This is probably one of the hardest food matches with wine. Curry can so easily overwhelm or clash with a wine. Often I’ve plumped for lager, which is thirst quenching, cooling and cuts through the heavy spicing and sauces of curries.
The other classic option is to go for a white wine but be aware that certain white wines just curl up and die when confronted with the big flavours of Indian cooking.
Years ago I spent a few months in India; it was the longest time I ever went without drinking. Eventually, positively keening for some booze, I bought a local Indian wine. It was undrinkable, tasting like a particularly rough sweet sherry with an aftertaste of manure.
Things have changed, however. Now the Indian wine industry is improving rapidly, I’ve heard wine experts claim that by 2050, India will be producing top notch wines to rival European ones. John Valentine, who owns Winetrust100.co.uk is about to list an Indian wine, so watch out for that.
This month I’m going to suggest a few wines from the Winetrust100 site to match with curry and I’m also going to give you the most amazing Goan fish curry recipe. I made this dish last night for a few friends and we ploughed through several wines (dirty job but someone’s gotta do it) to see what went with what.
Goa is a former Portuguese colony in India and, coincidentally, one of the best matches was a Portuguese vinho verde, sharp enough to cut through the coconut and ghee, bold enough to stand up to the chillis. 2013 Soalheiro Alvarinho, Portugal, £15, 12.5% .
We also enjoyed a Pinot Grigio with the food. Now normally this is a light summery lunch time wine with, say, a subtle fish dish but this high quality Pinot Grigio stood up well to this fish curry. 2013 Pinot Grigio, Ponte Del Diavolo, Italy, £9, 12.5% .
Other white wines that go well with curry include Gewürztraminer, Rieslings and Viogniers. Try this gorgeous Gewürztraminer by Paul Cluver (one of my favourite wines on the site) 2013, £12, 12.5%; or slightly more expensive at £17 this 2012 Gewuztraminer, Rolly Gassman, Alsace, France, a little more alcoholic at 13%.
With a mild curry, say a korma, you could try Master of Wine Nick Adams’s pick, 2012 Mara Martin Godello, Spain, £10, 13%
For a prawn or chicken curry, you might try a fruity honeyed but full-bodied Viognier such as 2012 Viognier, Tabali from Chile, £12 13.5%
For a really spicy curry, I recommend the 2010 Sybille Kuntz Easte Riesling, Germany £15, 11.5%. It’s light enough to be thirst quenching but also dry enough to cut through the ghee and coconut milk of a Southern Indian curry.
And yes, red and rosé wine is not out of the question either. For a meat curry, aubergine curry or say a bombay aloo, the 2012 Adobe Carmenere £8, 14% has a natural spice which would be very complementary.
Equally, the 2011 Seghesio Zinfandel, £18, 15% from California is sturdy enough to match tomatoey hot curries.
Have a go at this Goan fish curry recipe, adapted from Camellia Panjabi’s 50 Great Curries.
I served it with cucumber raitha and Bombay aloo.
Serves 4 – 6
800g of cod or haddock, skinned and boned.
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 to 8 red chillis, deseeded
1 large onion, peeled and chopped roughly
Flesh of one small fresh coconut (you can peel off the brown flesh or not bother)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp turmeric
3 cms of fresh peeled ginger
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of tamarind extract
1 tbsp of Maldon sea salt
2 tbsps of ghee or clarified butter
Half a 200g sachet of creamed coconut
500ml boiling water
2 fresh tomatoes, grated
2 green chillis, thinly sliced
First of all ‘cook’ the fish, ceviche style, by squeezing over the lime, turmeric powder and salt. Leave for 15 to 20 minutes then drain off the liquid.
In a high-speed blender, food processor or Vitamix, process the chillis, onion, fresh coconut, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, tamarind. Process until smooth.
Put a large cast iron or good quality large frying pan on a medium heat and add the ghee.
In the meantime boil a kettle and pour it around the unopened packet of coconut to melt it. Once it is melted, then cut open the top.
Pour the contents of the food processor into the frying pan then add half the coconut to it. Cook this down for a few minutes then stir in the boiling water. Grate in the tomato. Turn down the heat and simmer the sauce for ten minutes.
Then carefully add the fish to the pan, trying not to break it up and spoon the sauce on top of the fish too. Cook on low for seven minutes then serve, garnished with fresh coriander and a few slices of green chilli.
So what do you drink with curry? White, red or beer? Let us know below in the comments.