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What is curry?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Just had a friend ask me, "What's curry?"

I couldn't answer. There's Thai, Indian, Singaporean, etc etc. And even within any "curry country" there are so many variations.

Is it any dish where a complex mix of spices is the theme? I know what curry is to me, and my experience is limited since I haven't visited every place where something "curry"is made.

Forget the curry powder. What is curry?
post #2 of 21
to curry flavor?
ok, sorry, that was worth a groan
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #3 of 21
Check out Ian Hemphill's "Spice Bible", he gives quite a history on curries--well on just bout every spice and herb
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking that the use of the word "curry" somehow comes from British colonies or British history. My question is not so much what curry means in different places, but what brought about so many places calling their spicy saucy dishes curry. It can't be strictly a Thai word, Malaysian, Indian or whatever. The common theme seems to be a spicy stew. The word itself has been used for so many different things. Even a certain lame compromising version of Indian spices that you can buy stale in a jar.

I grew up in India and I thought curry was any of 1000 varieties of Indian curry. Apparently not. It's even a lot bigger than that.

I won't lose any sleep over this, but if I could figure it out it would be cool.
post #5 of 21
The Wikipedia article on curry strikes me as reasonably good.
post #6 of 21
I buy kari leaves (pronouned curry, sort of) for putting in Indian dishes.
post #7 of 21
Curry is the English description of any of a general variety of spiced dishes, best known in Asian Cuisines, especially South Asian cuisine. Curry is a generic term, and although there is no one specific attribute that marks a dish as "curry", some distinctive spices used in many, though certainly not all, curry dishes include turmeric, cumin, coriander, fengureek, and red pepper. The word curry is generally believed to be an anglicized version of the Tamil word kari. It is usually understood to mean "gravy" or "sauce", rather than "spices".

It should be kept in mind that the curry served at Indian restaurants in Western countries is not the same as the staple diet for an average Indian family. While retaining similar ingredients used in these restaurants, curries prepared in South Asian homes are considered leaner and healthier by people from these parts. Also, it's incorrect to assume that curry is the most important constituent of a South Asian meal. Indian Cuisine, in fact, is one of the most diverse cuisines in the world, and curry is just a part of it. That being said, curry's popularity in recent decades has spread outward from the Indian subcontinent to figure prominently in international cuisine. Consequently, each culture has adopted spices in their indigenous cooking, to suit their own unique tastes and cultural sensibilities. Curry can therefore, be called a pan-Asian or global phenomenon, with immense popularity in Thai, British and Japanese cuisines.

Read more at: Curry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
post #8 of 21
There are all different kinds of sauces and gravies(curry's) India for example uses heavy tumeric in theirs . It may also be noted that in specific neiborhood in India there are different kinds>In fact every family makes theirs differently. Asiatic countries make red, white, green and more different types. In any event most of the assorted ones I have had are spicy but in different ways. They were all good.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #9 of 21
curry is what ever u say it is in the context of the conversation and meaning/communication desired.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
In other words, there is no definition, eh? :crazy:
post #11 of 21
well there are, but it just depends on what u are talking about!
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
I grew up in India, and when i heard about other countries making curry, I thought it was an imitation of Indian curry. Later I learned that is not at all true, even if they started as imitations of Indian curry, which I doubt is the case. There's an argument that "curry" is originally an English (as in the country England, not meaning the English language) term for "cuisine" or something like that; I wish I could find that reference, but I forgot where it is.
post #13 of 21
i think most curries in other places are there because of indian influence

they have rotis in thailand too, and in trinidad they have gulab jamun and prasad, barfi and kulfi etc etc etc...

i tihnk kenya and uganda have curries (east indians living there) maybe tanzania too. then sri lanka, thailand, pakistan, jamaica, suriname, guyana, st vincent, barbados.......

all these places have curry and indian food as a result of indians

france austria and italy use curry powder but it is because of spice trade andnot indentured servants or immigrants...
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
One example of why I don't necessarily agree with this, is that Thai curry is nothing like Indian curry.

Edit: I guess I should say, the Thai curry I have had is nothing like any Indian curry I have had.
post #15 of 21
yeah u are right, but there are still similarities, like the chauncing (sakaying???)
of similar spices (and different ones) in hot fat

and the coconut milk too (not to say that all indian "curry" dishes have coocnut milk, or all thai curries...)
post #16 of 21
I think that as "curries" were developing the influence went both ways. All these Southeastern Asian countries have very old cultures and trade among them have been ongoing for hundreds, if not thousands of years. While India may have influenced many of these other countries, these other countries also influenced India and provided them with foods and spices that were then incorporated into what we now call "Indian" cuisine.

As for the original post, sure there is a definition for curry, but it is not a short and simple definition. According to Webster's the word curry, when used in the context of food is derived from the Tamil word Kari. It then goes on to define curry as "a food, dish, or sauce in Indian cuisine seasoned with a mixture of pungent spices." I think we can all agree that that is a rather good definition but way too simplistic to really cover a word as broad as "curry." I think it is impossible to come up with a simple, one line answer to what a curry is.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
I would bet that is true. The usage of the word might be older than history, in the sense that we may have nothing to look up even if we wanted to try.

I'm sure that even with India's historical stature where spices are concerned, that international trade since prehistory has influenced India's cuisine too. I am one who likes to see relationships between things, such as variations and simiarities in what tea is called in different parts of the world. My dad is a linguist; I'm not, but I have some of the same interest.
post #18 of 21
That's about right. It's an English word to describe spicy Eastern (and particularly Indian) dishes. You can start looking at the etymology (and indeed it probably does stem from the Tamil kari) but this doesn't mean much

Andy
post #19 of 21
Agree with this. Curry is just an English word for 'Asian spicy food' and it really has lost all other meaning. The etymological kari (Tamil) is probably correct but it doesn't mean much in real life.

Andy
post #20 of 21


OH, Siduri.  That one is going into my repertoire    I usually pass on those groaners, but that is just too good to let go!

DD 

Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

to curry flavor?
ok, sorry, that was worth a groan


 

post #21 of 21

I spent 22 days in Thailand in the 1980s and ate curry almost every day for the noon meal, 22 delightfully different and tasty meals with very little in common besides the rice they were served with crazy.gif

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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