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How Do I Thicken A Curry?

If you’re having a large group of friends over, then nothing can beat a one-pot curry dinner. Curry is not only super-easy to whip up but quite inexpensive too.

But in your rush to make your curry, what if the sauce becomes too watery? You don’t want to be serving your guests bland and watery curry.

But don’t panic! We have a few tricks under our sleeve that can fix your thin and runny curry in a jiffy. So, read on…

What Is Curry?

Typically, in many countries, any sauce-based South Asian dish is called a curry. But there is a wide variety of curries that you can find across South Asia in Indian, Thai, Japanese and other South Asian cuisines and not every saucy dish is curry.

Typically, India has a wide range of curries, specific to different regions of the country. Some curries may be rich in coconut and curry leaves, while other varieties may be full of spices

Different Indian-style curries include korma, tikka masala, vindaloo, etc., which have different curry sauce bases and spice blends.

On the other hand, Thai curries such as red, green and yellow, Malaysian, Indonesian and Filipino curries use ingredients such as galangal, kaffir lime, fish sauce and shrimp paste liberally that are not typically used in Indian curries.

So, irrespective of the type of curry, the basic principle of making the curry is the same. It should not be so watery that it runs and spreads across the plate or so thick that it forms a glutinous mass.

And, whether you will be serving the curry with naan bread or rice, the consistency of the curry should be just right.

Reasons Why Your Curry Sauce May Be Watery

The curry sauce generally is quite thick and some of the reasons why your curry may be thin and watery include:

  • Adding still frozen ingredients to the curry when cooking causes them to thaw and the extra water can make the curry watery.
  • For a curry to reach the proper consistency, the excess liquid must be cooked off. Cooking the curry at very low heat will not allow the water to evaporate, making the sauce very watery.
  • Typically, as the curry sauce simmers, it will thicken. If you turn off the heat as soon as the curry sauce comes to a boil, it will result in a thin and watery sauce.

Ways To Thicken A Curry

1. Use Cornstarch Or Flour

A good way to thicken the curry sauce is by adding cornstarch or regular flour. For every cup of liquid in the curry sauce, add one tablespoon of cornstarch or flour to some water and make a slurry.

Add the slurry into the sauce while stirring continuously. If you want a gluten-free option, you can use rice, coconut or arrowroot flour.

If you’re adding flour to thicken the curry, then do it right at the end of the cooking process. Because, when you add the flour, this can cause the sauce to thicken very quickly and if you overcook it, then it can stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

2. Simmer The Curry

The easiest way to thicken a curry is to allow the sauce to simmer for a long time, around 15-30 minutes, so that the liquid reduces.

When simmering the gravy, ensure that you keep the heat low so that the ingredients don’t overcook, the sauce doesn’t get over-dried or the bottom of the curry doesn’t get burned.

Also, simmering the curry without covering the pot allows the water to evaporate better, resulting in a thicker curry sauce while maintaining the right flavours and texture.

3. Add Coconut

You can add some coconut milk, grated coconut or coconut cream to your curry sauce. This not only helps to thicken the sauce but also adds a lovely mildly sweet, coconutty taste and aroma to your dish while making the texture smooth and creamy.

Coconut works well, especially for Thai or Indian-style curries.

4. Add Plain Yoghurt

You can add thick Greek yoghurt to the curry sauce to thicken it. The yoghurt not only adds a nice tang to the sauce but makes your curry rich and creamy.

Add a tablespoonful of yoghurt at a time and stir the sauce continuously until it is blended in properly. Lower the heat while adding the yoghurt to reduce the risk of curdling.

Keep adding the yoghurt until your curry sauce reaches the desired consistency.

5. Add Some Nuts

Grinding up some raw, unsalted cashews, peanuts or almonds and adding them to the curry sauce can help to thicken it.

Adding these nuts will not only absorb the extra liquid from the sauce and help to thicken it, but also adds a rich and creamy texture to the curry.

You can also add 1-2 tablespoonfuls of creamy peanut butter to thicken the curry sauce. But take care to add it only right at the end of the cooking process.

6. Add Lentils

Lentils are often used in Indian curries. They are not only a great source of protein, especially for vegetarians but also help to thicken the curry and add bulk to it.

When added to the curry, as the lentils cook, they swell up, soften and break down, soaking up the liquid in the curry and thickening it. You can also puree beans, chickpeas and other legumes into a smooth paste and add it to curry sauce to thicken it.

7. Add Tomato Puree Or Paste

Adding some tomato puree or tomato paste to a tomato-based curry sauce can help to thicken it and make it denser without altering its taste.

Generally, tomato puree is thicker compared to tomato paste and also has a stronger flavour. Add a little tomato puree or paste at a time to the curry sauce until it reaches the consistency you desire.

Also, add the tomato puree or paste right at the start of the cooking process so that it combines well with the other ingredients. Alternatively, you can add finely chopped tomatoes to thicken the curry sauce.

8. Make A Roux

Used commonly by French chefs as a thickener to thicken sauces, gravies, soups and stews, roux is a mixture of fat such as lard, butter or bacon drippings and flour.

You can use flour such as rice flour, wheat flour or coconut flour and vegetable oil, ghee, coconut oil or olive oil, but fats, which solidify at room temperature, work best to make a roux.

For every cup of liquid in the curry use two tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of fat. Cook the fat and flour until the flour is blended smoothly and the raw taste of the flour disappears.

Add the roux to the curry sauce, which will thicken once it comes to a boil. A roux not only helps to thicken your curry sauce but also gives it a creamier texture.

9. Add Potatoes

Adding mashed potatoes can help to thicken your curry sauce and also add bulk to it.

The potatoes can also help to reduce the spices if your curry is too spicy and if you’ve added a lot of salt to your curry, then adding mashed potatoes can help to reduce the salt levels in your dish too.

You can also roast some eggplants, peel them, blitz them and add them to your curry sauce. This will help to make your curry sauce smoother, creamier and thicker.

How Do I Thicken A Curry? Wrapping Up

In conclusion, when making curry, you can easily end up with a sauce that is too watery and runny. But there’s no reason to worry.

You can simply use one of the techniques we have discussed in our article and tweak the consistency according to your preference and make a superb lip-smacking curry every time.

Chef Matty
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