Curry

  • Curry
  • Curry
  • Curry

Description

Most people in the world today know what a curry is - or at least think they do. In Britain the term ‘curry’ has come to mean almost any Indian dish, whilst most people from the sub-continent would say it is not a word they use, but if they did it would mean a meat, vegetable or fish dish with spicy sauce and rice or bread. Curry leaves are a plant with small, dark green leaves (about 1 inch long) that give a mild flavor to Indian food; usually used fresh, not dried; they are sometimes included in Curry Powder, but do not give Curry Powder its name.

Curry powder is largely composed of turmeric. Turmeric is the source of Curcumin, among many other compounds. The other spices and herbs in curry powder, almost every one, are known from early times for improving mental functioning ("for getting rid of vapours in the braynes"). Curry powder offers a pleasant, easy way to add these vitally important substances to one's diet. A good teaspoon of curry powder (yes, the kind in the supermarket) per pound of meat and/or vegetables in any recipe will make that dish into a mild "curry".

Uses

‘Curry’ is synonymous with Indian food and ‘curry powder’ is thought of as its key ingredient. This is a misconception though, as all Indian food does not contain 'curry powder'. This all-important powder is actually a mix of spices collectively known as garam masala. It is added to some dishes along with other spices to enhance their flavor and aroma. While the basic ingredients used are the same, each household has its own proportions so that the end result will often differ from home to home. The better the quality of the ingredients, the tastier the garam masala and the resulting dish in which it is used.

Most Indians still prefer to prepare their own garam masala just prior to cooking. Making your own can seem intimidating if you’re just starting out with Indian cooking, but the recipe and a good coffee grinder is all it takes! There’s nothing to beat the flavor of fresh garam masala!

Use less to enhance the natural flavors of your dishes without dominating them. Best is to simply keep curry powder at the table and sprinkle it lightly onto your food --- it is already roasted, and blends well with many savory dishes such as soups, omelettes, meats, vegetables, rice, pasta, etc.

History

The origin of the word itself is the stuff of legends, but most pundits have settled on the origins being the Tamil word ‘kari’ meaning spiced sauce. In his excellent Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson quotes this as a fact and supports it with reference to the accounts from a Dutch traveller in 1598 referring to a dish called ‘Carriel’. He also refers to a Portuguese cookery book from the seventeenth century called Atre do Cozinha, with chilli-based curry powder called ‘caril’.

In her ‘50 Great Curries of India’, Camellia Panjabi says the word today simply means ‘gravy’. She also goes for the Tamil word ‘kaari or kaaree’ as the origin, but with some reservations, noting that in the north, where the English first landed in 1608 then 1612, a gravy dish is called ‘khadi’.

Pat Chapman of Curry Club fame offers several possibilities:- ‘karahi or karai(Hindi)’ from the wok-shaped cooking dish, ‘kari’ from the Tamil or ‘Turkuri’ a seasonal sauce or stew.

The one thing all the experts seem to agree on is that the word originates from India and was adapted and adopted by the British Raj.

Health Benefits

India has very low incidence of Alzheimers Disease. The research indicates that curcumin, a component of turmeric found in most curry powders, is the protective agent. Curcumin has also been proven effective in killing cancer cells. Curry powder's other main spices have long been known to give mental clarity.

Some unpleasantness may be noticed if one suffers from advanced gall bladder trouble, since curry powder stimulates the gall bladder. Also, if one uses too much right at the table, it might upset the stomach.

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