Mention curry and images of exotic, spicy food comes to mind. In fact, curried dishes are so popular that there are books written about its amazingly, rich history. So it is my pleasure to feature several articles about the origins of popular authentic curried dishes and creative ways for you to use curry in your cooking.
What is curry? You'd be in the majority if you think curry is an Indian dish. But in actuality, curry is a perfect blend of a variety of spices mostly which include coriander cumin, fenugreek and the golden spice of turmeric, and is widely used in Indian and other south Asian cuisines. Depending on the recipe and region, additional ingredients such as ginger, garlic, fennel seed, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, green cardamom, black cardamom, mace, nutmeg, red pepper, long pepper, and black pepper may also be added to the mixture.
However, there is the curry leaf plant that is widely used as a flavoring for vegetables and is closely associated with authentic south Asian cuisine. The use of curry leaves dates back as far as the 1stcentury AD, and is still largely cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, Australia, the Pacific Islands and Africa to be used as a food flavoring.
So how did curry become such a phenomenon in the culinary world?
Curry is the stuff of legends, and most experts have agreed on the origins being from the Tamil word ÿkari meaning spiced sauce. During the British rule of India in the 19thand 20thcenturies, the term, curry, was adapted and accepted by the British Raj. With conquests of new lands and colonization taking place, migrations and trade patterns also played a major role in bringing forth new influences to bear on how people cooked and the ingredients they used. There was a huge demand for workers from the sub-continent all the way to the west and as far south as South Africa. And when those laborers traveled away from their homes for long periods of time, they brought with them their favorite curried powders and paste so they could enjoy their authentic dishes.
As the nineteenth century dawned, the only eating establishments offering Indian cuisine were community meeting places for those who had jumped ship in London looking for a new life or, as life would have it, they'd been put ashore without any means of support. Some of these were Vandary (Indian chefs) who sought out work in London's growing restaurant community. But as destiny would have it, eventually the impetus for a new cuisine had taken place, and so on the meteoric popularity of curried dishes soared beyond all borders. In the late 60's little Indian restaurants began popping up and the appetite for curried cuisine quickly caught the interests of the westerners. A testament to that fact, would be the Chicken Tikka Masala which is now deemed the national dish of the United Kingdom. But, no matter what city, state or country you are living -- there is a curried dish for all taste-buds.
Next week, I'll present more about the authentic curried dishes from history's past love affair with south Asian dishes.
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For now, here are some of my favorite curry recipes. Just click on the link for the full description: