Good Question: Indian Food Without the Heat?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Here’s a good question from Amy, who wants Indian food but needs to have it less spicy.

I like to eat Indian food on occasion but generally find it too spicy. I have acid reflux so I need to avoid spicy foods as well as other loves like coffee and chocolate. I’m wondering if I can make my own curry powder and omit the spicy spices that are included in it. Would it still taste good? Any ideas or tips? Anyone have a recipe for a non-spicy curry powder?

Amy, we have good news. You can easily cook Indian food with heat levels exactly to your taste. In fact, this question reminded us of a post from a week or two ago:

In that post we answered a question about why curry powder didn’t make a soup taste very flavorful. The answer there is similar to what we would say to you: spice levels as well as flavor are built from the ground up in Indian sauces and curries. Usually the heat level doesn’t come from finishing powders at all. It comes instead from whole peppercorns and chilies cooked with the onions and garlic in the base of the sauce.

Most curry powders and garam masala mixes are not actually very spicy. Their ingredients include mild, fragrant spices like cinnamon, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and ginger.

So, when you are cooking Indian food, adjust the heat level in the base of the sauce by leaving out black peppercorns, dried chilies, and fresh peppers. Here is one recipe you can easily adjust, since we show it to you step by step:

If you still would like to make your own masala powders, adjusting them to your taste, here are a couple recipes:

We do recommend trying these! After all, freshly made spice mixes are excellent and will always be fresher and better-tasting than storebought mixes. If you want to make them less spicy, leave out any black peppercorns, chilies, and chili powder.


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