Korma vs Vindaloo: What’s the Difference?

Written By Ollie Cartwright


Korma and Vindaloo, two iconic dishes from the Indian subcontinent, are two of the most popular takeaway options. This comparison will explore the differences and similarities between Korma and Vindaloo, offering insight into their unique culinary identities.

Korma is a creamy, mildly spiced dish characterised by its use of yoghurt or cream. In contrast, Vindaloo is known for its fiery spiciness and tangy vinegar flavour, reflecting the culinary traditions of Goa.

What is Korma?

Korma is a classic dish in Indian cuisine, known for its rich, creamy texture and mild flavour profile. It typically consists of meat or vegetables braised with yoghurt, cream, or coconut milk and a blend of aromatic spices like coriander, cumin, and garam masala.

The dish has roots in Mughlai cuisine and is characterized by its delicate balance of flavours and smooth, velvety sauce.

Korma often includes nuts and dried fruits, contributing to its luxurious taste. The spice level in Korma is generally low, making it a popular choice for those who prefer milder Indian dishes.

Is Korma the Mildest Curry at a Takeaway?

Yes, Korma is usually the mildest curry at a takeaway, especially in the UK. It’s known for its creamy, rich sauce made with yoghurt, cream, and ground nuts, offering a gentle, subtly spiced flavour. Korma is a great choice for those who prefer less heat in their curry.

What is Vindaloo?

Vindaloo is a spicy Indian curry that originated in Goa, a state with Portuguese colonial influence. The dish is a fusion of Portuguese and Indian culinary traditions, based initially on a dish known as “Carne de Vinha d’Alhos,” which translates to “meat in garlic wine marinade.”

Vindaloo is known for its bold, fiery flavour, achieved through hot chilli peppers and vinegar.

It often includes pork, although chicken, beef, or lamb variations are also common. There’s a misconception that Indians do not use pork in their cooking. It is not common in India but it is found regularly in the state of Goa.

The dish contains spices like turmeric, cumin, and mustard seeds, contributing to its intense heat and complex flavour profile.

Is Vindaloo the Spiciest Curry at a Takeaway?

Vindaloo is often one of the spiciest curries offered at takeaway restaurants, especially in the UK. It’s a Goan dish known for its fiery heat, typically from the liberal use of chilli peppers. However, some places might offer even spicier curries like Phall, which is notoriously hotter than Vindaloo.

Similarities Between Korma and Vindaloo

Besides the fact these two dishes are forms of curry, here are a few other ways they are actually similar:

  • Base Ingredients: Both dishes often use meat (such as chicken, lamb, or beef) as the primary ingredient.
  • Use of Spices: Each dish employs a complex blend of spices, showcasing the rich diversity of Indian spice blends.
  • Culinary Tradition: Both Korma and Vindaloo are integral to Indian cuisine and reflect the historical and cultural influences of their respective regions.
  • Global Popularity: Both dishes have gained international popularity, often featured in Indian restaurants worldwide, and have adapted versions to suit varying palates.

Differences Between Korma and Vindaloo

Of course, although they do share some similarities, there is plenty that separates these two common curries:

  • Flavour Profile: Korma is milder and characterized by a creamy, nutty, and subtly spiced flavour, while Vindaloo is notably hotter and tangier, with a pronounced vinegar taste.
  • Ingredients: Korma typically uses yoghurt, cream, or coconut milk, along with nuts and dried fruits, whereas Vindaloo is made with vinegar and a higher proportion of hot spices.
  • Spice Level: Korma is known for its mildness, making it suitable for those with a lower spice tolerance, while Vindaloo is one of the spiciest Indian dishes.
  • Regional Origin: Korma has its roots in Mughlai cuisine from Northern India, whereas Vindaloo originates from Goa in Western India, with Portuguese influences.
  • Texture: Korma has a creamy, smooth sauce, while Vindaloo’s sauce is typically thinner and more piquant.

Korma vs Vindaloo: Which Wins?

If you were to head into your local Indian takeaway tonight, which of these would you be ordering if you had to pick?

Do You Prefer Korma or Vindaloo?

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