Do you enjoy a thick, rich curry sauce as much as I do? If you got your quantities wrong and you ended up with a watery curry, don’t stress! Fortunately, this isn’t a disaster, and you don’t need to trash that sauce. You can easily turn it around to the thicker consistency that you are looking for. But how would you do that? And what would you need for it? Below are a few tried-and-trusted methods for rescuing watery curries that I’ve learned and utilized over time.
So, how do you thicken a curry sauce? Simmering the sauce over low-medium heat is the simplest way to thicken curry sauce without the use of any extra tools or ingredients. The addition of ingredients for thickening is yet another great technique. This includes ingredients such as roux (flour and butter), Kneaded butter (beurre manié), starches such as corn starch, potato or tapioca starch, tomato paste, dairy, coconut cream/milk, nuts, and pureed vegetables.
Of course, the foundation for a wonderful sauce is a decent recipe.
The flavor of your curry sauce may vary depending on the ingredients you use for thickening.
The technique will also depend upon the type of curry sauce you are making and the stage of cooking it’s at.
Personal preferences, time, and the availability of additional ingredients are other factors you need to consider while choosing the method.
If you’re having trouble getting the right thickness, try these tips using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
But firstly, I am sure you are curious to find out why your curry sauce is so thin and runny, to begin with?
Well, let’s find out!
- 1 Why Is My Curry Sauce Thin?
- 2 How Thick Does A Curry Sauce Need To Be?
- 3 What Can You Use To Thicken Curry Sauce?
- 4 How To Thicken Curry Sauce – All Of The Options
- 5 Other Suggestions To Avoid A Watery Curry Sauce
- 6 Lastly
Why Is My Curry Sauce Thin?
When too much liquid/broth is added to curry sauce, it will become flat and runny. It may be thin if the cooking temperature is insufficient for it to cook, or the cooking time is too short, and the reduction of the sauce does not happen. Also, not using the correct substitutions in the recipe will add in excess moisture. All these factors can result in a thin sauce.
Sometimes, excess moisture can come from using frozen ingredients.
The defrosting of the ingredients in the curry sauce can result in a watery sauce.
To cook off any excess liquid and achieve the desired thickness, a curry must be simmered on low heat.
Because curry sauce thickens as it simmers, you must be patient and allow it to reach the desired thickness. That may not be something you have done, either.
Substituting ingredients in a recipe can change the thickness – e.g., using low-fat coconut milk instead of coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk.
So, use the exact ingredients as stated in the recipe.
How Thick Does A Curry Sauce Need To Be?
If you are a curry fan, you already know that a great curry sauce can range from thick or thin. However, the ideal consistency would be one that is neither too runny nor too thick.
The curry sauce should not be flowing all over the plate.
It must be thick enough to stick to the food.
And yet, it should be fluid enough to dip your flatbread in or easily pourable to be mixed and had with rice.
So, how will you know whether your curry sauce is thick enough? With the help of a spoon, you can easily examine the thickness.
When you drop the spoon in the sauce and then lift it out, the back of the spoon should be coated nicely with the sauce.
That’s the level of consistency you are looking for every single time.
What Can You Use To Thicken Curry Sauce?
If your curry sauce is thin and watery, you have either the option to thicken it with heat and time or add ingredients that act as thickening agents.
For the former, you can try simmering it for a longer period to evaporate the liquid.
For the latter, you can add specific ingredients that act as thickening agents, e.g., flour and butter (roux or beurre manié), starch (cornstarch, potato or tapioca starch), dairy, coconut cream/milk, tomato paste, nuts, and pureed vegetables.
With so many options, you’re sure to find a method that’s just right for you.
It does, however, necessitate some patience.
Regardless of the approach you use, start cautiously, and add ingredients in little increments.
How To Thicken Curry Sauce – All Of The Options
I’ve put together a list of several thickening alternatives for your curry sauce.
Each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, but you’ll be able to choose one that best meets your needs.
Thickening By Reducing
Reducing the curry sauce by simmering is the easiest technique for cooking the sauce at a lower temperature for a longer period, thereby intensifying the flavor.
Let the heat and time do the work for you. The longer you simmer your sauce, the thicker it’ll become.
But keep the heat low to avoid overcooking the ingredients and burning the bottom of the curry.
Allow the pot to sit uncovered while simmering for thickness to allow steam to escape easily and thereby hastening the reduction process.
Remember that simmering takes time, so don’t use this method if you’re in a hurry.
This technique is frequently used in conjunction with the addition of thickening agents.
Thickening With Flour
A roux, made with equal parts of flour and butter, is a super effective thickener.
Simply melt a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then, to the butter, add a spoonful of all-purpose flour.
Cook until it forms a paste, then cook until it sizzles and has a ‘nutty’ aroma.
Now combine this paste thoroughly into your curry sauce. You’ll notice that the curry sauce thickens instantly with some simmering.
While adding the roux, keep stirring continuously.
The roux will not only enhance the texture but adds a characteristic flavor.
Thickening With Beurre Manié
If you have trouble making a good roux, you can thicken your sauce with beurre manié instead.
This is nothing but kneaded butter. To make a smooth paste, equal parts of butter and flour are combined.
This paste is rolled into small balls.
The balls are then introduced one at a time while the sauce is constantly stirred. As the sauce simmers for sufficient time, it’ll begin to thicken.
You can adjust the sauce’s thickness, if necessary, by adding more roux / beurre manié.
Remove the sauce from the heat once it has thickened to your liking.
Thickening With Starch
Curries, like any other sauce, can be quickly thickened with starch.
Cornstarch, tapioca starch, potato starch, or any other starch you have on hand can be used.
You may also sue Arrowroot if you do not have any of the other starches available.
But remember to make a slurry when using this method. Adding the starch directly to the curry sauce can cause clumping.
Combine starch with cold water or a cup of curry sauce liquid to make a smooth slurry.
Add this near the end of the cooking process, and the sauce should thicken as soon as it returns to a boil.
Make a note not to boil the sauce after adding the starch slurry, as this will change the thickening properties and cause the sauce to break out.
Because the starch masks the sauce’s flavor, taste it and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Thickening With Dairy
Sauces benefit from the addition of rich, creamy dairy products.
Full-fat and Greek yogurts work best because they are thick and creamy and will not curdle when mixed into sauces.
Make sure to add it in small quantities while stirring continuously to combine well with the sauce.
It is important to note here that when adding yogurt, don’t add it while the curry is still hot, or it will split.
Adding heavy cream/double cream to your curry will not only make it thicker but milder as well if it’s on the spicier side.
To avoid curdling, keep the heat at a minimum and keep stirring.
Thickening with Coconut Milk/Cream
If you are vegan, then use a non-dairy ingredient like coconut cream to thicken your curry sauce.
Also, you need to consider the type of curry when using this method.
It will add a mellow, sweet flavor and creamy texture to your curry, whether you use it in milk or cream form.
If you’re using canned coconut milk, stir in half a cup to your curry sauce while it’s simmering on low heat.
Before opening the can, don’t shake or mix it since the thick cream will float to the top.
Scoop out and use the cream first, then add the remaining liquid and thin out as needed.
Thickening With Tomato Paste
For tomato-based curry sauces, this is actually a no-brainer.
You can use tomato paste or puree to add depth and bulk to the sauce.
This is added during the cooking step from the start, therefore reducing the cooking time.
To account for the extra tomato, you may need to adjust the other seasonings or vegetables.
Thickening With Nuts
Adding nuts to the curry sauce for thickening can give a creamier texture and enhance the nutritive value.
Puree a handful of unsalted raw cashews, almonds, or peanuts, depending on the curry sauce you are making and your personal preferences.
It’s better to avoid this procedure if there are any folks who are allergic to nuts.
You can use 1 to 2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter as well.
If using peanut or any other nut butter, add it at the very end just before finishing.
Thickening with Pureed Vegetables
You can make a thick paste/ puree with boiled vegetables and then add them to the sauce.
At low heat, quickly combine the puree with the rest of the sauce.
Some of the vegetables that can be used are – potatoes, squash, carrots, eggplant, etc.
Incorporating veggies that are essential to the recipe might also help to keep the curry sauce’s flavor intact.
The addition of vegetables thickens the curry sauce and reduces the heat level.
If your curry sauce has excess salt in it, the pureed vegetable can help save it as well.
Other Suggestions To Avoid A Watery Curry Sauce
If your sauce is still too thin, don’t worry; just repeat any of the above methods.
Alternatively, you can try to experiment and fine-tune some of the other techniques listed below.
Allow To Cool
If your curry sauce is a little thin and you’re beginning to wonder how to make it thicker, leave it off the heat for 10 minutes and see if it thickens.
If you refrigerate it for some time, it’ll do the trick as well.
Using Less Liquid
Curry recipes with vegetables are usually a little less thick.
It is because vegetables release moisture as they cook. As a result, your quantities may need to be adjusted.
So, start with less liquid/ water in the beginning. You can easily top up later as you go.
A couple of tablespoons of cooked red lentils would help to thicken curries slightly.
Lentils swell and absorb the water, and break down in curries.
They bind the excess moisture in the sauce and thicken the sauce as they soften upon cooking.
This will change the flavor of your curry slightly, but they also increase the nutritive value of the sauce.
Adding Rice Powder
You can quickly make rice powder by grinding half a cup of rice in a blender. This is a gluten-free option.
When 1-2 tablespoons of this are added to your curry sauce, it thickens it up rapidly.
Make a slurry by mixing a little powder with some sauce and then pouring it into the rest of the sauce.
Patience and Practice
When it comes to thickening a curry sauce, it’s all about trial and error.
A little effort and patience go a long way toward making the ideal curry sauce.
Thickening a curry sauce is not as tricky as it might sound.
The basic principle of thickening a curry remains the same no matter what curry you make.
You can use any approach you like, as long as you bear in mind the time and ingredients you have on hand.
Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.