry.
My preference is for Malay curry, which is yellow.

from Wikipedia

Curry is not one single thing, it is a common name for any and all gravy-based Indian and Thai dishes. The word “Curry” is not even Indian, it originates from an anglicized version of the Hindi/Urdu word for pepper, “Kari/Kali Mirch”. In India most curries will be called something-“masala” (meaning spice-mix), or simply the name of the dominant ingredients. The “curry” Aloo-Matar, for instance translates directly to Potato-Pea.
Indian masala blends contains a variety of different spices, like cardamom, cloves, fenugreek seeds, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, coriander seeds, etc. The typical way of preparing a curry is to fry the spice mix with garlic, chili, ginger, and onions until they turn golden, add meat/veggies and fry a bit more, then add water/cream/coconut milk and reduce.

At the bottom of the curry Wikipedia article linked by samclem, you can also read about Japanese curry, which is pretty different from the Indian and Thai curries. Heck, it’s already pretty different from Chinese curry - in fact, it seems that it’s its own animal all on its own.

Japanese curry is surely the red-headed idiot step-child of all other Asian curries. I have tried a few but only once each.

The traditional south Asian curry flavour that you describe in your Chinese ersatz versions is likely to be derived from cumin, coriander seed, and fenugreek (and possibly cardamom and turmeric). If you buy OTC powdered garam masala or curry powder, this is the usual base.

Northern Indian and Pakistani curries (e.g. jalfrezi, balti) contain a lot of tomato and/or yogurt. They can be quite heavy.

Bangladeshi curries are slightly lighter and often contain fish or seafood.

Southern Indian curries are very delicate, usually vegetarian, and have a lot of coconut in them.

Thai curry usually contains most of the following ingredients:

Chilli peppers
Fish sauce
Galangal (a kind of ginger)
Coconut milk

Malaysian curries are like the Indian version mixed with the Thai version. In the Malay language, “kari” is interchangeable with “soup”; curries in Thailand and Malaysia tend to be very runny compared to what we’re used to here.

BTW, they don’t serve Singapore noodles in Singapore. The closest you’ll get is “mee fun”, which might or might not be flavored with the curry powder I mentioned at the top of this post, and saffron - but I’ve never seen all the ingredients in a single dish.

Oops, I see I missed out kaffir lime leaves (and also lime juice) from my “standard” Thai ingredients list. Sorry.

The Vietnamese do something they will tell you is “curry”. And it is. Sort of. It’s more of a meaty soup, thinner than a stew, and you break up those French-influenced Vietnamese bread rolls and soak up the juice. It’s nice, but it’s not what I go after when I am jonesing for a real curry.

Indian places are not hard to find here in Sydney, but I don’t think they’re up to the legendary standards of the UK ones. I make my own (usually Indian, but sometimes Singapore/Malaysian or Thai), or I make hangdog faces at an Indian cow-orker of mine who makes some kickarse stuff (although I like to make mine hotter than she does, but hers are just better somehow).

Man, I’m jonesing soooo bad for some curry right now.


Oh many of the better ones are way better than you get in England. Even among cheaper affordable places in western sydney abhi’s on Concord Rd at North Strathfield is fantastic, the family have another place on the harbour I think. *hotel saravana bhavan * on The Strand near Croydon station is a dump but the food was great a while back. And *flavour of india * on Glebe Point Rd is great. The sitdown restaurant is on GPR but if you go around the corner there is a takeaway place (it does have sit down tables) that is the back of the same kitchen but half the price with no service. Great value, and the best mango chicken I have ever had.

If you would like to experiment with indian style curries, I’d reccomend this book.

I bought it several years ago and tried several, and loved them. They use a mixture of onions, garlic + ginger that you can freeze. This forms the base for most of the curries, and makes preparation much easier.

This site has recipes for “restaurant style” curries, like you’d find in the UK, for instance. I’ve used them before, and they’re pretty good.

The one time I saw singapore noodles made by a thai guy, the “curry sauce” was a very simple affair. It was basically a tablespoon or so of your average curry powder straight from the spice rack, stir fried at a low temperature with a couple tablespoons of oil. A very small amount of chicken stock was added and the cooked/rehydrated noodles were tossed and stir fried in this curry oil.

Singaporean here but I’ve never had Singapore noodles so I’ve no idea what’s in it really. But curry noodles exist, the Chinese style dish being simply egg noodles dunked in a runny chicken curry. Then there’s also laksa, curry versions of which exist. It uses the “mee fun” or rice vermicilli that jjimm mentions.

The recipe for singapore noodles that I saw the Thai guy make on a cooking show was very similr to this singapore noodle recipe from Australia.

Yeah, I’d say cumin and coriander are the predominant flavors one thinks of when one thinks of generic “curry” as in curry powder. Fenugreek isn’t quite as pervasive (in my experience). Turmeric, of course, is most often responsible for the yellow color most people associate with curry.

If you want a source for curry ingredients (and Thai food things in general), check out:

They will mail-order whatever you can’t find locally.

Man, I love curries.