Firstly, I have noticed all the curried dishes we eat in an Indian restaurant feel "creamy".
Now, I don't know whether they add cream, or yogurt, or coconut milk?

In which kinds of dishes do we need which kind of substance to make it creamy?

  • well can i clarify when to prefer(at what time the substance should be added)or what to prefer(which substance to be preffered)? Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 14:56

4 Answers 4


Rule of thumb, dairy in the north and coconut in southern recipes. ie korma wouldn't have coconut

Indian yogurt is made with whole milk. As with western recipes, balancing the fat for good mouth-feel is important: yogurt can be a good choice when a larger quantity of liquid is called for. Cream works great when a finishing splash smooths out flavors without watering down

Acidity is also important. Does the dish need a tangy component or a softening of acids? A dish could use both: yogurt marinade then a bit of cream to finish.

For richness and a hint of sweetness along with a wonderful aroma, coconut can't be beat but will be a discernable flavor in most curries. Many restaurants are making use of coconut where it is less than traditional with good results.

  • 1
    Also, OP could be taking silkiness in a curry for creaminess: a good masala imparts this mouth-feel without added cream. The Curry Club (Pat Chapman) explains the process beautifully. Briefly, sauteed onions and tomato with seasoning are pureed extremely smooth; this sauce is used to simmer off a spiced/fried main ingredient.
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 18:27
  • Your answer was helpful - thanks. I used to puree onions and tomatoes in all my dishes long time back. It results in "thick" and "smooth" gravy. In this question I am talking of "creamy" effect. Both cases are NOT same. Besides, I was talking of Punjabi dishes like "Shahi Paneer" etc (North India). Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 8:45
  • Glad it was helpful. I have cut amount of coconut milk in half using a masala gravy and it has fooled people. Your right, both are not same.
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 19:06

Well, first I would like to answer this questions in two ways: when we add substances to make the cuisine creamy, and what to be added when cuisine is prepared.

  1. When we add substance to make cuisine creamy:

    While preparing North Indian/South Indian dishes (like kurma and other items) we used to add the coconut milk while the specific dish gets boiled. Usually coconut milk will be mixed with yeast.

  2. What kind of substance to make cuisine creamy:

    For liquid food items (e.g kurma) add the coconut milk with little yeast, and for dishes like biryani add the coconut oil with spicy items to make the cuisine better.

  • 4
    having hard time understanding coconut and yeast...
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 19:51

The creamy texture for Indian dishes like Shahi Paneer, Chicken Mughlai etc can be arrived by adding pureed nuts like cashews and almonds to these dishes.


Firstly, an awful lot depends on exactly what you mean by the term 'creamy'. Can you be more specific about what you mean by this term?

Secondly, you mention 'Indian Restaurants', but you don't say where these restaurants are located, are you referring to ones located in India? Geographically, Indian restaurants will vary, depending on where they're located.

Thirdly, is there a specific dish you're referring to here?

Ideally, I need clarification on those points before I can answer your question, but from my own interpretation of what you mean it has nothing to do with cream, yogurt or coconut milk.

As Pat Sommer rightly points out, the smooth 'creamy' like texture you find prevalent in many if not all India Restaurant dishes is a result of 'base sauce' of pureed onions and other ingredients.

Pretty much all commercial Indian restaurants will use some form of 'base sauce or gravy' as the basis for most of their dishes. To this are added other specific ingredients specific to the dish. Some restaurants will have more than one base sauce some will add pureed lentils etc., but the base sauce itself it's predominantly made from fried and simmered onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and spices, water and then pureed.

It's this 'base sauce' I believe you're referring to which is giving the 'creamy' texture to the dish you refer to in your question.

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