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How to fix curry when it is too sweet

Curries and other Asian-inspired food have long been firm favourites in the UK. Keen cooks enjoy attempting to replicate, or even improve upon, restaurant dishes. Occasionally things don't go quite as planned, and the curry that you have spent so long preparing tastes disappointingly sweet. Don't worry – there are ways of remedying the situation.

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Remember that the basic premise of Asian cooking is a delicate balance of sweet and sour ingredients; for example, chillies, limes and tamarind paste provide sourness, while onions, tomatoes and coconut contribute sweetness. When your curry tastes over-sweet, it needs re-balancing by adding extra sourness. One of the following options will rescue your dish.

  1. Add a little sea salt, ¼ tsp at a time. Stir well and taste as you go. It is possible that's all the curry needs to regain the right degree of sourness.

  2. Pour in ½ tbsp of lemon or lime juice, stir and then taste. If the curry is starting to taste better, add a little more until it's just right.

  3. Add in ½ tsp of tamarind paste. You will need to make sure it is stirred in really well as, being a sticky paste, it takes a while to be fully incorporated. Add more as necessary. Tamarind paste is very sour and is a very useful store cupboard standby if you make a lot of curries.

  4. Chop up finely 1 tbsp of pickled hot jalapeño peppers and stir into the curry. While not an authentic Asian ingredient, they will add the sourness you need.

  5. Tip

    If you don't have any tamarind paste, lime pickle is a good substitute. Chop the pieces of lime before adding to the curry.

    Should the curry become too sour, simply add in one of the sweeter ingredients already used, such as coconut cream or even honey.

    If the dish is too hot, spoon in a little plain yoghurt or crème fraîche.


    Do not put your hands anywhere near your face when chopping jalapeño peppers. Wash hands thoroughly or wear gloves while chopping.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sea salt
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • Tamarind paste
  • Pickled hot jalapeño peppers

About the Author

Beverley Gee began her freelance writing career in 1982. She earned a National Diploma in information technology and business studies at Coleg Glan Hafren, Cardiff, U.K. She has written for several U.K. publications including the "South Wales Echo" and her local newspaper, "The Diary." She is also a qualified reflexologist.

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