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About Curry- Curry Isn't Very Authentic.

posted May 19, 2011, 11:45 AM by Dustin Romero   [ updated Nov 9, 2011, 4:56 PM ]

Okay, I know. A let down for all. Especially those of us who like to prefer ourselves open minded and cultured. Curry is not an Indian dish, nor for that matter is it an Indian spice.  In this post I'm going to explain of sorts what curry actually is. The first thing that you have to realize is that our understanding of Indian food is largely an importation of Indian influence into the global culture. With that frame of reference we can begin to talk about what curry actually is.

The word curry comes from the Tamil word, Kari, meaning gravy, or sauce. The use of the term curry however is largely Western and has it's roots in British Colonialism. Curry is used to describe dishes usually of Indian origin containing meat and/or vegetables in a spice blend and sauce. Think then of our dishes like chicken curry, or coconut curry. This means they are actually just a blend of spices in a gravy, in this case with either coconut and/or chicken.

So if that's all curry is, then what is curry powder? Or curry leafs? Many curries contain the leafs of the curry tree, and although this is common and authentic, there is no such leaf, spice or herb in curry powder. Curry powder is a blend of spices that we've come to associate with curry. Although the spices range widely the most common used in curry powder are turmeric, coriander and cumin.

In fact, curry powder is actually a type of masala, or spice blend. Indian chefs often develop their own masala to give their curries a unique and trademark flavor, however they will make adjustments. The changes in the masala will be to help with digestion, blend with other ingredients or even to warm you up on a cold day or cool you down in the summer. So with masala in mind, think of the dish Chicken Tikka Masala. Or what if we just called our mushroom curry mushroom masala?

So there you have it. Right from the mouth of those claiming the name "Curryer." We're not making authentic curry, but we are making authentic Indian cuisine that we've all lovingly come to know as "curry" and for us that's just fine, we see it as a celebration of the mingling of cultures.

Photo provided by My Spice Sage: http://www.myspicesage.com/