The UK has a long-standing love affair with Indian food as well as being a nation of beer lovers, so it will come as no surprise that beer is the drink that is consumed most with Indian food. If you are heading to an Indian restaurant for your curry, the restaurant team will provide you with recommendations of parings, but how do you recreate that same perfect pair at home? Well, our team have spent hours tasting different beer and Indian food pairings (we promise it was a research activity!) so you can enjoy delicious Indian dishes with a beer that creates a match made in heaven.
Mild and Delicate Curries
If you prefer minimal heat dishes sun as Paneer, light vegetable curries, coconut- or cashew-based curry, and even a mild butter chicken, the perfect accompaniment would be a pale ale. Indeed, these pair best with lighter food and enhance the silkiness of cream/butter based dishes. A gorgeous combination would be a chickpea, coconut and cashew curry accompanied by a Theakston Pale Ale. The citrusy flavour of this British Ale will highlight the comforting creaminess of the coconut and cashew, while also providing freshness and brightness. Lagers also work well with these dishes. You could for example pair a Mild Pumpkin and Cauliflower curry or maybe a Tarka Dhal with a Kingfisher. The crisp yet refreshing bitterness as well as the citrus hints of this Indian Lager will perfectly pair with the light and smooth flavour pumpkin, cauliflower and yellow split peas. Although, you might want to move on from lighter beers when getting into richer dishes such as Tikka Masala, as these beers might not seem to match up to the bigger flavour.
When entering the realm of fried foods, you might want to opt for an Indian Pale Ales. These long forgotten Ales are now extremely popular for their variety and richness. They are a good choice for many dishes, but especially for fried and richer dishes. For example, you could pair a Bombay Bicycle with some Onion Bhajis or some samosas. This Indian IPA would also pair wonderfully with Tikka Masala or Biryani. Make sure to stay away from spicy foods as its dry and bitter finish might amplify the spice - unless that is what you are looking for of course.
When it comes to seafood based dishes you might want to look for a Golden Pale Ale with citrusy tones. This is because Pale Ales typically malty flavour and moderate strength compliment seafood flavours without overpowering them. They are full of flavour, but not too heavy, making them a drink of choice for light fish and seafood dishes. If that sounds like your thing, we recommend you to pair a prawn curry with a Theakston Lightfoot. This British Golden Pale Ale’s zesty lemon tones will perfectly compliment prawn’s soft and marine flavours. Try adding mango chutney or perhaps lime pickles spread on a roti to complete the experience!
Spicy and meat based-dishes
If you prefer heavier and/or meat based dishes, you might want to look into a more full-bodied and malty beer, as it will not be eclipsed by strong flavours. Additionally, the more malt in the beer, the better it pairs with spice, so that means these are great with hot dishes. A nice combination could be a Theakston Old Peculiar with a Jalfrezi curry. The rich fruity taste and black cherry aroma of this British Dark Ale will emphasise the complexity and spice of your dish without being taken over it. The Theakston Old Peculiar would also be ideal for any tomato or root vegetable based dish, as it would beautifully compliment their strong umami flavours.
If you would rather eat something like spiced steak or any kind of seared meat, you might want to try Sapporo. This Japanese beer has a malty aroma and a very crisp and clean finish, which pairs wonderfully with the intense flavour of grilled or seared meats. For a vegan twist you could also pair it with a mushroom based dish as the earthy tones would marry well with the dryness of this beer.
Obviously, this article was a list of suggestions. There are many other beers and numerous other Indian dishes that would pair very well together. And if you decide to pair a Pale Ale with a spicy dish, all the power to you. These are a few of our favourites pairings. We hope this article gave you some good ideas and will take you on a great beer and Indian food tasting journey. Bon appétit!