Table of Contents
- What is Curry?
- Quick Video about Curry
- More about Curry
- What were the British doing in India?
- How is curry used around the world?
- Top 10 things to know about ‘curry’
- Curry from around Asia
- Current usage of the word curry
What is Curry?
A common question that many from India and that part of the world, (and several other regions associated with Indian culture – like parts of Asia and elsewhere) will surely be asked – Do you eat curry?
Generally – the idea seems to be that it’s a dish and can have some slight variations – like pizza – with different toppings (probably not too good of an example – but just to give an idea).
It can be a very different based on where that curry is from, how and what is cooked and who is cooking it…
First, we need to understand where the origin of the current usage of the word curry came from – at least into the English language.
Quick Video about Curry
Below is just one take on it. Feel free to share your thoughts below.
That’s alright, but what is CURRY POWDER?
More about Curry
Curry is a staple dish in many countries around the world, but where did this beloved cuisine originate? The answer may surprise you.
Though curry has become widely popular across India and Asia, it actually originated in South India over 4,000 years ago!
This ancient dish was made using local spices including turmeric and pepper to create a flavorful blend that could be used on various dishes.
Curry can be made with a variety of meats, including chicken, goat, lamb, pork, shrimp, and fish. Vegetarian and vegan curries are also popular. The heat level can vary widely, from mild to extremely spicy, depending on the type and amount of chili peppers used in the recipe.
Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in many Indian and Sri Lankan curries, and coconut milk is a common ingredient in Thai curries, while yogurt or cream is often used in Indian curries to create a creamy texture.
As time went on, these spices were brought to other parts of the world by traders who had visited South Indian ports.
The word “curry” actually comes from the Tamil word “kari” meaning sauce. It was the British who popularized the word to describe all the spice-based dishes they encountered in India.
What were the British doing in India?
Traders – British East India Company
The British arrived in India in the 17th century as traders and eventually gained control over many parts of the country through the British East India Company.
Rulers – British East India Company
The British East India Company transformed from a trading company to a ruling power in India through a series of strategies.
They used military conquest, forming alliances with Indian rulers, gaining economic control, and exerting cultural influence. Military campaigns involved violence and brutality, exploiting existing conflicts between Indian states. The company established alliances often through corruption and coercion, while controlling Indian markets and imposing tariffs and simultaneously destroying indigenous industries beyond repair.
The British Raj – British Crown takes over
During the 19th century, British rule became more formalized, leading to the establishment of the British Raj. British rule brought economic, political, and social changes to India, including the introduction of new technologies, infrastructure, and governance systems for which they charged exorbitant rates of taxation to the Indian taxpayers.
And by design these developments allowed them to loot the country very efficiently, by extracting as much raw materials as they could, making profits at every step of the way.
Overall effect of British presence in India
The draconian British laws and policies caused several preventable famines in India which was self sufficient for centuries, thus leading to the starving death of dozens of millions during the British rule into India.
Thus, the British rule involved exploitation, discrimination, and violence, which had a significant impact on Indian society and culture. They promoted the English language, education, and Christianity, eroding traditional Indian culture and education systems. These strategies had long term detrimental effects on Indian society, industrial, agricultural, economic development and culture.
Indian nationalists and reformers started advocating for independence in the early 20th century. After years of struggle and resistance, India achieved independence in 1947, but alas, only after losing most of it’s fertile landmass, and countless lives again to separatist violence – thanks to the parting British gift of divide and rule.
How is curry used around the world?
Today curry can be found all over the globe with some of its most popular variations being found in Japan (curry rice), Thailand (green or red Thai curries) and Britain (the classic chicken tikka masala). In addition to these countries however there are also several others which have embraced this spicy delight.
Curries can be found in different forms all across South east asia and literally in places which are far flung across the globe.
The type of curry that is considered most famous would likely depend upon which region you ask – for example those from Southeast Asia might say green or red Thai curries while Indians might point towards traditional Indian varieties which again vary from region to region.
No matter what type it is though one thing remains certain: Curry holds an important cultural significance no matter where it’s enjoyed!
Top 10 things to know about ‘curry’
- Curry is not a specific dish or spice, but rather a term used to describe a variety of dishes that originate from different countries and cultures, including India, Thailand, Japan, and others.
- The word “curry” comes from the Tamil word “kari,” which means “sauce.” It was the British who introduced the word “curry” to describe the various spice-based dishes they encountered in India.
- The use of curry powder, a blend of spices commonly used in Western-style curries, is actually a Western invention. In India, most curries are made by blending spices together fresh for each dish.
- The heat level of a curry can vary widely, from mild to extremely spicy. The level of spiciness depends on the type and amount of chili peppers used in the recipe.
- Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in many Indian and Sri Lankan curries. These leaves come from the curry tree, which is native to India and Sri Lanka.
- Curry can be made with a variety of meats, including chicken, goat, lamb, pork, shrimp and fish. Vegetarian and vegan curries are also popular.
- Coconut milk is a common ingredient in Thai curries, while yogurt or cream is often used in Indian curries to create a creamy texture.
- In Japan, curry is a popular comfort food and is often served with rice or noodles. Japanese-style curry typically includes meat and vegetables, and is thicker and sweeter than Indian or Thai curries.
- Some curries, such as the British dish “chicken tikka masala,” are actually hybrid dishes that were created by combining elements of different cuisines.
- Curry has many potential health benefits, thanks to the various spices used in its preparation. For example, turmeric, a common ingredient in curry powder, contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has been used for a long long time in Indian cuisine.
Curry from around Asia
Curry is a term now used to describe a variety of dishes originating from different countries and cultures, including India, Thailand, Japan, and others. Despite its clearly Indian origins, curry has had a significant impact on the cuisine of many countries around the world.
Japanese curry (known as “karē” in Japanese) is a popular comfort food in Japan and is often served with rice or noodles.
Japanese-style curry typically includes meat and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions, and is thicker and sweeter than Indian or Thai curries.
The curry roux used in Japanese curry is made with a blend of spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon, but it is milder and sweeter than Indian curry.
Some popular Japanese curry dishes include katsu curry (served with breaded and fried pork or chicken), beef curry, and vegetable curry.
Burmese curries are known for their strong flavors and use of local spices, such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass.
One popular Burmese curry dish is “ohn no khao swè” a coconut milk-based chicken noodle soup that is flavored with a blend of spices, including turmeric, paprika, and chili powder.
Another popular Burmese curry is “amat hin” a spicy fish curry made with tomato, tamarind, and chili.
Malaysia and Singapore
Malaysian and Singaporean curries are heavily influenced by Indian cuisine, but they also incorporate local spices and ingredients, such as lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves.
One popular Malaysian curry dish is “rendang” a dry curry made with beef, chicken, or lamb that is flavored with a blend of spices and coconut milk.
Another popular Malaysian curry is “laksa” a noodle soup that can be made with a curry broth that is flavored with spices and coconut milk.
In Singapore, “curry laksa” is a popular dish that features a spicy coconut milk-based broth with noodles, seafood, and vegetables.
Indonesian curries are known for their complex flavors and use of local spices and ingredients, such as turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, and tamarind.
One popular Indonesian curry is “rendan” which is similar to the Malaysian version, but is usually spicier and more complex in flavor.
Another popular Indonesian curry is “gulai” a curry made with meat, fish, or vegetables that is flavored with a blend of spices and coconut milk.
In the Philippines, curries are not as commonly consumed as they are in other Southeast Asian countries, but there are some traditional Filipino curries.
One popular Filipino curry dish is “kare-kare” a peanut-based stew that is made with oxtail, beef, or pork, and is usually served with vegetables and rice.
Another popular Filipino curry is “ginataang manok” a chicken curry made with coconut milk and spices such as ginger and turmeric.
Thai curries are known for their bold and spicy flavors, and they often include a combination of meat, vegetables, and aromatic herbs.
Thai curries are typically made with a paste that includes ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, chili peppers, and shrimp paste.
Some popular Thai curries include green curry, red curry, and massaman curry.
Green curry is spicier than red curry and is made with green chili peppers, while red curry is milder and sweeter than green curry and is made with red chili peppers.
Massaman curry is a relatively mild curry that is flavored with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, and is often made with beef or chicken. Thai curries are typically served with rice or noodles.
Cambodian curries are characterized by their use of herbs such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal.
Fish amok is a popular Cambodian curry dish made with fish, coconut milk, and a blend of spices including turmeric, garlic, and chili.
Another popular Cambodian curry is kari sach ko, a beef curry flavored with lemongrass, ginger, and kaffir lime leaves.
Lao curries are known for their spiciness and often feature local ingredients such as buffalo meat and padaek, a fermented fish paste.
One popular Lao curry is “mok pa” a fish curry that is steamed in banana leaves with a blend of spices, including galangal, lemongrass, and chili.
Another popular Lao curry is “kaeng nor mai” a bamboo shoot curry that is typically made with pork and flavored with a blend of spices including garlic, ginger, and turmeric.
Current usage of the word curry
The term “curry” then spread to other parts of the world, and today, it is commonly used to refer to a range of South Asian-inspired dishes that are served in Western countries.
When people in western countries hear the word “curry” they often think of a spicy, flavorful dish that is made with a combination of spices and served with rice or bread.
Some common ingredients in Western-style curries include onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili peppers, although the exact spices used can vary depending on the recipe and the region.
In many western countries, “curry” is also associated with a particular type of restaurant or takeaway, where customers can order a variety of different curries to go.