Curry, a dish originating from southern and southeastern Asia, is a delicate combination of spices, herbs, and other savory notes, typically featuring a meat or other protein-rich substitution as star player. It is widely known to be one of the most satisfying and complex flavor combinations — its complex taste typically incorporates a zesty kick in the form of fresh or dried chili peppers.
It is said that curry is an acquired taste — but you’d be surprised how quickly you might acquire it if you tried the right recipe. All of the following recipes have received rave reviews from the public, and it’s only fair that we spread the wealth by sharing them with you now. Try testing one of these five curries on your friends or family. Even better, keep it all to yourself!
1. Spicy Chicken Coconut Curry
This traditional Indian recipe from Food Network boasts all of the subtle home-cooked flavors of southern Asia. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken seals the deal in this signature dish, and will leave your diners begging for more. Recipe takes approximately one hour and 20 minutes, including cook time, and yields 6-8 servings.
- 3 tablespoons Ghee, recipe follows
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 -inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons curry powder, recipe follows
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 to 3 dried red chiles
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (15-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Mint leaves, for garnish
- 1 pound unsalted butter
Curry Powder ( Garam Masala):
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon whole cloves
- 2 dried red chiles, broken in pieces, seeds discarded
- 2 tablespoons turmeric
Directions: Heat the ghee in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic and cook slowly until the onions are very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste, curry powder, cinnamon stick, and chiles and give it a good stir; season with salt and pepper. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock and bring it back to a simmer; cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken, cilantro, and half the lemon juice; continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro and mint leaves.
Ghee: Put the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter slowly and make sure it does not sizzle or brown. Increase the heat and bring the butter to a boil. When the surface is covered with foam, stir gently and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Gently simmer, uncovered, and undisturbed for 45 minutes, until the milk solids in the bottom of the pan have turned golden brown and the butter on top is transparent. Strain the ghee through a sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth. The ghee should be perfectly clear and smell nutty; pour into a glass jar and seal tightly.
Curry Powder ( Garam Masala): Toast the coriander, cumin, cardamom, peppercorns, fennel, mustard, cloves, and the chiles in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat just until they smell fragrant, about two minutes. In a clean coffee grinder or spice mill, grind the toasted spices together to a fine powder. Add the turmeric and give it another quick buzz to combine. Use the curry powder immediately, or store in a sealed jar for up to 1 month.
2. Jamaican Curry Shrimp
In a departure from curry’s Asian roots, this authentic recipe comes from Cook Like a Jamaican, Curry is a staple of Jamaican cuisine due to the influx of Chinese and East Indian indentured laborers who entered the nation in the 19th century. Being an island, shrimp became one of the natural featured players in Jamaican curry. Recipe takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, yielding four servings.
- 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- ½ green bell pepper, julienned
- ½ red bell pepper, julienned
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup water
Directions: Peel, de-vein raw shrimp and season with black pepper, salt and curry powder, set aside. Julienne green and red bell peppers and onion; mince garlic. Heat cooking oil on high in sauce pan. Sauté peppers, onion and garlic until onion is transparent; add 1 spring of fresh thyme. Reduce heat to medium-high and add coconut milk. Add salt, ketchup, hot pepper sauce and curry powder; stir.
Lower to Medium heat and add shrimp to vegetables and sauté until shrimp begins to turn pink. Mix water and cornstarch together and add to saucepan. Simmer for 1 minute, or until shrimp are firm and curry sauce has thickened; add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Panang Tofu Curry
Never fear, vegetarians! Curry isn’t just for the carnivores among us. Try adding some protein-heavy tofu, which will absorb the succulent flavors of the stew as it softens. This recipe from Bon Appétit takes about 40 minutes to complete, yielding 4-6 servings.
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons finely grated peeled ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ cup organic peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)*
- 1 cup water
- 1 (14-ounce) can organic light coconut milk
- 3 kaffir lime leaves or 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lime peel
- 1 tablespoon (firmly packed) golden brown sugar
- 2 14-ounce packages organic firm tofu, drained, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 ½ cups ¼-inch-thick slices peeled carrots (about 3 medium)
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ¾-inch pieces
Directions: Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, ginger, and garlic; cook until shallots are tender, about 6 minutes. Add peanut butter, turmeric, cumin, and chili paste; stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup water, then coconut milk, lime leaves, and brown sugar; bring to simmer. Season sauce with salt. Add tofu, carrots, and bell pepper; simmer over medium heat until carrots are tender, adjusting heat to medium-low if beginning to boil and occasionally stirring gently, about 20 minutes.
Season to taste with salt. The recipe can be made three days ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving. *Available in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and at Asian markets.
4. Goat Curry
BBC offers this recipe for a spiced goat curry. Goat curry is typically served with hot rice. In an homage to this dish’s Indo-Caribbean roots, you may even wish to serve alongside some delicious plantains. Recipe prep takes 25 minutes, and you will want to slow-cook the dish for about three hours. Yields four servings.
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1 cup ginger, chopped
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 scotch bonnet chillies, chopped
- small handful curry leaves
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 4 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 1 ½ pounds mutton or goat shoulder, diced
- 16-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1 ¼ cups lamb or beef stock
- 16-ounce can pinto, kidney or black-eyed beans
- juice ½ lemon
- small bunch coriander, chopped
- warmed roti (Jamaican flatbread ) and rice, to serve
Directions: Place the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor and blend to a purée. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish, add the onion mixture and cook for 5 mins until softened. Add the chillies, curry leaves, thyme, curry powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook for 2-3 mins until fragrant. Tip the mutton or goat into the pan. Cook for 5 mins over a medium-high heat until the meat has browned. Add the chopped tomatoes and stock. Increase the heat, bring to the boil and cook for 10 mins.
Reduce heat, cover and leave to simmer gently for 2 ½ hrs – remove the lid for the final 30 mins of cooking. Add the beans to heat through, plus more chili if you want it spicier. After 5 mins more, remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice and coriander, and stir well. Serve with warmed roti and rice.
5. Fragrant Beef Curry with Rice
This hearty recipe from Epicurious, with its savory broth and chunks beef loaded wit protein, will likely keep you satisfied for two meals. Don’t gobble it down too fast! Recipe prep takes about 45 minutes, cook time is two hours (for maximum tenderness). Recipe yields six servings.
- 2 pounds well-trimmed boneless beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 3 large tomatoes, quartered
- 3 tablespoons Major Grey chutney
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Hot cooked rice
Directions: Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Working in batches, add beef to pot and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer to plate. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until tender and brown, about 7 minutes. Return beef to pot.
Add cloves, garlic, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf and dried red pepper to pot; stir 1 minute. Stir in milk, tomatoes, chutney, lemon juice, ginger, curry powder and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beef is tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Uncover; increase heat to medium. Boil stew until juices are slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve over rice.