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A few questions about my first curry.
August 17, 2013 5:52 AM   Subscribe

Earlier this week, I made this 'Asian-Style Chicken Curry', and it was delicious. I just have a couple of questions on altering the recipe.

It was tasty, but I would like to make it spicy-hot. What's the best way to do this? The recipe suggests adding chili powder, will that add heat? More curry powder? Something else?

I wasn't able to find green curry powder, so instead I just used curry powder. How much would be changed if I used green curry paste?
posted by graventy to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Add cayenne pepper to taste, or some fresh hot chilis cut very fine. Adding heat is really the easiest thing with these recipes.
Re which curry powder to use, I'm sure that in a generic "easy fix" type of recipe like this one, it isn't crucial. If you happen to come across green curry powder, just try it. You might like it (that's what food is about anyway).
posted by Namlit at 6:04 AM on August 17, 2013


If you use the green curry paste it will be a lot hotter as a usual primary ingredient is hot green chillis.
posted by BenPens at 6:08 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Namlit's right. Adding cayenne powder or fresh chilis to taste is the way to make it hotter. If you go for fresh chilis, look for the smaller, red thai chilis. Most thai restaurants adjust heat by adding fresh or dried chilis.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:09 AM on August 17, 2013


I would add diced Thai bird's-eye chilis about a minute before the curry was done simmering. I like my food very spicy, and I find that using five or six of them and a 4 ounce can of curry paste gives a curry a good heat - maybe start with fewer peppers, because you can always just garnish with more at the table. Be sure to wash your hands very thoroughly - I mean like way more thoroughly than you think you need - after handling the diced peppers, or wear rubber gloves when handling them, or you'll regret it the next time you touch anywhere sensitive.

If you're going to use a Thai curry paste (I think Maesri makes a good one), I'd change the order of the recipe a bit - brown the potatoes and onions first, then reserve them, then open up a can of coconut milk and heat the "head" of the milk - the top third of the can, which will be the thickest part - over medium high heat. When the coconut milk head is good and bubbling, stir in the curry paste, and once it's mixed uniformly, you can actually brown the chicken in the coconut milk/curry mix and the chicken will take on more of the flavor. You can add in the rest of the can where the recipe says to add the milk. If you want to keep to the Thai theme, you can also use fish sauce where the recipe calls for soy sauce.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:52 AM on August 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


You need to add chills (minced) or green curry powder (which is mostly hot chills.) What's sold in the store as "curry powder" tends to be mostly cumin and turmeric, which are not hot.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:18 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never come across green thai curry powder, and I am not a fan (and, totally you should make your own if you love curry and have access to green chillis) but I would certainly look for pastes over powders (hunt down your local Asian store if you have done).

Indian curry (which I am guessing you used) and Thai Green Curry are essentially different, so you have fusioned your meal. Best to go back to basics.

But yes, chilli powder will work. It'll just be a blunt instrument. Fresh chillies are awesome, but slice thinly and always wash your hands. Twice.
posted by Mezentian at 9:59 AM on August 17, 2013


OK, so a "curry" can be a lot of things.

There's curry powder. What's in the curry powder will depend on the brand, but it's usually turmeric, coriander, cumin, and things like that. None of those spices are traditionally "hot" spices, and in my experience curry powder isn't meant to taste spicy hot. FWIW I've never heard of green curry powder and have no idea what would be in that. Regular curry powder is based on an English understanding of Indian spices, and the whole red/green/yellow curry concept doesn't exist in Indian cuisine.

There's also curry paste. This is more of a southeast Asian thing than an Indian thing, and depending on the paste you use it can be spicy hot or just flavorfully spiced a la the curry powder you've already experienced. I've never had a mouth-burningly spicy southeast Asian curry, of any color, but I like spicy food a lot and it's possible that there's a traditional ranking of which is the spiciest.

Then there's authentic Indian dishes, which, if they're meant to be spicy*, will use little green chillies. They're very small and lime green in color, and they're not terribly hot. You can eat one raw without too much trauma. It's more like a jalapeno than a habanero. This is probably what you want if you want to make a "curry" dish that is spicy hot.

I would not use chili powder to make a South or Southeast Asian dish hotter.

*Most authentic Indian food is not meant to be hot at all, and not all Indian dishes will taste good with a bunch of chilies thrown into them.
posted by Sara C. at 10:58 AM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


A green curry paste will on its own make your recipe hotter than your standard store-bought curry powder. And probably tastier!

Mr Origami likes his curry milder than I do, so we err in that direction and add heat after the fact with Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. So there's an idea.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 12:57 PM on August 17, 2013


If you click on the "Source:" link under the photo, it'll take you to the original blog post that describes it as a Filipino take on curry (and there's no mention of "green" curry powder - just regular old curry powder). It's meant to be a relatively mild dish, in terms of heat, and very different from Indian, Thai, and Japanese curries, which are all different from each other.
posted by WasabiFlux at 2:54 PM on August 17, 2013


Then there's authentic Indian dishes, which, if they're meant to be spicy*, will use little green chillies. They're very small and lime green in color, and they're not terribly hot. You can eat one raw without too much trauma. It's more like a jalapeno than a habanero. This is probably what you want if you want to make a "curry" dish that is spicy hot.

I would not use chili powder to make a South or Southeast Asian dish hotter.


Essentially agree, but would disagree that you can never use chili powder in a South Asian dish -- chili powder is used quite commonly in South Asian recipes, except that by that is meant powdered cayenne rather than chili powder as used in the US.
posted by peacheater at 4:20 PM on August 17, 2013


Yeah, definitely not saying that no South Asian dishes ever have powdered dried chilis in them. Just that dumping a bunch of what is sold in the US as "chili powder" will not produce the desired effect.

I would put almost ANYTHING spicy into a curry to heat it up before I'd add straight chili powder. Ew.

Sriracha sauce, diced or pureed raw chili peppers, or cayenne would all be better choices.
posted by Sara C. at 4:33 PM on August 17, 2013


When I've already prepared a saucy curry or stir fry, and it still lacks heat, my go-to is Sriracha.

The linked recipe doesn't have you painstakingly preparing your own curry powder or paste, so you could also just experiment with different types of curry powders and pastes until you find a hotter one that suits you. If you really really like this exact flavor profile and just want more heat, there are extracts available that impart heat without much flavor.

For something like this, I'd probably just tweak it with Sriracha and call it a day.

You could also just try whatever hot peppers looked good at the grocery store. The great thing about most hot peppers is that they're so cheap by the pound - they weigh practically nothing, so you can afford to experiment.
posted by nobejen at 9:18 PM on August 17, 2013


Thanks a lot guys, I really appreciate your help! I'll try it again tomorrow with some chilis!
posted by graventy at 5:40 PM on August 18, 2013


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