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7 Mildest Indian Curries – Complete Guide

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Indian cuisine is a symphony of flavors, with spices and ingredients harmonizing to create dishes that span a wide spectrum of tastes and heat levels. While some Indian curries are known for their fiery intensity, others offer a milder, yet equally delightful experience.

So, what are the mildest Indian curries? Your safest and easiest options to go for include Korma, Butter Chicken, Tikka Masala, and Pasanda, to name a few. These do come with varying levels of spice, but generally, they can be requested without any spice at all.

In this exploration of Indian gastronomy, we embark on a journey through the seven mildest Indian curries that promise to tantalize your taste buds without overwhelming them.

Are All Indian Curries Spicy?

No, not all Indian curries are spicy. Indian cuisine is incredibly diverse, and it offers a wide range of flavors and heat levels.

Mild Curries

Some Indian curries, like Korma and Pasanda, are intentionally mild.

These curries use ingredients like yogurt, cream, coconut milk, and ground nuts to create a rich and creamy sauce.

They may contain a hint of warmth from spices like cinnamon and cardamom, but they are not meant to be spicy.

Moderately Spicy Curries

Curries like Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken fall into this category. They have a moderate level of heat, which comes from spices like paprika, cumin, and coriander. These dishes are flavorful but not overwhelmingly spicy.

That being said, many Indian restaurants, especially those located in non-Indian or Asian regions, are not spicy for Western pallets.

Regional Variations

Indian cuisine is highly regional, and spice levels can vary widely from one part of India to another.

For example, curries from the southern regions of India, like Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, tend to be spicier due to the use of fiery chili peppers.

This concept applies to the same types of curries as well. In one part of India, you’ll find butter chicken made with a ton of chili. In another, no chili at all. So, your local restaurant may prepare and season classic curries according to their regional variation.

Customization

Indian restaurants and home cooks often allow customers to customize the spice level of their curries. You can request your curry to be mild, medium, or hot to suit your preference.

Balancing Spices

Indian chefs are skilled at balancing spices, and heat is just one element. They also consider other flavors like sweet, sour, and savory, aiming for a harmonious blend in each dish. Spice does not always take priority.

7 Mildest Indian Curries

Indian cuisine is renowned for its bold and diverse flavors, often associated with fiery spices. However, not all Indian curries will set your taste buds on fire. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best mild Indian curries you can readily find in your city!

1. Korma

Korma is a creamy, mildly spiced curry dish that originates from the Indian subcontinent. While the dish originated in Northern India, it has evolved over time and has numerous regional variations throughout India, Pakistan, and beyond. Each region adds its unique twist to this beloved curry.

korma

Its name, “korma” or “qorma,” is derived from the Urdu word for “braise.” This aptly describes the cooking process, where meat or vegetables are braised in a flavorful sauce until tender.

Korma is renowned for its delicate balance of aromatic spices and creamy richness.

Ingredients and Preparation

The base of a korma sauce typically includes a mixture of yogurt or cream, ground nuts (such as almonds or cashews), and aromatic spices. The choice of meat or vegetables varies, with chicken, lamb, and beef being common options.

Spice Level

Korma is known for its mild and gentle spice profile. It is not meant to be overly spicy, making it accessible to a wide range of palates.

The focus here is on the richness of the sauce and the interplay of aromatic spices, rather than intense heat.

Variations

Korma comes in many regional variations, each offering a unique twist on this classic dish.

Shahi Korma: “Shahi” means royal, and this version often includes additional luxury ingredients like saffron, dried fruits, and ghee.

Hyderabadi Korma: From the city of Hyderabad, this variation is spicier and often includes tamarind pulp for a tangy kick.

Vegetable Korma: A vegetarian version where an assortment of vegetables takes center stage.

Navratan Korma: This “nine-gem” korma includes a medley of nine different vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

2. Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken, also known as “Murgh Makhani,” is a beloved Indian curry dish renowned for its rich and creamy tomato-based sauce.

butter chicken

Butter Chicken has its roots in Punjabi cuisine, originating in the northern region of India, particularly in the city of Delhi.

Over time, it has become a staple in Indian restaurants worldwide. While it retains its classic form, regional variations and adaptations have emerged to cater to different tastes.

Ingredients and Preparation

The hallmark of Butter Chicken is its velvety tomato-based sauce, which is created by simmering tomatoes, cream, and a medley of aromatic spices. Key spices include fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi), cumin, coriander, and cardamom.

Boneless chicken pieces are marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices, which can include garlic, ginger, garam masala, and chili powder. This marination not only adds flavor but also tenderizes the meat.

Traditionally, the marinated chicken is cooked in a tandoor (clay oven) to impart a smoky and charred flavor. In modern recipes, it may be roasted or grilled.

Spice Level

Butter Chicken is celebrated for its mild and creamy profile. It is not meant to be a fiery dish but instead offers a harmonious balance of flavors with a subtle hint of spice.

The creaminess of the sauce counters any potential heat, making it accessible to a wide audience.

Variations

While the classic Butter Chicken recipe is cherished, several variations cater to specific tastes.

Paneer Butter Masala: A vegetarian twist on the classic, with Indian cottage cheese (paneer) replacing the chicken.

Mushroom Butter Masala: Mushrooms are used as the main ingredient for a delightful vegetarian version.

Cashew Butter Chicken: Incorporates ground cashews into the sauce for added richness.

3. Pasanda

Pasanda Curry, often simply referred to as “Pasanda,” is a luxurious and aromatic dish originating from the Mughlai cuisine of India.

pasanda

This dish is renowned for its tender meat, rich and creamy sauce, and delicate use of spices. It epitomizes the opulence and grandeur of Mughal royalty and is considered a culinary masterpiece.

Ingredients and Preparation

Thin slices of meat, often lamb or beef, are marinated in a mixture of yogurt and a blend of spices. The marination imparts tenderness and flavor to the meat.

The sauce for Pasanda is where its richness shines. It’s prepared by blending together cashews, almonds, and cream, resulting in a velvety, nutty base. This sauce is then flavored with aromatic spices like cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon.

Pasanda is traditionally garnished with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and sometimes a sprinkle of roasted nuts.

Spice Level

Pasanda is known for its mild and delicately spiced profile. It is not meant to be a spicy dish.

The creaminess of the nut-based sauce balances any potential heat, making it a delightful choice for those who prefer milder curries.

Variations

While the classic Pasanda recipe remains a favorite, some variations cater to specific preferences.

Vegetarian Pasanda: In vegetarian versions, paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or vegetables are used instead of meat.

Chicken Pasanda: Chicken is a popular choice for Pasanda, offering a lighter alternative to red meat.

4. Tikka Masala

Chicken Masala Curry, a culinary gem from India, is renowned for its aromatic and flavorful profile. It’s a dish that combines tender pieces of chicken with a rich and spiced tomato-based gravy, resulting in a harmonious blend of textures and tastes.

tikka masala

While Chicken Masala Curry is cherished all across India, it has its roots in the northern regions, especially Punjab.

However, variations of this dish can be found throughout the country, each region adding its unique twist. In South India, for instance, you might find a “Chettinad Chicken Curry” known for its intense spiciness.

Ingredients and Preparation

Bone-in or boneless chicken pieces are used, often marinated in yogurt and spices to infuse them with flavor and tenderness.

The curry’s foundation is a tomato-based sauce, created by blending or simmering tomatoes until they break down into a smooth puree.

A medley of spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala imparts layers of flavor. Fresh ginger and garlic paste are also fundamental components.

Creaminess is introduced through the addition of cream or yogurt, providing a luscious texture and balancing the spices.

Finally, fresh coriander leaves and sometimes a squeeze of lemon or lime are used as garnish to add a refreshing note.

Spice Level

The spice level of Chicken Masala Curry can vary from mild to moderately hot, depending on the recipe and personal preferences.

It typically has a warm, comforting heat rather than an overwhelming spiciness. The spices used in the curry contribute to its rich, complex flavor without being overly fiery.

Variations

Chicken Masala Curry’s popularity has led to various regional and personalized adaptations.

Butter Chicken: A milder version known for its creamy tomato sauce, often preferred by those who enjoy a less spicy profile.

Chicken Tikka Masala: This dish features chicken tikka (marinated and grilled chicken pieces) in a tomato-based masala sauce, offering a unique texture and flavor.

Kadai Chicken: A spicier variation prepared with a blend of ground spices and bell peppers, known for its bold, robust flavor.

Methi Chicken: This version includes fenugreek leaves, which impart a slightly bitter and earthy flavor to the curry.

Malai Chicken: A creamy rendition with the addition of cashew or almond paste for extra richness.

5. Biryani

Biryani is a fragrant and flavorful medley of long-grain Basmati rice, succulent meats or vegetables, and a harmonious blend of aromatic spices. Biryani is celebrated for its irresistible taste and captivating aroma.

biryani

Biryani can be traced back to the Indian subcontinent, particularly to the Mughal Empire. Over the centuries, it has evolved into a diverse range of regional variations, each with its own distinct character.

Ingredients and Preparation

Biryani is a labor of love, with preparation that involves multiple steps. 

The choice of meat varies, including chicken, mutton, beef, or seafood. For vegetarian Biryani, you’ll find a delightful assortment of vegetables. No matter what gets chosen, it’s usually marinated in yogurt to add creaminess and flavor.

Basmati rice is rinsed, soaked, and partially cooked before being layered with the main ingredients.

Biryani’s signature aroma comes from spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaves. Saffron or turmeric lends its vibrant color.

And to finish it off, garnishes include fresh herbs such as mint and coriander, fried onions, and fried cashews or almonds.

Spice Level

Biryani’s spice level varies, but it is generally characterized by its bold, aromatic spices.

Some versions, like Hyderabadi Biryani, can be quite spicy, while others, such as Lucknowi Biryani, are milder. The heat level is often adjusted to suit regional preferences.

Variations

The diversity of Biryani is a testament to its enduring popularity.

Hyderabadi Biryani: Known for its generous use of spices, saffron-infused rice, and tender meat, often goat or chicken. Hyderabadi Biryani is famous for its Dum method of slow-cooking, where the pot is sealed with dough to trap the steam and flavors.

Lucknowi (Awadhi) Biryani: Characterized by its delicate flavors and use of fragrant spices. It is known for its intricate preparation, including marinating meat in yogurt and cooking over a low flame.

Kolkata Biryani: A lighter version where potatoes are an essential component. It’s mildly spiced and often incorporates boiled eggs.

Malabar Biryani: Hailing from the southern state of Kerala, it features fragrant spices like cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. Malabar Biryani typically uses a mix of chicken and beef.

6. Malai Kofta

Malai Kofta is a delectable North Indian curry that showcases the rich and creamy side of Indian cuisine.

malai kofta

This dish consists of deep-fried koftas (dumplings) made from a mixture of paneer (Indian cottage cheese), potatoes, nuts, and aromatic spices, served in a luxurious tomato-based gravy.

Ingredients and Preparation

Malai Kofta is a labor-intensive dish, with distinct components.

The koftas are made by mashing together paneer, boiled potatoes, finely chopped nuts (usually cashews and almonds), aromatic spices like garam masala and coriander, and sometimes raisins for sweetness. These are shaped into balls, deep-fried until golden brown, and set aside.

The creamy tomato-based gravy is prepared with ingredients like tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and a blend of spices. Cashew paste, heavy cream, and a touch of sugar contribute to the rich, velvety texture and slightly sweet flavor.

Key spices include cumin, coriander, red chili powder, and garam masala, creating a balanced, flavorful profile.

Popular garnishes for this curry include chopped cilantro, cream, and a sprinkle of dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi) to provide the finishing touch.

Level of Spice

Malai Kofta is not traditionally a very spicy dish. Its primary flavors are creamy, slightly sweet, and aromatic, with a mild heat from spices like red chili powder and garam masala.

The heat level can be adjusted to suit personal preferences.

Variations

Variations of Malai Kofta exist to cater to different tastes.

Vegetarian Malai Kofta: This is the classic version, with koftas made from paneer and potatoes.

Non-Vegetarian Malai Kofta: Some versions incorporate minced meat, such as lamb or chicken, into the koftas for a meaty twist.

Low-Fat Malai Kofta: For a healthier option, the koftas can be shallow-fried or baked instead of deep-fried.

7. Dhansak

Dhansak is a distinctive and flavorful Parsi (Indian Zoroastrian) dish that combines elements of Persian and Indian cuisine. It’s known for its complex and harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors.

dhansak

Dhansak traditionally combines meat, lentils, vegetables, and a mix of aromatic spices, making it a true representation of the Parsi culinary heritage.

Ingredients and Preparation

Traditionally, mutton (goat or lamb) is used, although chicken or beef variations exist. The meat is marinated in spices, often including ginger, garlic, turmeric, and chili powder.

A key component of Dhansak is a mix of lentils, typically a combination of tuvar (pigeon peas) and masoor (red lentils). These are soaked, boiled, and then mashed into a paste.

Commonly used vegetables include pumpkin, eggplant, and okra. These are added to the lentil mixture.

Dhansak is also well-known for its rich spice blend, which often includes cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves. The spice mix can vary from one cook to another, resulting in nuanced flavors.

Jaggery and tamarind contribute to the unique sweet and sour profile of Dhansak. 

Level of Spice

Dhansak is moderately spicy, with a balanced heat level that doesn’t overpower its sweet and sour notes. The spiciness is usually achieved through red chili powder and black peppercorns.

That being said, in many Western regions, you’ll find it quite mild. It depends from restaurant to restaurant.

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