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Pairs: Beer & Indian cuisine

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Indian cuisine’s famous for its heat, but a cool brew draws out exotic flavors.

pairings by Sean Z. Paxton

Chicken Tikka Masala & Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

This classic Indian chicken dish slathered in spicy cream best adopts a beer that quiets the heat and finds its voice in the heavy sauce. The dish’s turmeric, paprika and ginger spice add zest to a rich cream and tomato-paste base; a rye-based pale’s peppery zip and prickly texture tango with the tingling spice, while the beer’s grapefruit adds a citrus dimension to the dish. The sauce’s richness masks the beer’s astringency, while the cool, clean liquid tames the heat between bites.  ALSO TRY: Boulevard Rye-on-Rye, Two Brothers Cane & Ebel

Aloo Baigan & Nøgne Ø Dugges Sahti

Tealike brews such as Sahti are full of unusual tastes, so sipping the brew with Aloo Baigan, a yellow vegetable curry over white rice, is a high-entry point pairing. Turmeric, coriander and cumin collide with the beer’s fruity juniper, culminating in a mouthful of equally stated, exotic flavors. The beer’s floral swells calm the heat, and its creaminess tempers both the thickness and saltiness of the dish. The tongue’s saturated for sure, but the pair finishes simple and sweet as honey sticks to the palate. ALSO TRY: Goose Island Sahti, Dogfish Head Sah’Tea

Kheer with Almonds and Pistachios & Steel Toe Milk Stout

Kheer is a simple dessert made with Basmati rice, milk and sugar, and often ornamented with fruit or nuts. Here, a milk stout’s lactose sugar complements the milk-based treat, while the brew’s roast injects robustness into the bite. Almonds and pistachios shine against the beer’s espresso flavors, like a flavored coffee. Texturally, the dish and the beer are creamy; together, they’re a rich way to end a meal. ALSO TRY: Lancaster Milk Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout

Saag Chicken & Michelob Shock Top Belgian White

With creamy spinach, coconut milk and green onions, this dish is thick and earthy; a slightly sweet beer brightens the palate. Saag chicken’s dense texture coats the mouth, so the beer’s sharp wheat slices the heavy sauce but still leaves room for the earthy, spicy notes to shine. The full-bodied beer pulls the flavors off the tongue, and its juicy orange sweetness lingers pleasantly after the swallow. ALSO TRY: Allagash White, Sterkens White Ale

Naan with Yogurt & SweetWater Georgia Brown

This beer’s toasty flavors and bready malt base meld with chewy, yeast-leavened naan for a simple, perfectly complementary bite. The sour cucumber-yogurt sauce sings above the brown ale’s well-matched toasty base, making this beer an excellent backdrop for the sauce’s more delicate flavors. ALSO TRY: Big Sky Moose Drool, Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale

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