Heading out to your favorite Indian restaurant?
Before you do, make sure you don’t get confused about the seemingly endless list of curry dishes on the menu.
Every cuisine that loves spices have their own curry variation. Get to know the most well-loved curry dishes here.
What is Curry?
The term “curry” comes from the Tamil word kari, which means “sauce.”
With turmeric as the prime ingredient, curry also incorporates other spices, such as cumin, coriander, chilies, white or black pepper, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, and coconut cream or coconut milk.
The general term for mixed spices used in Indian cuisine is garam masala.
Curry dishes may contain meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, vegetables, or any combination thereof.
You can have either dry or wet curry sauces.
If you see a dish with very little curry sauce, this means the meat absorbed the flavor of the liquid curry until it dried out.
Wet curries, on the other hand, look more like a thick soup.
How many types of curry are there?
With all the culinary innovations worldwide, there is no saying how many types of curry exist in the world now.
You can mix up a bunch of your spices, and you can still end up creating an all-new type of curry.
The Indian subcontinent, which includes Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, has so many curry dishes.
In fact, it is sometimes easy to mistake one type of Indian curry for another.
After the introduction of Indian curry to different countries around the world, countries like Japan and the UK have cooked up their own versions.
However, in Southeast Asian countries, locals cook coconut milk with spice pastes to make their curry version, like in Thai curries.
Different Types of Curry
Let’s dive into the details of different types of curry around the world.
Phal, or phall, is a type of curry from the UK.
It originated from the curry houses owned by Bangladeshi restaurateurs in Birmingham.
Phal is one of the hottest types of tomato-based thick, red curry that includes fennel seeds and ginger.
Originating from the Southern Indian city of Madras, this type of curry is another red, hot dish that heavily uses chili powder.
To reduce or remove much of the heat from Madras curry, you will have to complement it with some yogurt.
Jalfrezi is a curry dish containing stir-fried meat or fish with vegetables.
It is cooked in a thick spicy sauce that uses green chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers.
Although it comes from the Bengal region, it is also popular beyond the Indian subcontinent.
Biryani is curry-infused rice invented by the Muslims of India.
It has also become a famous dish in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia.
Made with different meat, vegetable, and rice combinations, Biryani stands a complete meal.
Coming from a combination of Gujarati and Persian influence, dhansak is a popular Indian food invented by the Parsi Zoroastrian community.
It usually contains lamb or goat meat with some vegetables cooked into a mushy sauce.
Dhansak is another complete dish served with rice cooked in spices and caramelized onions.
Bhoona or Bhuna
Bhoona is a type of dry curry that contains meat fried with spices at a high temperature.
Considered as medium-hot, it appeals to anyone who wants a little less spice on their curry.
Bhoona also originates from Bengal.
Pasanda is a curry dish popularized from India and Pakistan and derived from a Mughal court meal.
The term “pasanda” stems from the word pasande, meaning “favorite,” and pertains to premium meat cuts.
People prepare pasanda by marinating the meat in yogurt, chili powder, and several other spices.
If you are looking for a meatball or meatloaf version of the curry, kofta is what you want.
Kofta uses different meats, vegetables, or sometimes a combination of both.
You can find different versions of kofta from Albania and Greece all the way to Bangladesh.
Korma is any thick-sauced curry that has been braised in yogurt, cream, soup stock, and spices.
Another dish of Mughal origin, korma is an Urdu verb that means “to braise.”
The key ingredient for any dopiaza dish is a lot of onions.
Although it has the same variations of meats and vegetables, dopiaza is cooked by adding onions at different stages during the cooking process.
Although you can prepare many dishes in it, karahi is a circular cooking pot shaped like a wok.
It is used to prepare dishes in the Indian subcontinent.
Many dishes such as curry chicken and tikka karahi are types of curry dishes prepared using the karahi.
Like the karahi, the balti also refers to a cookpot or any curry dish prepared with it.
“Balti” directly translates to “bucket,” but it is more like a thin metal wok.
You can step up a korma by adding more ingredients to make nentara.
Nentara curry contains mushrooms, capsicums, Indian ferns, onions, and fresh cream.
Any meat or vegetable marinated in curry and then grilled or roasted into a barbecue is called tikka.
You can use any curry mixture to marinate chicken, beef, lamb, goat, or pork before roasting or grilling.
Spicy and fiery vindaloo is usually a pork curry dish, although you can make it using other meat types.
Vindaloo comes from a Portuguese dish popularized in Goa, Vasai, Konkan, and Kerala.
A tandoor is a cylindrical clay or metal oven used for cooking or baking.
Tandoori refers to curry-based dishes predominantly cooked using the tandoor.
Since the tandoor is an oven, tandoori is usually roasted, grilled, or baked.
Jaipuri is another Indian curry that uses ginger garlic pastes as an added ingredient to garam masala.
It is a Rajasthani dish with medium spiciness, but you can alter it by adding or reducing chili powder.
Masala is the general term for any combination of spices used to make a curry dish.
Any menu indicating that a meal is a masala means it is a type of curry.
Sometimes spelled dal or dahl, dhal is a general term for dried and split pulses that do not require pre-soaking.
Pulses include lentils, peas, and beans.
India is the largest producer of pulses in the world.
Any curry dish with the term “dhal” in its name means it has been slow cooked with some pulses in the sauce.
Pathia is a British curry originating from ancient Persian influence.
Also called the hot, sweet, and sour curry, pathia uses tamarind, lime, and jaggery as its ingredients.
Rogan Josh is a red meat curry originally coming from Persia or Kashmir.
Its color and flavor come from alkanet flowers and roots and Kashmiri chilies.
Green Thai curry is a mix of green chilies, lemongrass, shallots, shrimp paste, kaffir lime, coriander root, and other ingredients cooked in coconut milk.
Its name suggests it has a lovely appetizing green hue.
Dried red chilies, cilantro root, cumin, galangal, and turmeric make up the red hue of red Thai curry in addition to other ingredients.
It is usually the hottest form of Thai curry.
Yellow Thai curry is milder and sweeter than red Thai curry.
You can make yellow curry paste by combining turmeric, curry powder, and other native Thai ingredients.
What is the most popular curry?
The US has at least 18 million Asian-American residents, causing a surge in local curry dishes.
The most popular curries available in the US are vindaloo, masala, korma, and jalfrezi.
Curry is one of the most famous non-American ethnic foods in the US.
With so many variations worldwide, it is fairly easy to mistake one curry dish for another, especially when you don’t know its exact ingredients.
You can find different curry dishes that use various names, such as chicken tikka masala.
Curry chicken is a vague name for a dish, as you can find chicken in many types of curry dishes.
It is easier to distinguish the dry types of curry from the wet ones.