Wine for Indian Food
Since I’m half-Indian and a sommelier, my friends are always asking me what wine to pair with Indian dishes. My favorite go-to wine for Indian food is a German Riesling at the Spätlese quality level. Spätlese means “late-harvest” – the grapes are picked in mid-September when they’re riper with higher potential sweetness. Riesling is a great match for Indian food because it has enough flavor and body to match the heavy curry sauces. Also, sweet beats heat. The sweetness of Spätlese Riesling works to tame the spiciness of the food. Don’t dismiss German Riesling because of the slight sweetness! The sugar is usually perfectly balanced by zippy acidity and complements so many flavorful cuisines.
This past weekend I made my mother’s Indian Chicken Curry (her easy Americanized recipe is below) and paired it with a German Riesling Spätlese from the Nahe region. The wine pretty much has one of the longest names you’ll ever see on a label – 2007 Donnhoff Schlossbockelheimer Kupfergrube Riesling Spätlese. Donnhoff is the wine producer and is arguably one of the best producers, if not the best, in Germany. They only make a small quantity of wine so it’s hard to find – but when you find it, snap it up! Schlossbockelheimer is the town. Kupfergrube is the vineyard (known for producing spicy, ripe wines). The pairing worked.
Here’s my mother recipe, an easier adaptation of my Aunt Indu’s traditional Indian recipe – my mother’s recipe has less ingredients, less chopping but just as much flavor. Enjoy!
Cheryl’s Chicken Curry
- 6-8 skinned chicken thighs/legs
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 2 medium onions
- 1 can (14.5-16 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp each turmeric, curry powder, American chili powder, garam masala
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, powdered ginger, ground allspice
- salt, red pepper and black pepper as desired
- Skin chicken
- Put oil in pot and heat to a medium temperature
- Fry onions till brown, about 8-10 mins
- Add turmeric and curry powder then fry for 1 minute
- Add tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes
- Add chicken and cook for 30 minutes
- Now add cinnamon, ginger, chili powder, salt, allspice, red pepper, black pepper and garam masala
- Turn down heat to a low simmer, cook for another 30 minutes