You’ve spent what feels like hours toasting and grinding spices (and lots of them!) and making pastes only to find that your curry doesn’t really taste of much. So, why is it that your curry has a bland taste?
There are, unfortunately, many reasons why your curry can taste bland. It could be old spices that haven’t been toasted. It could be a lack of spices. It could be that the flavours haven’t been given time to develop.
How to Make a Flavoursome Curry
If you want to make amends and are looking to start afresh then before you make your next curry, make sure you follow these tips:
- Start with Plenty of Aromatics – The base of any curry will include onions and garlic in some form alongside chillies, ginger and galangal. Don’t hold back on these initial aromatics, as they will give your curry their flavoursome base.
- Give Everything Time – You’ll often come across a westernised curry recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes. This is impossible! In fact, onions need to be cooked low and slow for 15 to 20 minutes until they brown, soften and begin to release their natural sugars.
- Avoid Premixed Powders – Premixed curry powders might be a time-saver (and often a money saver), but they’re often bland and limits you to making the same curry over and over again. Instead, opt for buying individual spices which you can mix as you see fit.
- Stop Adding Water – You might think your curry looks too thick but adding water will only dilute the flavour. You might need to loosen the sauce a little but only add a splash of water at a time. Once it’s in, you can’t take it back out!
- Use Whole Spices – Although more convenient, ground spices will begin to lose their flavour far quicker over time. Instead, opt for whole spices which you can freshly grind as and when you need them. You can instantly tell the difference between the smell of preground and freshly ground spices.
- Go Easy on the Chilli – This might seem counterintuitive but, all too often, people add too much chilli thinking this will make their curry taste authentic. Instead, you’re left with a one-dimensional curry that tastes of chilli and only chilli.
- Taste, Taste and Taste – You’re never going to know how good your curry tastes unless you taste it regularly while you cook. As each stage progresses, give it a quick taste and adjust accordingly.
- Toast Your Spices First – Before you grind any spices, toast them in a dry pan for 5 minutes or so until your kitchen air is filled with the fragrant smell of cumin, coriander, cardamom and any other spices.
How to Fix a Cooked Bland Curry
If you’ve already made a bland curry and want to try and fix it without having to start again, then all is not completely lost and you can save it with a bit of work:
- Add Condiments – There are several condiments you can stir through a curry to hide the fact that it was once bland. Try mixing through mango chutney, kasundi, chilli oil or lime pickle.
- Stir Through Fresh Herbs – A handful of chopped coriander stirred through a curry can instantly add another flavour to it which can make it passable. It won’t have the depth of toasted spices and sweet onions but it can make it edible, at least.
- Season It – You’ll be surprised how a good pinch of salt can instantly elevate a bland curry. If it doesn’t taste of anything then see a good seasoning can help salvage it.
- Add Acidity – A quick squeeze of lime juice can be one of the fastest ways to rectify a bland curry. The other option is a small spoonful of tamarind paste if you have it.
- Leave it for 24 Hours – This is far from the quickest fix, of course, but it’s also a viable option. You know how stews and casseroles taste better the next day. Well the same can be said for curry. Leave it in the fridge overnight, reheat it the next day and you may just be surprised.
Add These Spices to Curries
The 7 best spices to add to any curry are cumin, clove, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, and cinnamon. Others are more common in western supermarkets, such as generic curry powder or garam marsala. Where possible, use whole spices, which you then toast in a dry pan.
Bland Curry FAQs
If you’ve still got a few questions about bland curries and how to fix them then here are a handful of common FAQs:
There are a number of brands of curry paste across the globe that have a decent flavour. Pataks, Mae Anong, Mae Ploy, and Maesri are all fairly reputable. Ultimately, however, homemade curry paste will always taste better.
If you don’t use authentic ingredients in your Thai curry then it will never taste as good as it could. Kaffir lime leaves, fresh lemongrass, Thai basil, galangal and palm sugar are all essentials for a decent, tasty Thai curry.
Curries are more than just chilli heat. If you add a handful of chilli powder to your curry, all you will do is make it instantly spicy. It won’t add any depth of flavour and it will not hide the blandness.
Lewis is the founder and editor of Let’s Foodie alongside other food-related platforms including FreezeIt and SubstituteIt. He launched Let’s Foodie to provide aspiring cooks with one place to get the answers to some of the most commonly asked cooking questions.