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There are many varieties of curry. The choice of spices for each dish in traditional cuisine depends on regional cultural tradition and personal preferences. Such dishes have names that refer to their ingredients, spicing, and cooking methods.[6] Outside the Indian subcontinent, a curry is a dish from Southeast Asia which uses coconut milk or spice pastes, commonly eaten over rice.[7] Curries may contain fish, meat, poultry, or shellfish, either alone or in combination with vegetables. Others are vegetarian. Dry curries are cooked using small amounts of liquid, which is allowed to evaporate, leaving the other ingredients coated with the spice mixture. Wet curries contain significant amounts of sauce or gravy based on broth, coconut cream or coconut milk, dairy cream or yogurt, or legume purée, sautéed crushed onion, or tomato purée.


Curry is an anglicised form of the Tamil கற kaṟi meaning 'sauce' or 'relish for rice' that uses the leaves of the curry tree (Murraya koenigii).[8][self-published source?][9] The word kari is also used in other Dravidian languages, namely in Malayalam, Kannada and Kodava with the meaning of "vegetables (or meat) of any kind (raw or boiled), curry".[10] Kaṟi is described in a mid-17th century Portuguese cookbook by members of the British East India Company,[11] who were trading with Tamil merchants along the Coromandel Coast of southeast India,[12] becoming known as a "spice blend ... called kari podi or curry powder".[12] The first appearance in its anglicised form (spelled currey) was in Hannah Glasse's 1747 book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.[9][11]

The British lumped all sauce-based dishes under the generic name 'curry'.[6][19] It was introduced to English cuisine from Anglo-Indian cooking in the 17th century, as spicy sauces were added to plain boiled and cooked meats.[20] Curry was first served in coffee houses in Britain from 1809, and has been increasingly popular in Great Britain, with major jumps in the 1940s and the 1970s.[21] During the 19th century, curry was carried to the Caribbean by Indian indentured workers in the British sugar industry. Since the mid-20th century, curries of many national styles have become popular far from their origins, and increasingly become part of international fusion cuisine.[22]

India is the home of curry, and many Indian dishes are curry-based, prepared by adding different types of vegetables, lentils, or meats. The content of the curry and style of preparation vary by region. Most curries are water-based, with occasional use of dairy and coconut milk. Curry dishes are usually thick and spicy and are eaten along with steamed rice and a variety of Indian breads. The popular rogan josh, for example, from Kashmiri cuisine, is a wet curry of lamb with a red gravy coloured by Kashmiri chillies and an extract of the red flowers of the cockscomb plant (mawal).[23] Goshtaba (large lamb meatballs cooked in yoghurt gravy) is another curry dish from the Wazwan tradition occasionally found in Western restaurants.[24]

Curries in Bengali cuisine include seafood and fresh fish. Mustard seeds and mustard oil are added to many recipes, as are poppy seeds. Emigrants from the Sylhet district of Bangladesh founded the curry house industry in Britain, while in Sylhet some restaurants run by expatriates specialise in British-style Indian food.[25]

Curry spread to other regions of Asia. Although not an integral part of Chinese cuisine, curry powder is added to some dishes in the southern part of China. The curry powder sold in Chinese grocery stores is similar to Madras curry powder but with addition of star anise and cinnamon.[26] The former Portuguese colony of Macau has its own culinary traditions and curry dishes, including Galinha à portuguesa and curry crab. Portuguese sauce is a sauce flavoured with curry and thickened with coconut milk.[27]

Curry was popularized in Korean cuisine when Ottogi entered the Korean food industry with a curry powder in 1969.[32][33] Korean curry, usually served with rice, is characterized by the golden yellow colour of turmeric. Curry tteokbokki is made of tteok (rice cakes), eomuk (fish cakes), eggs, vegetables, and curry. Curry can be added to Korean dishes such as bokkeumbap (fried rice), sundubujjigae (silken tofu stew), fried chicken, vegetable stir-fries, and salads.

Malaysian cuisine may have initially incorporated curries via the Indian population, but it has become a staple among the Malay and Chinese populations there. Malaysian curries typically use turmeric-rich curry powders, coconut milk, shallots, ginger, belacan (shrimp paste), chili peppers, and garlic. Tamarind is also often used. Rendang, which is originated from Minang, is drier and contains mostly meat and more coconut milk than a conventional Malaysian curry; it was mentioned in Malay literature in the 1550s by Hikayat Amir Hamzah.[34]

In Burmese cuisine, curries are broadly called hin. Burmese curries generally consist of protein that is simmered in a curry base of aromatics including shallots, onions, ginger, and garlic, alongside dried spices like turmeric, paprika, and garam masala. Burmese curries generally differ from other Southeast Asian curries in that dried spices are also used commonly to season the dishes, while coconut milk is only used sparingly for select dishes.

In the Philippines, two kinds of curry traditions are seen corresponding with the cultural divide between the Hispanicised north and Indianised/Islamised south. In the northern areas, a linear range of new curry recipes could be seen. The most common is a variant of the native ginataang manok (chicken cooked in coconut milk) dish with the addition of curry powder, known as the "Filipino chicken curry". This is the usual curry dish that northern Filipinos are familiar with. Similarly, other northern Filipino dishes that can be considered "curries" are usually ginataan (cooked with coconut milk) variants of other native meat or seafood dishes such as adobo, kaldereta, and mechado, that simply add curry powder or non-native Indian spices.[35]

Consumption of curry spread to South Africa with the migration of people from the Indian subcontinent to the region in the colonial era. African curries, Cape Malay curries and Natal curries include the traditional Natal curry, the Durban curry, bunny chow, and roti rolls. South African curries appear to have been founded in both KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, while other curries developed across the country over the late 20th century and early 21st century to include ekasi, coloured, and Afrikaner curries.[37] Durban has the largest population of Indians outside of India in the world.[38] Bunny chow or a "set", a South African standard, consists of either lamb, chicken or bean curry poured into a tunnelled-out loaf of bread to be eaten with one's fingers by dipping pieces of the bread into it.[37][38]

Curry is very popular in the United Kingdom, with a curry house in nearly every town.[39][40] Such is the popularity of curry in the United Kingdom, it has frequently been called its "adopted national dish".[41] It was estimated that in 2016 there were 12,000 curry houses, employing 100,000 people and with annual combined sales of approximately 4.2 billion.[42]

The food offered is Indian food cooked to British taste, but with increasing demand for authentic Indian styles. As of 2015, curry houses accounted for a fifth of the restaurant business in the U.K. but, being historically a low wage sector, they were plagued by a shortage of labour. Established Indian immigrants from South Asia were moving on to other occupations; there were difficulties in training Europeans to cook curry; and immigration restrictions, which require payment of a high wage to skilled immigrants, had crimped the supply of new cooks.[43]

"Curry powder", as available in certain western markets, is a commercial spice blend, and first sold by Indian merchants to European colonial traders. This resulted in the export of a derived version of Indian concoction of spices.[44] and commercially available from the late 18th century,[45][46] with brands such as Crosse & Blackwell and Sharwood's persisting to the present.[47] British traders introduced the powder to Meiji Japan, in the mid-19th century, where it became known as Japanese curry.[48]

Curry is one of the most famous meals in Indian cuisine and never disappoints, especially if you have time and make some homemade. Intrigued? Read on as we decode curry for you in this comprehensive curry guide.

However, the truth is that no one really knows when curry was invented or started to be used in Indian cooking. What one knows is that the use of spices in a sauce to flavor meats has been traced back to 2500 BCE from Mohenjo-Daro. Archaeological evidence further showcases the use of a mortar and pestle to pound spices including mustard, fennel, cumin, and tamarind pods, with which food was flavored.

From there, it is thought that curries were spread across Asia and Europe via Indian monks traveling the Silk Route. Curries were also influenced by new world explorers from Spain and Portugal that brought chili peppers to India, prior to which the most pungent ingredient in curries was black pepper. The expansion of curries throughout Asia was further accelerated by the British that introduced Indian curries to Japan and hence one can say that the curry traveled to all British conquests.

This modern version was concocted and brought to Britain from India by soldiers returning home during the British rule of India. The idea was to mix the common ingredients that went into making the most popular versions of Indian curry and achieve the same taste on the British soil. 041b061a72

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