Milestone Curry #4: Red Wine and More Cocoa Powder

So my latest experiments led me to the conclusion that a richer Japanese Curry was possible if I used more cocoa powder and some red wine.  The Cocoa powder had already worked wonders and red wine was a known ingredient in some curries (along with fruit juices).  So here’s the latest – and as you may have guessed, it’s a milestone.

  • 4 tablespoons low-fat vegetable spread (I’m just going for this now since the goal is low sodium, low fat)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder. (S&B CURRY)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste.
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth OR replacement broth below
  • 1/2 cup red wine (shiraz and zinfandel are good)
  • 2 1/4 tsp cocoa powder (about 3/4 a tablespoon)

Broth Substitute (I didn’t really change the spice mixture so you may want to tone it down a tad – I used storebought broth this time)

  • 2 1/2 cups water.
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp thyme, ground
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dill weed, ground
  1. Melt the Spread over low heat in a pot of your choice.
  2. When the spread is melted, add the flour, curry powder, tomato sauce, soy sauce, maple syrup, cocoa powder, red pepper and black pepper. Mix thoroughly; I mash, fold, and mix until the color is consistent.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low.
  4. Now, you want to brown the roux, and there’s a bit of an art to it. What I do is let it cook like a pancake, about 20-45 second until one side browns, then mix it up, fold it into a “pancake” and let it cool again. You may have to play with the heat, but the goal is to basically brown it/fry it slowly. This is needed to develop the flavors.
  5. Eventually it will get crumbly and crack – and you’ll see it visibly brown when it’s let to sit.
  6. Add the vegetable broth and wine to the roux. Turn the heat up so the mixture boils mildly. Do this incrementally so you don’t overdo it or underdog it.
  7. While waiting for it to boil, and when it boils, with a whisk, mix the broth and roux. It also helps to use a spatula to crush chunks of roux against the side of the pan. This can take a bit of effort. In general while mixing, I moderate the heat to get the mild boil.
  8. Stir regularly so it doesn’t adhere/burn.
  9. I wait until the sauce thickets – it reduces by about a fifth. The key I use is when it’s not “boiling” but has the bubbly “bloops” of a thicker sauce. This can take awhile – I find it needs a minimum of 15 minutes, though between heat, time, size of pan, etc. it can vary.  Taking time is good as it also boils away the alchohol.
  10. Serve or put in freezer containers.

The result?

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Curry Diary 8/3/2013: Red Wine

So as noted earlier, I’ve got several servings of my Japanese Curry, and each time I make it I reheat it I try tweaking it with another ingreedient.  Today was red wine.

To do this I heated up about 1/4 cup of red wine (Rosemont Estate Shiraz if you’re curious), let it boil for about 10 minutes to get the alcohol out, added a bit more when it reduced more than I expected, and reheated the curry in the same pan, mixing it all together.

The color, obviously, ended up a bit darker.  But how did it taste?

This got interesting.

First, I think the taste of the wine amplified the spices.  Maybe it was the further cooking, but it was “more” than I’d expect that to do based on past experiences.

It did add a definite richness to the sauce, enough to impress me and make me think.  This may be a direction worth exploring.

Clearly a lot of Japanese curries use fruits or fruit juice components.  Also wine, like beer (and other alcohols, but mostly I see wine, beer, and sake used) has a very rich, unique taste due to the ingredients and fermentation progress.  That fruity taste combined with the richness of a fermented product was interesting – and richness has been what I’ve been seeking in my current stage of my quest for curry.

So I’m very much thinking next experiment I’m going to try a 2-to-one ratio of broth to wine and see how it goes.  I think going full-on-wine could really overdo it.  Also, obviously, there are many red wines to choose from so I’ll need to pick an appropriate one.

This also makes me wonder what wine-curry pairings could be done in other forms of cooking.  Dahl perhaps?  Or maybe red wine in one of my baked bean recipes could be delicious as that is spicy.

Very educational and worth trying.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at