Spice Showdown: Red Curry vs. Green Curry – Which Packs a Hotter Punch?

Which is hotter: Red or Green Curry?

If you’re a fan of Thai cuisine, you’ve probably come across the different types of curry. Among them, red curry and green curry are two of the most popular varieties made with different types of chilies. In this article, we will explore the question of which curry is hotter: red or green.

What is red curry?

Red curry, often referred to as Thai red curry, is prepared with a blend of hot red chilies and other aromatic ingredients that give it a distinct red color. It is a generic term used to describe all curry dishes made with red curry paste (kreung gaeng phet daeng), which is prepared using dried red spiny chilies, making red curry dishes very hot.
The ingredients used in red curry include kaffir lime leaves, garlic, galangal, shallots, cumin, coriander seeds and roots, lemongrass, and shrimp paste. A few drops of fish sauce may be added to the paste to enhance the flavor. Red curry is usually served with rice and often contains coconut milk in the sauce. It may also contain various proteins such as chicken, beef, pork, duck, shrimp, fish, or tofu.

Is red curry hot?

The heat of red curry can vary depending on how it is prepared. In general, red curries are considered very hot due to the significant amount of red chilies used in the curry paste. The flavor of red curry is complex, with the main flavor coming from the chiles. Traditional Thai cooks typically add about 20 red chilies to the curry paste to give it a vibrant red color and pack it with heat.
Modern cooks may choose to reduce the number of chilies used and replace them with chili powder or even add tomato sauce for a deeper red color and enhanced flavor. Still, red curry is known for its heat and bold flavors.

What is green curry?

Green curry, as the name suggests, gets its distinctive green color from a blend of green chilies and other aromatic ingredients. The basic ingredient for making green curry is green curry paste (kreung gaeng keo wahn).
Green curry is one of the most popular curries in Thai cuisine. It is made with fresh green chiles, garlic, galangal, shallots, lemongrass, coconut milk and fish sauce. Over the years, it has become more vibrant with the addition of fresh coriander, basil, and makrut lime leaf and peel. Green curry can be served with a variety of proteins such as white fish, chicken, shrimp, turkey, beef and tofu, as well as vegetables such as broccoli, snow peas, green peppers, cauliflower and baby corn.

Is green curry spicy?

Traditional green curry served in Thailand is known to be extremely hot, possibly even hotter than red curry. However, green curry served in some Western countries, such as the United States, tends to be milder, with little to no heat. It is also sweeter and has distinct flavors of coriander and lime leaf.
The level of heat in green curry can be adjusted by the way it is prepared and the choice of ingredients. When eating in a restaurant, it is possible to ask for the heat level to be adjusted to personal preference.

Red curry paste vs. green curry paste

Curry pastes are the basic ingredients for making any type of curry. The main difference between red curry paste and green curry paste is the type of pepper used. Red curry paste is made from red chilies, which are usually the hottest peppers, making it the hottest of the curry pastes. On the other hand, green curry paste is made from green chiles, which are not as hot as their red counterparts.

Difference between red and green curry

Red and green curry are two popular types of curry served in Thai cuisine. Both curries contain coconut milk, a variety of spices, and their respective curry pastes.
The main difference between red and green curry is the type and color of chilies used. Red curry uses dried red chilies or chili powder, while green curry uses fresh green chilies. The choice of chilies gives the curry and curry paste their unique color and flavor characteristics.
In terms of flavor, red curry is hotter, spicier, and full of bold flavors. It is often paired with proteins such as duck and tofu. Green curry, on the other hand, is milder, sweeter, and has a bright, pungent flavor. It pairs well with vegetables.
Both red and green curry can be served with rice, noodles, or various proteins such as chicken, beef, and pork. Seafood is also a popular combination for both curries.

Other Types of Thai CurriesIn addition to red and green curries, Thai cuisine offers a wide variety of other curries, each with its own unique flavors and characteristics. Some notable examples include

Yellow Curry

Yellow curry, also known as “gaeng kari”, is a milder curry compared to red and green curry. It gets its bright yellow color from turmeric, which is a key ingredient in the curry paste. Yellow curry typically contains ingredients such as shallots, garlic, lemongrass, coriander seeds, cumin, and Thai bird’s-eye chilies. It is often paired with chicken and potatoes and has a creamy texture due to the addition of coconut milk.

Massaman Curry

Massaman curry is a rich and aromatic curry with a mild heat. It is influenced by Indian and Persian flavors and is known for its unique combination of spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. Massaman curry often features tender chunks of beef or lamb, potatoes, onions, and roasted peanuts. It has a slightly sweet and savory flavor profile and is typically served with rice or roti.

Panang Curry

Panang curry, also known as “phanaeng curry,” is a creamy and slightly sweet curry with a bold flavor. It is made from a paste that includes ingredients such as dried red chilies, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, and shrimp paste. Panang curry is often cooked with beef, chicken, or pork and is characterized by the addition of kaffir lime leaves, which impart a citrusy aroma. It is usually served with steamed jasmine rice.

Conclusion

In summary, red curry is generally hotter than green curry. Red curry is made with hot red chilies, while green curry is made with milder green chilies. However, it’s important to note that the spiciness of both curries can vary depending on how they are prepared and the personal preferences of the chef or cook.
Red curry is known for its bold and spicy flavors, while green curry has a milder and sweeter flavor profile. Both curries can be enjoyed with a variety of proteins, vegetables, and rice or noodles. Thai cuisine offers a wide variety of curries, each with its own unique flavors and ingredients, allowing food lovers to explore and enjoy the wonderful world of Thai curries.

FAQS

Which curry, red or green, is hotter?

Red curry is generally hotter than green curry due to the use of hot red chilies in its preparation.

Can the heat of red and green curry be adjusted?

Yes, the heat of both curries can be adjusted to personal preference. Chefs can reduce or increase the amount of chilies or use milder varieties to control the heat level.

Are red and green curries the only types of curry in Thai cuisine?

No, Thai cuisine offers a wide variety of curry options, including yellow curry, Massaman curry, and Panang curry, each with its own unique flavors and characteristics.

What are some popular protein options to pair with red and green curry?

Red curry is often paired with proteins such as chicken, beef, pork, duck, shrimp, fish, or tofu. Green curry pairs well with proteins such as white fish, chicken, shrimp, turkey, beef, and tofu.

Are red and green curries always served with rice?

While rice is a common accompaniment, both red and green curry can be served with noodles or other starches, depending on personal preference.

Can vegetarians and vegans enjoy red and green curry?

Yes, both red and green curries can be made vegetarian or vegan by using plant-based proteins like tofu or substituting animal-based ingredients.