When it comes to Indian cuisine, there are two terms that you’re bound to come across sooner or later: Curry and Masala.
But what do they mean?
And what’s the difference between them?
While they may be similar in terms of spices and flavors, some key differences actually set them apart.
Garam Masala refers to the mixture of spices used to make the curry, while curry refers to the actual dish made with those spices.
Let’s take a closer look at curry and Masala.
We’ll examine the key distinctions between curry and Masala in this blog post so you may confidently place an order the next time you visit your favorite Indian eatery.
What is Curry?
Many people believe that curry is a spice, but it is not.
It’s an Indian dish. It describes a wide range of dishes from the Indian subcontinent.
The word “curry” is thought to be derived from the Tamil word “Kari,” which means “sauce.”
Curries can be made with either dry spices or fresh herbs and can be used to flavor meat and vegetables.
Curry sauce is usually served with rice or bread and can be made with meat, vegetables, or legumes.
They often incorporate a variety of spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili pepper.
These spices are cooked in a liquid, such as chicken broth or coconut milk until they form a thick paste.
That paste is then used to flavor the dish.
Curry can also be made with fresh ginger, garlic, onion, and wet or dry gravy.
At its most basic, Indian curry is an Indian spice blend of spices used to flavor a dish.
The same herbs used in a curry dish will vary depending on the region where it originates from, but it is typically milder.
For example, curry dishes from southern India tend to be spicier than those from northern India.
What is Masala?
Masala is also a dish that hails from India.
It is similar to curry in that it includes a variety of spices.
The word “masala” comes from the Sanskrit word “masa,” which means “pepper.”
There are endless variations of Masala, but most recipes include cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, and black pepper.
Some masalas contain dried chilies, fenugreek seeds, mace, nutmeg, red chili powder, tamarind pulp, and turmeric powder.
The spices are combined with a liquid-usually water-to form a paste.
As with curry, the exact ingredients used in a garam masala mix will vary depending on the region where it originates.
Masala sauce is also a blend of spices but contains dry and wet ingredients.
In addition to spices, Masala typically contains ginger, garlic, onion, and tomatoes.
This combination of ingredients produces a paste with a richer flavor than curry.
Like curry, Masala can also be made with chicken pieces, beef, lamb, or vegetables.
And like curry, it is usually served with rice or bread.
What are the differences between Curry and Masala
Regarding Indian cuisine, two dishes often get lumped together: Curry and Masala.
Although they are equally excellent, some significant distinctions between the two make them distinct.
Curry is made with a blend of spices, such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander.
At the same time, Masala is a mix that often includes curry powder but may also have other spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper.
However, the use of these ingredients can vary greatly depending on regional and personal preferences.
In Indian cuisine, curry leaves and curry powder are often used to enhance flavor, but they are not essential components of a curry dish.
Masala, on the other hand, is more likely to be added at the end of cooking as a finishing touch.
It is important to note that neither curry nor Masala necessarily contains chili peppers, despite their association with spicy flavors.
2. Preparation method
Preparation methods also vary for curry and masala dishes.
Curry is often simmered or stewed for a more extended period to allow the flavors to blend, while Masala may be quickly stir-fried or added as a finishing touch.
Ultimately, Curry and Masala can add rich flavor to a dish, but the same spices and methods of use may differ.
Experimenting with different blends and techniques can create a flavorful and unique culinary experience.
In terms of texture, curry often has a thicker consistency due to the simmering and stewing process.
Masala may have a lighter texture when used as a finishing touch.
Curry and masala dishes can have a range of flavors, from mild to spicy.
Curry dishes can vary significantly in taste, depending on the ingredients used to make them.
Generally speaking, they tend to be quite flavorful and aromatic.
Some people like the taste of curry to be a combination of sweet, sour, and savory flavors.
The taste also depends on whether the dish is made with wet or dry gravy.
While Masala often has a slightly more complex flavor profile, with the various spices coming together to create a harmonious blend.
It can also have heat from chili peppers, depending on the specific masala blend used.
Curry tends to have a yellow or orange color, thanks to the turmeric in curry powder.
Masala can also vary in color, depending on the spices used and how it is prepared.
It may range from reddish-brown to deep brown.
Both curry and Masala can add vibrant color to dishes, making them visually appealing and tasty.
Curry and Masala can be used in various dishes, including meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and rice.
They are often used as marinades or added during cooking to enhance flavor.
Some popular dishes include chicken curry, beef, curry shrimp, and curry vegetables.
Masala can be used in dishes such as chicken tikka masala, masala fish, and masala tofu.
Curry vs Masala: Are they the same?
In conclusion, curry is a type of dish that originates from the Indian subcontinent.
It’s usually made with a mixture of spices and can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
Masala refers to the mixture of spices used to make curry, while curry refers to the actual dish.
Masala contains fresh tomatoes and dry or wet coconut, giving it a sweeter taste than curry.
Additionally, the spice level in curry is typically milder than in Masala.
The main difference between Curry and Masala is that curry is a dish while Masala is a spice mixture.
Curry can be made with or without Masala; it depends on the recipe.
However, most curries contain Masala because it adds flavor and depth to the dish.
So if you see a recipe for curry that doesn’t call for Masala, you can usually add it without issue.
And if you have leftover masala paste after making curry, you can use it to flavor other dishes like rice or soup.
Curry and Masala are excellent choices if you’re seeking a fresh way to flavor your food or are in the mood for something hot.
By distinguishing between these two concepts, you can experiment with flavors and make meals that satisfy your palate.