How To Make Curry Less Spicy

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Curry can be fun to make at home, but some versions can be especially spicy. If you are working with a spicy curry powder, you won’t be able to increase the other flavors without also increasing the heat. All that said, you can tone down a curry that you find too hot. Here are some of the best solutions.

how to make curry less spicy
Dilution and dairy are two common ways to lessen the spiciness of curry, but there are more.

Table of Contents

Dilute

Dilution is effective for counteracting the overuse of many flavorful ingredients, including spicy chilies in curry. The trick is to dilute the one strong flavor without also diluting the flavors that aren’t too strong. The easiest way to dilute a hot curry is to add more of everything else except for the peppers. This is relatively straightforward if the source of the spice is added chilies and not curry powder.

You can even try cutting the dish in half and then building it back up to a full recipe to limit wasted ingredients. If the curry powder is the source of the heat, you won’t be able to dilute the heat alone, so you may need to try one of the other solutions below.

Add coconut milk

A traditional ingredient for many South Indian curries, coconut milk can also help to tame an out-of-control spice level. It works by diluting the pepper while adding a creamy, nutty flavor that pairs well with almost all of the different spices that can show up in a traditional curry.

Add dairy product

Arguably, the most effective way to counteract excessive heat from chili peppers is with dairy products. The reason milk is a popular remedy to relieve the burn from peppers is that it contains a protein called casein. Casein helps the milk wash away capsaicin — the source of the heat — by binding to it and dislodging it from nerve receptors. It can perform a similar role in curries, where it protects your nerve receptors from capsaicin.

The dairy products that will pair best with curry include yogurt, which can add both creaminess and a tang to enhance the curry. Yogurt is also commonly served with curries in the form of raita, which is a yogurt and cucumber sauce that works as a cooling condiment. Other solid options include sour cream, which can perform the same role as yogurt.

You can also use regular heavy cream, though it won’t provide the same kind of tangy quality. The big drawback of ingredients like sour cream and cream is that they can thicken your curry, which may not always be what you want.

Add potatoes

Potatoes are good for fixing flavor excesses in savory dishes, and you can use them to lessen the spice in curry. Add cubed potatoes to the dish and let them cook until soft, then remove them from the curry before serving it.

Add a sweetener

Depending on the curry, a sweetener like sugar or honey may work to balance the heat. The sweetener may not counteract the capsaicin, but it might dilute and distract from the flavor. Sweet flavors won’t work for every kind of curry, and you will need to be careful to avoid making the dish too sweet.

Add an acid

Lemons, vinegar, and tomatoes are all acidic and are appropriate for certain curries. Adding tartness to a curry may complement the flavors while counteracting peppers that are making it too hot.

Add chutney

Chutney is a traditional condiment for curry that can provide both sweetness and acidity to help make an overly hot curry dish milder. Tomato and green mango chutneys are both options for calming the flames.


UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 20, 2022 to include new content.
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