Fancy a change from beer with your curry? The spices in whisky make it an ideal drink to accompany your favourite spice dish. Try the smoky blend Johnnie Walker Black or the super peaty Islay single malt Laphroaig with Chicken Tikka Masala for instance.
Whisky and curry go together remarkably well. The spicy notes – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, cloves among others – are central to the aroma and taste of many whiskies while a host of the other tastes you associate with your favourite curry can be found too. In whisky you’ll also find creamy smoothness (Korma dishes), smokiness (Tandoori), sweetness (Dhansak), vanilla (Kulfi), nuttiness (Pasanda), zestiness (Achari) aniseed (Goan fish dishes), as well as saltiness, fruitiness and slight oiliness.
There’s a lot of snobbery associated with whisky (as with wine) but just as you don’t choose your favourite beer with an elaborate performance of swirling, staring and sniffing nor do you have to do so with whisky either. See the boxes for some ideas of Indian dishes and whiskies but don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works for you. A few select whiskies and a selection of dishes from your favourite takeaway can make for a great night at home with friends.
Classic dishes and popular whiskies
• Butter chicken, with its creamy, tomato base works well with the vanilla smoothness of America’s favourite, Jack Daniel’s. No Coke!
• The strong and powerful smokiness of popular blend Johnnie Walker Black is needed to compete with the extra hot spiciness of Lamb Madras.
• Famous Grouse combines spiciness with sweetness (from its fruit tastes) something that fans of a Prawn Dhansak will recognise and enjoy.
• Biryanis are dry but highly aromatic and need a light and sweet whisky that will not fight the subtle aromas of whole spices used in the dish. Go for a Bell’s.
• Kormas or Pasandas, with their creamy and nutty tastes, both work well with the easy, smoothness of Ireland’s triple-distilled Jameson. Any idea why it’s a favourite for Irish coffees?
Advanced tasting menu
Starter: Onion bhaji and Glenkinchie 10 Year Old. A classic, simple starter of sliced onion and gram flour that deserves a gentle accompaniment and this Edinburgh whisky is light but has a touch of spice and ginger.
Lamb: Lamb Tikka and Caol Ila (pronounced Cal-le-la). The tandoor-cooked lamb needs something as strong and smoky as the single malt Caol Ila (it’s the lead whisky in Johnnie Walker Black) with its hint of pepper and spice.
Chicken: Achari Chicken and Tullamore Dew. This Irish blend offers spicy and lemon flavours, ideal if you like your chicken cooked in tangy pickles.
Vegetable: Mutter Paneer with Wild Turkey. The smoothness of the cheese needs a smooth whisky and this famous Kentucky Bourbon provides that, but also adds hints of spices including cinnamon.
The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.