So when you buy curry , wether in Japanese or Indian style they will give you piping hot curry.

how do they maintain that temperature without incidentally reducing the water hereby making them more salty?

or do they have a vat of room temperature curry and only reheating the portion that'll be eaten?

  • 1
    lids? (and then characters to get this to minimum length)
    – Joe
    Jan 9 '19 at 16:18
  • @Joe Yes, lids help, but lids are taken off each time the sauce is dished out, so there will still be water loss. Jan 10 '19 at 13:49
  • 2
    @MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars : I'm not saying it stops it entirely, but it slows it down (and lets you have the heating element lower reducing the chance of scorching). You just have to slow it down enough so the food is used up before the evaporative loss gets to an unacceptable level. Evaportation while the lid is off will slow down additional evaporation (once the air is too humid in the container), and condensation on the lid will drip back in when the lid's disturbed, so you don't have to spend as much time estimating how much liquid to add back in.
    – Joe
    Jan 10 '19 at 14:03
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    I don't know about curry but a bunch of dishes are kept hot for days, simply by adding water every hour or so. Two traditional Polish dishes: Żurek and Bigos are said to be "the longer you cook them the better they get", and you just keep simmering and adding water to replace what's lost.
    – SF.
    Jan 14 '19 at 7:40
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    Żurek is it's a soup that gets thicker over time so you actually don't dilute, but maintain the volume and consistency by adding water - only occasionally adding some other ingredients, the base soured flour being all the same as in the beginning. Bigos, is a mostly solid stew, so you add enough water to replace evaporated, not what was served.
    – SF.
    Jan 14 '19 at 7:46

Many curry shops and other varieties of fast service restaurants and take out places will indeed keep a variety of broths, soups, stocks, and sauces hot during service hours.

Other components of the dish are kept cold, and heated when the dish is ordered. Some parts may need to be quickly cooked, then the broth added. A curry shop will do exactly this.

When you order a green curry with chicken, they will take a portion of chicken and some vegetables, sautee them until the vegetables are cooked and the chicken hot, then add the sauce. The sauce might be cold or hot, depending on how busy the place is.

Now, to really get to your question...

If a sauce or soup is kept warm for hours, you are exactly correct, it will reduce and get overly salty. There is a very easy fix!!! Add water !!! In any restaurant I have worked I would add water or stock throughout the service period. I would be tasting as needed and adjusting, but it just that simple. Add water. (or heavy cream for cream soup)

  • ok I understood so a degree of maintenance is still needed. those chicken and vegetables are chilled in 5C or below right, won't they get soggy? Jan 11 '19 at 2:59
  • @crescent_lunar the meat should be OK if cooked and quickly cooled. The veggies either have to be raw and cooked to order, or very carefully cooked until just done, then cooled. It is hard to get that right. Jan 14 '19 at 13:52

A takeaway lunch place I used to enjoy visiting kept their small range chilled (definitely not room temperature, that wouldn't be safe) and reheated to order. But that was somewhere that was expecting to serve quickly.

More often such dishes are assembled to order from components prepped as much as possible in advance and chilled. If the main ingredients are cooked beforehand, this is quick enough. A glance at the range of options on a typical curry menu would suggest that they'd need many containers of finished curries, but keeping the sauces and the meats separately chilled allows them to be combined into a wide range of options.

Dishes can be kept hot, typically something like 60-80C so not boiling. The low end is limited by food safety (and I'm not up to date on the exact numbers; there's also a maximum hold time) while the upper end is limited more by quality. Sauces can in theory be topped up with water but this isn't normally seen in practice.

  • "suggest that they'd need many containers of finished curries", I assume they are chilled curries on 5 degrees celcius or so? Jan 9 '19 at 7:58
  • also, are the meats chilled too? just for making it thorough Jan 9 '19 at 8:07
  • Off the top of my head I think the regulations are 2-5C here, but I'm only a home cook. The issue is that if they offer chicken, lamb, and mushrooms in mild, medium or hot, that's 9 containers of finished dish or 6 components (massive simplification of both menu and process). Some sauces start from very similar bases and the difference is in the parts of the dish that are freshly cooked.
    – Chris H
    Jan 9 '19 at 8:11
  • Yes, food safety regs are strict on keeping things chilled, and that definitely includes meat. We have questions that go into more detail about that side of things, including the time that things can be kept out of cold storage.
    – Chris H
    Jan 9 '19 at 8:16

I think they use a double boiler type of pan. So with the top pan holding the curry, there is warm/hot water underneath it keeping it hot. If they kept the water anywhere near boiling it would be plenty hot for the curry to stay warm but not boil over.

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