Beer and food matching: Chicken curry

Related tags Curry

This month - What would you serve with chicken curry? John Porter gets some expert advice.Chicken curry is now one of the nation's favourite foods,...

This month - What would you serve with chicken curry? John Porter gets some expert advice.

Chicken curry is now one of the nation's favourite foods, and is a feature of thousands of pub menus.

There are some obvious choices, including lager brands such as Kingfisher and Cobra, while many of our beer and food matching experts have understandably homed in on India Pale Ales (IPAs) with their recommendations, there are also some more unusual brews in the frame.

  • John Keeling, head brewer, Fuller's:​ Fuller's India Pale Ale is obviously the natural accompaniment, seeing as it was exported to the home of curry - and I don't mean Bradford. However, lager is often a popular choice with curry as its cleanliness cuts through the strong flavours. If you are looking for a more flavoursome alternative to do this job, I'd suggest Fuller's Discovery. For those who are feeling really adventurous, why not try something with a strong flavour of its own, like Humpty Dumpty Brewery's Lemon & Ginger Beer.

Ben McFarland, Beer Writer of the Year, and the subject of a controversial lifetime ban from the all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet at the Bombay Palace:​ Why not jettison the Indian connection and opt for a South-East "Asian" accompaniment to your curry? One that stands up well to the spiciness of a curry is Singha from Thailand.

With more malty character and residual sweetness than other Asian beers, Singha will neither back down from a fiery fight of flavours nor make a nuisance of itself by overwhelming the subtle nuances in a dish. What's more, it's genuinely imported (unlike some other 'Asian' lagers one could mention), it's fondly thought of by globe-trotting drinkers and, with Thailand needing all the investment it can get following the Boxing Day tsunami, you'll be doing a little bit of work for "charidee".

Richard Fox, chef and author:​ If it's a Thai Green Chicken Curry, a zesty wheat beer would be just the thing. A Belgian version such as Hoegaarden contains Curacao orange peel and coriander. These elements would match up perfectly with the lime and coriander flavours in the curry. If it were a spicier Indian curry I would suggest a quality Indian lager, brewed and bottled in its country of origin, such as the fragrant and spicy Adi Adi. It's got enough flavour in the right areas not to be overwhelmed by the curry, and it will also cleanse the palate after each mouthful, leaving it refreshed and ready for more.

Greene King head brewer John Bexon:​ While Greene King IPA never made it to India, chicken curry certainly made it over here. It is now the UK's number one dish and is perfectly complemented by Greene King's award-winning, best-selling beer.

The challenge with curries is to get a beer that is characterful enough to deliver flavour when those strong, spicy tangs are competing on the palate. The challenger and first gold English hops in Greene King IPA give real taste, complementing the aromatic quality of the curry, but also help to ensure the refreshing quality that you need for rich, hot foods.

Mike Robinson, chef/licensee at the Pot Kiln, Frilsham, Berkshire:​ When we serve chicken curry we recommend either Bitburger lager on draught or a really dry Normandy cider. A cidre bouché style cider and a curry work very well together - the light, cold, crisp, appley taste cuts through the "curriness". Also, French ciders are only three to four per cent ABV, unlike stronger UK ciders, so you can drink enough to cool you down. When we have a night off from the pub and get a takeaway, the cider is what we drink with a curry.

Ben Bartlett, catering development manager, Union Pub Company:​ Marston's Old Empire, with its light appearance and full flavoured hoppy taste is the only beer I know that really matches curry. This beer makes you want to try food, it has caramelisation and roast. Its higher alcoholic strength will match any spicy curry. A robust strain of yeast is used to reflect IPA as brewed in the 19th century for thirsty ex-pats and colonial soldiers in India having been on a three month boat journey.
Kamini Dickie, Brewing Research International:​ Indian food is one of the world's greatest cuisines. With a vibrancy of aromas and colours, Indian dishes are a harmonious combination of mild and strong spices, savoury ingredients, a degree of tartness and sometimes a hint of sweetness.

There are a number of beers that go very well with chicken curry, including those specially designed for curries. But I'm not going to recommend a beer. I'll let you into a well kept secret: cider! For me it is the perfect accompaniment to many Indian foods. A sweet fruity cider like Scrumpy Jack is the mango chutney for a creamy, sweet chicken curry like a korma, whereas a refreshing, apple-sharp, tangy dry cider like Strongbow, or Blackthorn, is lime pickle to a richer, spicy chicken curry, such as a jalfrezi.

Next time around, the panel will be looking for the ideal beer to accompany lasagne.

  • If there's a dish on your menu you'd like the panel to make some beer recommendations for, email your suggestion to chosbbq@gurchoyvpna.pbz

Related topics News

Property of the week


£ 60,000 - Leasehold

Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more