Which is hotter: red, yellow, or green Thai curry?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Which is hotter: red, yellow, or green Thai curry? We will discuss the differences between red, yellow, or green Thai curry; mention the five types of Thai curry, and explain the difference between curry paste and curry powder. 

Which is hotter: red, yellow, or green Thai curry?

Red curry is hotter than yellow or green Thai curry, and is the most widely used in Thai cuisine and is usually presented in the form of a paste, made from dry spices mixed with oils. Its main ingredient is red chili, that’s where the color and name come from. It is spicy and is widely used for dishes in which fish is the main product.

The yellow curry is the most common and consumed in Western countries and with which, possibly, Europeans are most familiar. It is presented in ground form and among its spices, the presence of turmeric predominates, which gives it the yellow color that gives it its name. The yellow curry is generally served with meat and fish and is usually accompanied by rice.

Green curry is also one of the most widely used in Thai cuisine and, like red curry, it comes in the form of a paste. It is characterized by its spicy flavor and has two main ingredients that give it the color that gives it its name, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil leaves.

How are curries prepared?

Unlike their Asian neighbors who use ground spices directly, Thai people cook mainly with curry paste as a base for their dishes.

This paste can be purchased ready-made or prepared ahead of time at home. It is composed of a mixture of powdered spices (coriander seeds, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, chili…), ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil. Of course, depending on the curry, the ingredients change.

This paste is then incorporated into the preparation along with the other ingredients of the recipe, such as Thai eggplants, galangal, peppers, coconut milk, and always a little palm sugar for a smoother and sweeter flavor. They are very often served with rice.

So there are several curries like that?

There are mainly 5 types of curry in Thailand:

Green curry Recognizable by its creamy green color, this delicious curry goes wonderfully with chicken, and why not salmon. With its flavors of coriander grains, cumin, lemongrass, ginger, nuoc mam, and chili, it is spicy but also sweet thanks to its touch of coconut milk. It is served with galangal and Thai eggplant as well as aniseed basil and kaffir leaves. It owes its color to the peppers and green peppers that make up its paste.

Red curryRather close to green curry in many ways, red curry is spicier thanks to its red peppers, which it retains strength and color. It is also composed of coriander seeds, cumin, lemongrass, ginger, and coconut milk. Accompanied by eggplant, it is perfect for chicken, duck, beef, and shrimp. It is a curry widely used in Thai cuisine.

Yellow curryVery similar to Indian curry, it gives Thailand the smoothness of coconut milk. This yellow curry owes its color to turmeric and returns to the mouth the marked flavor of coriander grains. It’s sweet and spicy and goes perfectly with chicken, shrimp, or fish. It is often made with potatoes and peppers.

Massaman curryIn the pure Muslim culinary tradition, Massaman curry is very fragrant and very slightly spicy. It is most often served with beef but can also be made with chicken, duck, or lamb. Coriander seeds, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, and of course lemongrass, give it a unique flavor. It is recognizable by its brown color.

Panang curryVery similar to red curry, Paneang differs in the addition of peanuts to the preparation. We find the flavors of coriander grains, cumin, lemongrass, kaffir, ginger, and coconut milk. Recognizable by its beautiful orange color, it has a spicy, sweet, and slightly sweet taste. This dish goes very well with beef, chicken, or pork. 

For our vegetarian friends, it is possible to replace the meat with tofu. It is also a very popular curry in Thailand!

Curry paste vs curry powder 

The difference between curry paste and curry powder is that the curry powder will contain exclusively ground spices, while in a paste we will find mixed spices and herbs. For this reason, curry paste is usually more fragrant. However, it is kept for less time.

Curry paste is most often used in Thai food. It is a moist blend of ground herbs and spices and is usually made fresh when certain herbs are in season. There are several varieties of curry paste, including red, green, yellow, massaman, and Panaeng. The names depend on the ingredients used.

Red curry paste includes red chili peppers, while green chilies are used in green curry paste. Yellow curry paste gets its color from turmeric, which is in the ginger family and is used in curry powder. Panaeng curry paste is milder than the others, and Massaman curry paste includes dried spices as well as fresh ingredients.

Curry powder comes in sweet and hot varieties, and both generally include turmeric, coriander, and fenugreek, a bitter herb used in a number of dishes, including Egyptian and Lebanese dishes. Curry powder mixes can also include cumin, ginger, garlic, cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper.

Curry (from the Tamil Kari, “sauce”) or curry is the name used in the West to define a series of dishes made based on a mixture of spices and condiments. The mixture results in a spicy sauce and has been developed in Asian, East, and Southeast cuisines.

There are a few different types of curry, but generally, it is a powder that is made up of varying amounts of different spices and dried herbs: coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper, cloves, nutmeg, mustard, fenugreek, coriander, and turmeric, among others. The latter is one of the most important ingredients and it is what gives it the yellow color that characterizes it.

Other FAQs about Curry that you may be interested in.

How do you add sweetness to Thai curry?

How do I use Thai curry paste?

How do I make my Thai curry less spicy? 


Red curry is hotter than yellow or green Thai curry, and is the most widely used in Thai cuisine and is usually presented in the form of a paste, made from dry spices mixed with oils. 

We remind you that green curry has a more mild taste, compared to the yellow and red curry. Both green and yellow curry are ideal for chicken and vegetables. It also works with shrimp and some fish.

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