You certainly can bulk out a curry. Curries are one of the most versatile foodstuffs around the world, and variations on the main theme can be found across huge swathes of the planet.
The best way to bulk out any food, not just curries, is to add starchy carbohydrates. This can be any number of things, such as rice or noodles. However, if those things don’t quite hit the spot and you want more curry in your curry, you still have options.
Can You Bulk Out A Curry?
As well as serving your curry along with a generous helping of rice, you can bulk out a curry by adding chunky pieces of root vegetables. A lot of the best curries take several hours to cook over very low heat, and this is why. If you’ve got a curry that needs some more body, then you can add in sweet potato, for example.
The sweet potato will soak up any flavors from the broth of the curry in no time at all, meaning that while it’s cooking, you’ll be getting a richly flavored addition to your curry.
Because of the gentle sweetness which sweet potato brings to dishes, it is a great way to reduce the overall spiciness of a given dish.
A number of dishes in traditionally Eastern food combine sweetness and spice effortlessly to create a wonderfully well-balanced dish. This can be seen in dishes like Satay, which pair the creaminess of a nut blend with the spiciness of fresh chili.
In Indian curries, a great example is saag aloo – a potato and spinach dish which uses the smoothness of the potato and gentle bitterness of the spinach to counteract the inherent heat of the chili in the dish.
To bulk out the sauce of curry, making the meal more similar to a broth than a traditionally dry curry, then you can add any number of things to the sauce which will help to expand the meal.
The two best contenders are stock and plant-based milk.
Stock works wonderfully well when the main protein in the meal that you’re making is also based upon the same animal. For example – a chicken stock will work well to bulk out a chicken curry, while a fish stock would work well to bulk out a prawn curry.
This helps to add some additional seasoning to the meal overall and can help to identify that one thing that might be ‘missing’ at least compared to a curry from your local takeaway.
Adding plant-based milk to the sauce that your curry is cooking in will help in two ways. Firstly, it will mean that you can easily increase the volume of food that you’re serving to each, individual, person.
This is because the sauce will be much thinner overall, leading to a need for more starchy carbs to help soak up all that sauce. Whether these carbs take the form of rice or naan bread, they will lead to fuller bellies all round.
The other way that plant-based milk will help when it is added to your curry is that you will be cutting the overall spice level. This will mean that you can more easily feed people who might have an aversion to spicier food, yet again allowing you to feed a greater number of people.
There are two reasons why using plant-based milk is better in a curry. The first is that it’s simply more traditional. Not a lot of dairy is used in Indian cooking, due to the prevalence of Hinduism in the country – cow products aren’t used in that religion.
The second reason that plant-based milk will serve you well is that it won’t curdle in the curry. Curdling is always a problem when cooking with cow milk, as it is the process by which heat is slowly supplied to milk, and eventually, it separates into curds and whey.
This isn’t ideal, especially when you’re adding milk to a large amount of food. If the milk does split, it will have a negative flavor effect on the dish, leading to a whole pot of curry which now may not be useable.
Can These Methods Work With All Curries?
Simply put, yes!
The longer answer, though, is that you would have to concern yourself with learning which of the methods work best for different types of curry.
For example, using plant-based milk to increase the volume of curry that you have is best done when used in Thai curries, especially in recipes from Southern Thailand. This is what is done traditionally – the protein is cooked in a fairly dry sauce made with hot chilies.
When everything is cooked through, plant-based milk (typically coconut milk) is added, leading to a thin, broth-like soup that is served on a large bed of rice. The sauce flavors the rice, leading to a simple, cheap, and filling meal.
Using stock and root vegetables works best when you’re making a curry that is more similar to an Indian style. This is because the typical sauce of a number of traditional Indian curries is made up of chopped tomatoes and a relevant stock.
This sauce is then reduced through cooking for a long time over low heat, allowing for the sauce to get more intense flavors, and thereby lead to a rich final dish.
5 Simple Ways to Bulk Out A Curry
Adding more stock to a curry is a great way to allow the meal to get padded out quickly and easily. It will add some gentle seasonings to the dish and can help to make the meal richer, to boot.
A great rule of thumb when adding stock to a curry is to add roughly 750ml of stock for every two people who will be eating, and then allow the curry to simmer and reduce for twenty to thirty minutes.
The reason that you want the sauce to reduce slightly is that the end result will be a thicker, richer sauce, which will go further and contain more flavor than similar sauces.
2. Plant-Based Milk
Adding plant-based milk to a curry is a great idea if you’ve made a base that is especially flavorful. This method is often used to cut the spice level in a dish, but it can be used for any meal which has a particular potency one way or another.
If you’ve cooked your base protein with a particularly large amount of salt, for example, then it may be wonderful to add plant-based milk to reduce the harshness there.
This means that you’ll have an overall sauce that is very well seasoned, while also having delightfully strong chunks of potently seasoned protein throughout it.
To add a good amount of milk to your dish try going for roughly 250ml per two people who will be dining. This ratio is a good amount, as it will typically swell the amount of food in your pot adversely affecting the flavors on offer.
Adding a large quantity of butter to a curry is a much rarer choice than some other options, but it’s one that does work. There are a number of famous dishes – the biggest one is almost certainly butter chicken – which features butter predominantly, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s a really great and really simple addition to a meal which will surely help you to make a meal go further. Plus, from a dietary standpoint, butter is very calorie-dense. Adding butter, therefore, makes your meal more packed with calories, leading to a little going a long way.
Adding some extra protein to a dish can be tricky, especially when making curry. The reason for this is that the vast majority of curry dishes require protein to be fried at the start of the cooking process, but you’re likely to be considering bulking something out at a later time during cooking.
Therefore, the best proteins to add to bulk out a curry dish are non-meat proteins, such as tofu or paneer. These proteins will cook quickly and evenly in the broth of your dish, and will fill people up too!
That’s the truly impressive thing about proteins – they will allow people to get full more reliably and more quickly, leading to a larger meal overall. This is the reason why proteins typically feature very predominantly in breakfast – a couple of eggs will fill you up and keep you going for a surprisingly long amount of time.
5. Chunky Veg
Adding pieces of chunky veg is almost certainly the easiest and quickest way to bulk out a curry. The addition of root veg, or even small pieces of veg which might otherwise be discarded, is sure to be flavorsome and wonderful.
No matter what type of veg you’re adding to a curry, you’ll want to allow it to stew quite slowly. This will mean that you can ensure even the chunkiest parts of vegetables are cooked through adequately, plus you can create a dish that is healthier overall.
Finally, another great reason to use chunky veg to bulk out a curry is that it’s very cost-effective. Vegetables are extremely cheap, which means that dicing up a couple of potatoes and adding them to your meal could cost less than a pound, while also being nicely filling – that’s ideal when bulking out a meal!