Curry is among my favorite dishes, despite not being Indian – and that is largely thanks to its impressive adaptability that allows you to make it with a wide range of flavors and ingredients.
However, it is not a dish you eat every day, and you may worry about its preservation when you need to store some of it in your fridge or pantry.
How long does curry last, then? The time it takes for your curry dish to remain fresh depends on several factors and varies on where you store it; although the consensus it takes to remain fresh is between 2 and 4 days.
A curry stew that has gone bad can make you sick due to its ingredients, not to mention leaving a bad impression on your taste buds – so it is always helpful to know what to expect in terms of curry shelf life and what you can do to minimize spoilage.
What is Curry?
You may be surprised to find out that the term “curry” does not refer to a specific dish, but refers to several types of gravy or sauces.
In most cases, you use a heavy dose of spices to cook the dish from meat and vegetables in a pan and pour over rice, usually Basmati rice.
Since it can use different ingredients, it can be as spicy or as mild as you prefer.
It originated in southern India, and its name comes from the Tamil word for sauce, “Kari”.
Its date of origin is unclear, although there is archeological evidence showing the use of spices on the Indian subcontinent dates back to 2500 BCE.
Curry has numerous health benefits because of its spices including turmeric, black pepper, chili powder, and coriander.
These benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, improvement of heart health, powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, and improving feelings of fullness that assist in the regulation of food intake.
How Long Does Curry Last? Does Curry Go Bad?
Yes, curry can go bad.
The time it takes for the curry to go bad will mainly depend on the preparation method, storage, and ingredients, although the overall consensus is that it takes between 2 and 4 days to go bad.
As a rule, using fresh spice ingredients result in the short shelf life of a few hours, while using dried spices allows the curry to last for a day or slightly longer.
However, the safest time to assume its freshness at room temperature is a maximum of 2 hours, with all-vegan curries such as broccoli and cabbage curry lasting up to 4 hours in the same conditions.
Meat curries like chicken curry will spoil the fastest, so ensure you do not leave them at room temperature beyond 1 to 2 hours.
If you are planning to store the curry and eat it on another day in the freshest state possible, your best option to use is the fridge.
If you decide to do so, it can last between 1 and 2 days, but you must pay attention to the storage conditions such as the container you use.
Ensure the container is clean, airtight, and has a lid, aluminum foil, or a plastic wrap cover, and keep the curry in the fridge once its temperature cools down.
Certain curry types can also last longer in the fridge – coconut milk curries such as black bean curry and chickpeas curry last between 2 and 4 days in the fridge, while tofu curries can remain fresh for up to a week.
On the other hand, freezers allow the curry to remain fresh for up to 6 months – although it will not taste as fresh.
If you keep it in this state, thaw it in your fridge overnight when you want to eat it and reheat it over low to medium stove heat.
How to Tell if Curry is Bad?
The good thing about curry is the ease of knowing whether it is good or not, because bad curry that has a strange taste will alert you that there is something wrong.
As curry dishes do not last long, there are certain signs to look out for before tasting the food, which includes:
You can hardly mistake the smell of fresh curry – the aroma is strong and flavorful.
Similarly, you may notice spoilt curry having a smell like sour milk, which should alert you to discard it immediately.
All odor changes are due to bacterial growth and multiplication, as these microorganisms produce waste as they feed on the food.
Fresh curry has a certain appearance and bright color to it, so an off appearance should be the first thing you notice.
If you see the color looking dull, throw it away immediately.
The color change occurs due to chemical reactions in the food when it is exposed to oxygen, as well as possible molding on the surface of the food – especially the rice you eat with the curry.
If your nose is having an off day and you cannot smell the food, you can try to touch the curry and notice its texture.
It should not feel slimy – if you rub some of it between your fingers and the response is a slimy texture, you must throw it away.
Blame the water content in the food for this, which leads to chemical reactions that facilitate the growth of bacteria that spoil the food.
Learning about curry and its preparation allows you to remember that it can go bad, although the rate of spoilage depends on several factors.
While it is a delicious meal that you can enjoy at any time of the year, the truth is that it tends to go bad very quickly because of its ingredients, especially if it consists of meat and fresh spices.
This article should give you some basic pointers on what to look for in a fresh curry, useful tips on storing it correctly, and the guidelines you need to follow when consuming it to ensure it is as fresh as possible.