Using the right seasonings or spices can make or break your dish. Understanding the kick they provide or how much you should use for each of them is key to spicing up your meals without overpowering other flavors. One of the most common spices available is curry, but did you know this seasoning blend is so much more than just a spice? Follow the first chapter of our guide to understanding spices and learn everything you need to know about curry – along with delicious recipe inspiration using Mahatma® Rice!

Is Curry a Dish or Spice?

For starters, a puzzling question about curry is whether the spice and the recipe are the same or not. While these are definitely tied together, you should know that there are curry powders, curry pastes and curry dishes. Moreso, curry meals can also be named after specific cooking styles – like Tandoori or Madras.

If this all sounds a little confusing, don’t worry. This guide is meant to cover all the questions you have, so get ready to explore the diversity of flavor that this spice and some related recipes have to offer! 

Curry Powder

We’ll start by diving into one of its most common forms: curry powder. More than simply a spice, curry powder is made from a blend of aromatic spices that will add flavor, aroma and color to any dish you prepare with it. Ultimately, you want to use curry to bring out the natural taste of some ingredients and to brighten up soups, stews, meats or hearty curry dishes. The spice mix can be bought ready from the store or prepared on your own.

Curry jasmine rice with beef burger patties, vegetables and kale
Beef Curry Rice Burger Bowls

DIY Curry Powder

A curry mix has a warm, robust spicy taste as a result of combining roasted and grounded coriander seeds, turmeric, cumin and chili peppers. Other spices commonly found within the blend are fenugreek, clove, mustard, black pepper, nutmeg or ginger. Depending on which spices you combine, you will get a milder or spicier taste. Try using a store-bought or homemade blend to season any of the recipes below:

Garam Masala

Contrary to what most people think, curry powder and Garam Masala are not the same either. Actually, if you were to travel to India, you wouldn’t find “curry powder” in any spice market or store, as this spice blend became popular as the British take on Indian Garam Masala. The term “masala” is hindi for “mix of spices”, but this traditional blend has a different flavor profile than curry powder as it is prepared from other components.

For a warm and bitter taste, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mace, cardamom, peppercorns, coriander, turmeric and cumin are combined. For some, Garam Masala also offers a sweet undertone when used in marinades or to season vegetables and meats. 

Curried Vegetables Soup with Jasmine Rice and Quinoa

In this easy Biryani recipe, the spice blend is used to infuse and flavor the chicken and vegetables, which are served over Jasmine Rice to soak up all the spiced juices. You can also use it to boost the flavor of this Curried Veggie Jasmine Rice with Quinoa Soup.

Curry Paste

Similar to the powder, curry paste is also made from a spice blend but they are actually different ingredients that should not be used interchangeably. Curry pastes are a thick concentrated spice that should be diluted in wet ingredients like coconut milk to season food. It’s usage is very common in Southeast Asian dishes, where Thai-inspired curries are recognized for being prepared with curry paste instead of powder.

You should also know that depending on the flavor you are looking for you can choose from red, yellow and green curry paste. The red one is the spiciest one while green curry paste is the mildest.

one-pot-green-curry-with-chicken-and-jasmine-rice
One-Pot Green Curry Chicken

For a bright mild-curry flavor, this One-Pot Green Chicken Curry is spiced with green curry paste and also curry powder. If you are looking for spicier curry flavors, give these Thai Coconut Chicken Burritos a try seasoned with Thai red coconut paste.

Curry Dishes

Within Indian curries, you would be surprised at the number of different types of recipes available. The same happens with the different recipes for paella, each pertaining to the local ingredient variations from all over Spain. It is also true that rather than a recipe, traditional curries are actually a cooking method. Let’s dive deep into some of these!

Biryani

We already mentioned our delicious and easy recipe for an Everyday Biryani. However, more than an actual curry, this is a curried, aromatic dish that can be prepared with any meat, vegetables, herbs and spices along with a fragrant rice variety. Did you know every region of India has its own signature recipe for this dish?

Tikka Masala

Probably the most popular recipe, Tikka Masala is often mistaken for Tandoori. These two curries are very similar in flavor, but they are prepared after different cooking methods. Tikka is for meat or vegetables marinated in spices and yogurt that is often skewered for roasting. While in Tandoori recipes, ingredients are roasted in a tandoori oven – now you know the difference! 

Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice
Easy Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice

Our recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala is seasoned with both curry powder and Garam Masala for authentic flavors in every bite.

Korma

Consisting of meat and vegetables, Korma is an internationally recognized curry that is served with yogurt and basmati rice. Korma actually refers to the cooking method of a recipe prepared with Garam Masala spice blend.

Madras

More than a single recipe, madras curry or sauce is a hot spiced concoction seasoned with loads of chili powder. Madras dishes are characterized for a spicy taste and a bold bright red color. For a taste of these traditional Indian flavors, whip up this Madras Inspired Spanish Rice with Lentils.

Despite your previous thoughts about curry, you are now more familiar with the true nature of this spice and all the nuances between the different “usages” this word has. Curry can either be the powdered spice, a thick bold seasoning or an authentic dish from India, Thailand or a variety of other Asian countries. One thing they all have in common is that they pair beautifully with rice. 

Trust Mahatma® Rice in your cooking journey and continue exploring new flavors and recipes from around the world and how spices can make for unique dishes. Which spice would you like to know about next? Share your thoughts by tagging @mahatmariceusa on Social Media!