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Nov 6, 2011 08:07 PM

Curry Sauce is Breaking...Why?

I've recently starting making Indian curries with Patak's curry paste. Loving the flavor, but with the last two I've made, the sauce has started breaking. There are bubbles, and it looks like it's separating. I'm not sure why? The recipe has a can of coconut milk in it - I'm assuming it's a reaction with that? Anyone have any ideas? It still tastes very good, but kind of icky to look at-


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  1. Did you shake the can well before using it ?? If yes, then maybe it's a disproportionate amount of coconut milk you're using. You can probably tie that sauce back up with a tiny bit of oil or ghee. Give that a try before cutting back on the amount of coconut milk. Have you cooked the sauce down enough ?? Try reducing it some more also.

    1. Many dishes served in Indian restaurants here in the UK have sauces which appear split, with little pools of oil on the surface. This is not considered a fault, more a reflection of the fairly high quantities of ghee used in the cooking. However, I agree that it looks unattractive and spooning some off must surely reduce fat intake.

      Standard coconut milk is very high in fat and, again, splitting is quite normal and accepted. The longer curries containing coconut milk are cooked, the more they split, I find.

      Removing some oil does noticeably pull back the flavour though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robin Joy

        Your suggestion is similar to Thai curry where the oil gathering on top is not a sign of breakage, but of a done/correct curry. However, I do not know enough about Indian curry to know if it is exactly the same idea or not.

        My only other suggestion would be that perhaps your heat is too high and a low to medium heat might help the separation. Hopefully someone with more knowledge can chime in as I'm interested to know the answer.

      2. Curry sauces aren't emulsified like French sauces are. Many Indian recipes will tell you to cook sauces until the fat separates out as a sign of doneness.

        1. It's normal in Indian, Thai, Malay, Indonesian etc curries. Mostly you cook or reduce till the sauce breaks.
          I've been told never to boil coconut milk with a lid on, but am not 100% sure why that is

          1. Some tips I have seen on the Internet:

            1) Shake well before using coconut milk.

            2) Bring the coconut milk to room temperature.

            3) Add small quantities while stirring well and on low heat

            4) This applies to yogurt also.