Indian cuisine is known for its intense flavours and delicate spices, which means that we often steer clear from heavy drinks to avoid overpowering the palette. Due to the complex profile and array of spices included in every traditional dish, its important to choose your accompaniments wisely. While it may not, at first, seem intuitive to complement your favourite curry with wine, it is, in fact, one of the best drinks choices you could make. Here we run through the best wine pairing with Indian food.
The Ultimate Guide To Wine Pairing With Indian Food
When browsing through the vast selection of wines available, it is vital to consider the curry that you plan to make or order before making a decision. The heat of your chosen dish, along with whether you plan to accompany your curry with side dishes, will all help to determine which wine is best. To give you some inspiration on how to ensure that you always make the right choice, we have put together our four favourite pairings.
Rosé Paired With Red Curries
While it may sound a little vague to brand this paring as rosé with just “red curries”, its merely because there are just so many tomato-filled delights in the world of Indian cuisine. From the jalfrezi to the biryani, there are a plethora of tasty, tomato-inspired curries to choose from. While curries made with a rich tomato base are the most versatile in terms of tracking down perfect drinks pairings, we would most definitely confess that rosé is by far the best. Why? Because, traditionally, curries made with tomato tend to be filled with the most spice, which means that you need a wine with a sweeter profile. Those that have a dry, acidic taste will clash with spice making the chilli even more overpowering.
If you are hoping to experiment with the rosé and red curry pairing from the comfort of your home, then a chicken madras would be the most straightforward dish to cook from scratch. The ingredients you will need to create this delicious curry are:
- 4 chicken breasts cut into chunks
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 peeled and quartered onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 thumb-sized piece of peeled ginger
- 1/2 red chilli
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 – 2 teaspoons hot chilli powder
- 1 small pack of chopped coriander
First, grab a food processor and blitz together the onion, garlic cloves, ginger and red chilli until you have a smooth paste. Pour the vegetable oil into a large pan, add the smooth paste and fry together until soft – this should take around five minutes.
Once soft, add in the turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander and hot chilli powder (the amount of chilli powder will depend on how spicy you would like the curry to be). Stir until thoroughly combined and cook until lightly toasted.
Next, add your chicken and stir until all chunks are covered with a generous layer of your spice mix. Leave to cook until the chicken is pale in colour and then pour in the chopped tomatoes and add a pinch of salt. Cover your pan and leave the curry to cook for half an hour. Lastly, add the pack of chopped coriander and enjoy!
Sauvignon Blanc Paired With Saag Paneer
As one of the most popular vegetarian Indian dishes, it would only be fair to include the much-loved saag paneer to our list of tasty wine pairings. Although we must admit, due to the rich paneer cheese used as the forefront of the dish, it was a little trickier to pair a wine that wouldn’t take away from the delicious flavours. However, we’ve found your answer – sauvignon blanc! With an acidic yet savoury profile, the sauvignon blanc is ideal for cutting through the taste of the paneer cheese, allowing you to unleash a whole new flavour. And even better, as the nation’s favourite wine, there is a whole host of sauvignon blanc variations to choose from. For some inspiration on the best-reviewed bottles, take a look at The Independent.
For those who are now intrigued to try their hand at their own saag paneer, you can find a super easy-to-follow recipe below!
- tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
- 450g cubed paneer
- 500g fresh spinach
- 1 finely chopped large onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 1 chopped green chilli
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (follow this recipe on BBC Food Good to make your own spice mix)
- 1/2 lemon
To create your saag paneer, begin by melting the ghee then whisking in the turmeric and Kashmiri chilli powder. Add the cubed paneer and toss until the cheese is fully covered – set this to one side.
Next, put the fresh spinach into a colander and pour over boiling water. Once drained and cooled, use a tea towel to squeeze out any excess water. Take the spinach out of the colander and roughly chop – set to one side. Put the onion, garlic, ginger and green chilli into a food processor and blitz.
Now that all of your ingredients are prepared, you can begin to cook the paneer in a non-stick frying pan until golden. Take the paneer out of the pan and set to one side. In the same pan, add your onion mix and a pinch of salt, fry for around 10 minutes until golden. Add the garam masala and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Lastly, add the spinach to the pan, along with 100ml of water and cook for 3 minutes. Add your paneer and cook one last time for another 3 minutes. Squeeze over lemon juice and enjoy!
Pinot Noir Paired With Tandoori Chicken
Dating back as early as 3000 BC, tandoori chicken has become a household name when discussing the most mouth-watering Indian dishes. Marinated in a wealth of rich spices, alongside a refreshing yoghurt, tandoori chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor clay oven. To complement the smoky traits of tandoori chicken, you need to find a rich wine that can bring out the flavours of the marinade without feeling too heavy on the palette. Pinot noir remains the best pairing for tandoori chicken, thanks to the wines perfumed yet earthy scent and fruity flavour. The pinot noir variety is almost always a dry wine, making it the perfect accompaniment to savoury dishes as opposed to sweet. You can find more information on the taste of pinot noir on La Crema.
While the smoky taste of tandoori chicken originates from the traditional clay oven, there are now tonnes of recipes that instruct you on how to replicate the flavours using your oven at home. And luckily for you, we’re going to let you in on our favourite recipe! Tandoori chicken is one of the easiest Indian dishes to make, the ingredients you’ll need are:
- 900g chicken legs
- 250g Greek yoghurt
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 clove of crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
To make your marinade, grab a large bowl and add the Greek yoghurt, crushed garlic, lime juice, grated ginger, garam masala and turmeric. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a pinch of salt then whisk until thoroughly combined.
Add the chicken legs to the bowl and toss until it is completely covered with the marinade. Pop in the fridge and leave to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours.
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 200ºC and place a wire rack on top of a baking tray. Once the chicken legs have marinaded, put them on the wire rack and bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven, flip the chicken over and then bake for a further 20 minutes. Once cooked, grill the chicken until crispy and enjoy!
Sparkling Rosé Paired With Chicken Korma
If you’re less of a spice enthusiast, then its more than likely that a korma will be your ‘go-to’ Indian-inspired dish. Included in our menu options available as an Indian takeaway in Milton Keynes, is our very own version of the chicken korma. The Mughlai chicken korma incorporates the rich flavours of the Indo-Persian culture, using an aromatic coconut sauce as the base of the dish. As one of our chef’s recommendations, this dish also features the delicate spices of cassia bark and cardamom.
When delving into a chicken korma dish, a sparkling rosé should always be the drink of your choice. As a korma is the creamiest of curries, a wine with a tart fruitiness would be ideal. Unlike other dishes mentioned in our article, the korma always has little spice, which is why you can get away with a sparkling wine with a drier taste.
Traditional korma recipes always include an extensive list of different spices and ingredients; however, this shouldn’t put you off trialing cooking a korma from home. Korma paste can be picked up in almost all supermarkets, particularly Patak’s korma paste jar, which makes it super easy to make your own curry. Other ingredients that you will need are:
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 thumb-sized piece of chopped ginger
- 4 tablespoons korma paste
- 50g ground almonds
- 4 tablespoons sultanas
- 400ml chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon golden caster sugar
- 150g Greek yoghurt
- Handful of chopped coriander
To begin preparing your korma, whizz the chopped onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor until the ingredients have reached a paste. Put the paste in a frying pan, accompanied by 3 tablespoons of water and cook for five minutes. Add in the korma paste and then continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Cut the 4 chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, add to the frying pan and stir. Pour in the ground almonds, sultanas, golden caster sugar and chicken stock. Mix until thoroughly combined, cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
Once the chicken is cooked, take the frying pan off the heat and add the Greek yoghurt. Stir, sprinkle over the chopped coriander, and you’re ready to dig in!
The Perfect Match!
With our suggestions, you’ll now be a connoisseur in how to pair your favourite curry with a wine that will unleash an explosion of flavours. All of the wines that we have mentioned above are available on our drinks menu at our Indian restaurant in Milton Keynes to enjoy with the dishes of your choice. We invite you to visit our restaurant to experiment with the pairings included in our article!