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Thai and Indian curries are loved and enjoyed all over the world. Although they share the spotlight, if you look closely you will notice how different they truly are. The core ingredients and the methods used to cook them create very different flavors.
To start with, Thai curries begin with a paste that is heated in a pan with a little oil, this rich paste is made from a blend of ingredients and is the essence of the curry. It usually includes lemongrass, galangal and chilies giving the curry a fresh citrusy flavor.
In comparison, Indian curries start by sizzling dry spices such as cumin, turmeric and coriander before adding onions and tomatoes, creating a warm hearty flavor. Note that Thai curries can be made more quickly than Indian, meaning they might be better when you don't have much time.
Another essential difference is the use of coconut milk. Thai curries rely on coconut milk as the main liquid to elongate the curry and give it a light velvety texture and soup-like consistency. On the contrary, coconut milk is rarely used in Indian cuisine and they usually opt for yogurt, cream or just a little water instead. On top of this, most Indian curries also include blended onions and tomatoes obtaining an even thicker consistency, making them more like a stew.
Speaking of coconut milk…Thai curries don’t contain any dairy products which will come as a relief to any lactose intolerant curry-lovers. In fact, dairy is very rarely used in Thai cuisine at all, meanwhile, coconut milk is a favorite ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. In contrast, as we mentioned earlier, Indian curries often include cream or yogurt as well as a generous amount of butter to get that indulgent richness. This key difference affects both the flavor and consistency of the two varieties of curry.
Now, this last point may come as a surprise as when we talk about spicy food, more often than not, India comes to mind. However, traditional Thai curry is actually spicier than its Indian cousin.
Packed with fresh green and red chilies, you should prepare yourself for some serious heat. But don’t worry if your eyes turn into waterfalls at the mention of spicy food, you can always ask for a mild version or simply add less chilly if you are cooking it at home.