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question re: curry- Indian/Chinese

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Neither myself nor my wife are fond of curry. A local Chinese restaurant owner encouraged us to try his curry chicken. We liked it and asked him about the curry. He said Chinese curry is fifferent from Indian curry.
I have three questions:
Was the owner accurate in saying that Chinese curry is fifferent from Indian curry?
In what way is it different?
If there is a difference and I wanted to purchase some, what would I ask/look for at the grocery store(clueless about curry)?

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  1. "Curry" is not, technically, an actual ingredient. It's actually a blend of spices, as well as, at times, a preparation. So the Chinese one may have had a different curry blend from the Indian you have had, as well as a different sauce. Perhaps you didn't like an Indian curry with a tomato-based sauce, for example, but maybe you like a Chinese coconut-based sauce.

    I would go back to your Chinese restaurant and ask him some of the main ingredients in the sauce. For a curry blend, I recommend going to Penzey's. They have several different curry blends and you could probably find one that is right for you.

    3 Replies
    1. re: katecm

      I haven't seen a Chinese curry that is coconut based. I think that's more Southeast Asian.

      There are so many different types of Indian curries -- hard to generalize. The one difference I've noticed with Indian and Chinese curries is that the Chinese curries have soy sauce.

      1. re: Miss Needle

        True, but a lot of Chinese restaurants serve Southeast Asian curries. There's so much blending of cultures at a lot of Chinese restaurants nowadays. That's why it's probably best to just go ahead and ask him.

        1. re: katecm

          Pei Wei and PF Chang serve coconut curries, or rather "coconut ginger curry". Not at all like the soft yellow curry that I find in most family owned Chinese restaurants. That curry is really delicious and IMO is better than the coconut variety.

          I think what the OP is referring to is a beautiful, light yellow curry that is often called "Chicken with Curry Sauce" or "Curry Chicken" at most local Chinese restaurants. The Penzeys yellow curry blend, when used with a light hand, approximates this most. I would definitely ask if they can share their source with you, because they may be getting it from a restaurant supplier. I doubt that they are mixing up their own blend in the kitchen, although it is possible.

    2. Technically, curry just means sauce. There are many kinds of Indian curry to compare, let alone comparing one (which one?) to Chinese curry, eg. chicken korma is yogurt based but chicken masala doesn't, usually. Both are curries. I don't have Chinese curry often but when I have had them at Chinese restaurants, they tend to have less sauce and more spices directly on the food. I've only had Thai coconut curry and with that, you have all the various types of curry, like red, green, etc.

      You can purchase mixes of curry at stores. I don't use them often so can't help but I wouldn't go to a regular grocery store or you'll just get a generic curry. Try an asian store and just read the labels.

      1. Thanks for all the help everyone. I was apparently more ignorant of curry than I initially thought. Learned a lot.
        Spencer