We’ve all been there, looking at the curry menu. There’s plenty of choices when it comes to delicious curries, but which to go for? We don’t want something too mild but don’t want to go too spicy either. If this sounds familiar, then dopiaza might just be for you. In this article, we’ll answer the question, what is dopiaza curry? We’ll also tell you what it tastes like, its origins and how it is made.
Quick Answer| What is a Dopiaza Curry?
Dopiaza is a delicious curry with an onion-based sauce. Unlike some takeaway favourites that are Indian in origin, Dopiaza curry originates from Iran and Afghanistan. It isn’t a particularly spicy curry and is not famed for being ‘one of the hot ones’. That said, it does contain some chilli, so it isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘mild’ either.
It has notes of sweetness (but nowhere near as sweet as a dhansak or a pathia). It also has a slight tangy acidic taste.
Dopiaza is normally with chunks of meat. However, it can also be made into a vegetarian dish. If you are looking for a little heat and lots of flavours, then dopiaza is a really great choice.
What Does Dopiaza Mean?
The name ‘dopiaza’ will give you a really great clue as to its flavour. Loosely translated from Persian, do-piaza means ‘two onions’. This doesn’t mean that two onions are added to each and every portion!.. A better translation is more than likely ‘onions twice’ according to how the curry is made. With onions added at two stages in the cooking process.
You might read in certain places that the dish is so named because of a guy called Mulla Do-Piyaza… Who apparently made a mess in the kitchen and added too many onions by mistake. However, historical records indicate that this character is fictional and has nothing to do with the origins of this tasty curry.
What Ingredients Go into a Dopiaza?
As with most Indian dishes, dopiaza can be made in various ways, with each restaurant having its own variation. However, you’ll find that while the specifics might differ slightly, there are common elements in most versions of a dopiaza. They will include: -
Tender chunks of pre-cooked meat
- A significant amount of oil, or ghee.
- Garlic and Ginger
- Tomato paste
- Mild spices, like garam masala, curry powder and cumin
- Hot spice in the form of a little chilli powder
- An onion based gravy
- Fried onions
The last two ingredients are the key to this dish (and why it is so named). The base gravy forms the backbone of the sauce. It is further supplemented by the taste of caramelized crispy onions, added towards the end of the cooking process.
What Does Dopiaza Curry Taste Like?
Dopiaza is an exceptionally tasty curry. The double onions give it quite a strong taste. The tomato element isn’t too heavy. You’ll find that some restaurants add a squeeze of lemon juice to the dish. Some also add a little sugar to bring out the sweetness of the onions.
Most of the time, this curry is finished off with a small handful of chopped coriander, which also freshens the curry up slightly and makes it taste ever so slightly citrusy.
The dish features quite a lot of herbs and spices. The garlic and ginger are added early on and fried. This releases a sweetness in both ingredients, and you’ll be able to taste both in the dish with a slightly bitter note.
Garam masala and curry powder both feature heavily. They aren’t particularly hot, but your dish will be jam-packed full of ‘curry’ flavour.
A good dopiaza will be light brown in colour. It is nowhere near as thick or dark as a dish like a bhuna.
While the dish does feature tomato puree, unlike dishes like madras, it isn’t particularly tomatoey. There is only a small amount used in preparing dopiaza.
How Spicy is Dopiaza Curry?
Dopiaza curry wouldn’t traditionally be regarded as particularly ‘spicy’. On a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 is mild, and 10 is super-hot, we’d rate it as 4, or perhaps a 5 depending on local variations. It is slap bang in the middle of what most would consider a ‘medium’ curry.
A dopiaza recipe does contain chilli. This can be in the form of chilli powder or by added fresh chopped chillis (or both, ouch!).
In real terms of how hot a dopiaza is, we’d say it is the equivalent of a chilli con Carne or a sauce like sriracha. It certainly won’t blow your head off, but it might leave you with a bit of a runny nose.
What Curry is Similar to Dopiaza?
There are a few curries that are quite similar to dopiaza.
Suppose you are looking for curry dishes around the same level of spiciness as a dopiaza. In that case, a great choice could be a Rogan Josh or a Balti. Both use a little bit of chilli but aren’t widely regarded as super spicy dishes.
From a taste point of view again bhuna is a great choice. It is a little bit hotter than a dopiaza, but it also features an onion base. The gravy of a bhuna is slightly thicker than a dopiaza, but you’ll find that they taste kind of similar.
Another contender could be a madras. Again this features a predominant onion base. However, be warned. Madras is pretty fiery so if you don’t like spicy curry, give this one a miss.
What is the Tastiest Curry?
Dopiaza is right up there as one of the tastiest curries around and is a great choice if you want a little bit of spice and want to go big on flavour. Here are some other options you could consider if you want to eat something similar. I’ve organized them in heat from hottest to mildest… If you want to check out more about each curry, just give them a click, and I’ll explain what they are all about: -
What is a Dopiaza Curry? | Final Thoughts
If you are sat wondering what is a dopiaza curry, hopefully, you’ll now know the answer. A Dopiaza curry is a dish made with double the onions of most curries. In fact, that’s what the name literally means. It isn’t the hottest dish, but it certainly isn’t mild. If you want strong flavours with a little heat and plenty of sauce, it should be ideal. What’s your favourite curry? Let me know in the comments. I love hearing from you.
My favourite curry is definetly a Garlic Chilli, but I like a sweet note too. What can you suggest?
Hi Maria 🙂
Garlic Chilli? That’s pretty spicy! I’d probably go for something like either a Dhansak or a Pathia! They are both pretty sweet (and hot too)
Great information… Would like a dopiaza recipe please.