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How Do I Choose the Best Curry Marinade?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated May 16, 2024
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The best curry marinade uses a large number of fresh vegetables pureed together with a mixture of curry powder and garam masala. It can be prepared in two stages that will be used to soak the meat and cook it separately. The flavors of the spices should combine with the fresh vegetables and sauteed meat in a sweet and spicy blend that is the trademark of Indian cooking.

The curry marinade should be assembled in two separate batches to achieve the maximum infusion of flavor into the food. The first portion of the marinade will be used to soak the meat overnight. This is often made using yogurt as a bland base for a foundation of curry spices, lemon juice, chopped hot chiles, and soy sauce. These ingredients can be very potent when mixed together, and should be placed together with the meat in a closed container overnight in the refrigerator. Chicken can marinate up to eight hours, while fish can marinate up to four hours.

The second curry marinade sauce will be used to both cook and serve the meat. Less powerfully aromatic ingredients may be used during this portion of the recipe as the rich flavors of the first marinade will have seeped deeply into the meat. The final blend of flavors between the two marinades is rich and unique, featuring hot undertones carried along by sweet and savory currents.

Ingredients used in the second curry marinade can include pineapple chunks, carrots, onions, red peppers, celery, coconut milk, and chicken broth. All food items may be blended together in a food processor until liquid in consistency. This second marinade is often higher in the number of ingredients used than the first to create a broader range of flavors, and cooks should feel free to improvise by including whatever fresh foods they may have on hand or may enjoy best in their curry. Using a large number of fresh vegetables during this step creates a fresh and zesty sauce that is bold in taste. The blending process allows the flavors to mix together and release into the liquid, without creating a chunky sauce that can often resemble soup instead of a marinade.

The spices used to flavor both types of curry marinade can be a mixture of traditional garam masala and curry powder. Garam masala is a blend of different spices often used in many types of Indian cooking. This spice can be purchased already blended in a specialty grocery store, or mixed together at home. It often includes a blend of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and bay leaves.

Once the meat is ready to be cooked, the first marinade may be discarded. The meat can be sauteed in the second marinade until cooked through, and served over hot white rice. Traditional side condiments used as toppings include coconut flakes, chopped nuts, and golden raisins.

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