Have you ever warmed up a curry for lunch the day after it was cooked and thought, God, this tastes better than yesterday? Well, the verdict is in: a curry really DOES taste better after spending a night in the fridge.
Why do leftovers taste better the next day?
A report from BBC Science Focus says that when your curry (or for that matter, stew or spaghetti bolognaise) is sitting on the shelf in your fridge, it’s getting more flavoursome by the minute even though it’s no longer on the stove, because the ingredients are still marinating and breaking down like they would in a super slow cook.
Over time, the flavour molecules have had time to diffuse into various parts of the food that's been simmered. Harsh overtones from the spices used mellow over time and different elements combine for a richer, more coherent result. Some people think this is just because the flavours from whole spices have more time to infuse (and larger chunks of vegetables and meat exchange flavours with the sauce base). This is true of all simmered or braised dishes, be they soups, chilis, stews or curries.
Meanwhile, the gelatine in meat (the stuff that makes it taste great) also continues to break down for about half an hour after it’s taken off the heat – which means it’s still cooking even after you’ve wolfed your first serving down.
“In the fridge, this will set to a firm jelly and when you reheat it, the gelatine melts to create a silky feel in the mouth,” the study says.
Who knew so many chemical reactions were happening inside the chilled white box to make food taste even tastier?
Most chefs would recommend a good curry or lasagne packed with spices as a leftover meal as the flavours are so much better the next day. Have you noticed if you scoop up a curry as soon as it comes out of the stove, it can be runny with the sauce looking thinner than it should be? But when you have it the next day, the sauce has had time to firm up and create an even richer taste.
And it’s not just curry!
The top five meals people thought were better as leftovers include curry, casserole, pizza chilli con carne and spaghetti bolognese.
So, if you’re looking for that secret ingredient that will turn a good curry into a great curry? Let it rest in the fridge overnight. It results in a thicker, full-bodied curry!
Who’s making a double serving of that curry tonight?