Curry is the English word for any of a general variety of spiced dishes.
Those dishes use a complex combination of spices or herbs, usually including ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, and fresh or dried chilies.
There is no fixed recipe for curry, and the Indians themselves generally refer to this broad range of spice preparations as masala. These can be blends of powdered or whole spices and seasonings, wet or dry mixtures, mild or hot, depending on preference and regional style of cooking.
Most curries consist of meat, fish or vegetables prepared in a masala – a combination of regional spices and flavorings, and are usually accompanied by rice or some type of bread.
Curries may be either ‘dry’ or ‘wet’. Dry curries are cooked with very little 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.
The term “curry” is an Anglicized spelling of Tamil kari, a general term for any spiced sauce.
Curry originating in the Indian subcontinent.
Archaeological evidence dating to 2600 BC from Mohenjo-daro (archaeological site in Pakistan) suggests the use of mortar and pestle to pound spices including mustard, fennel, cumin, and tamarind pods with which they flavoured food. Black pepper is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia and has been known to Indian cooking since at least 2000 BC.
The establishment of the Mughal Empire, in the early 15th century, also influenced some curries, especially in the north.
Another influence was the establishment of the Portuguese trading centre in Goa in 1510, resulting in the introduction of chili pepper, tomatoes and potatoes to India from the Americas, as a byproduct of the Columbian Exchange.
Curry was introduced to English cuisine starting with Anglo-Indian cooking in the 17th century as spicy sauces were added to plain boiled and cooked meats.
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.
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.
Dishes that are often called curries in Europe and America are rarely called curries in the native language.
Curry is very popular in the United Kingdom, with a curry house in nearly every town.
A curry dish called Balti is said to have been originated in Birmingham, United Kingdom and has been dubbed Britain’s de facto national dish.
Curry powder is a spice mix originating from the Indian subcontinent. It was used as an ingredient in 18th century British recipe books, and commercially available from the late 18th century, with brands such as Crosse & Blackwell and Sharwood’s persisting to the present. British traders introduced the powder to Meiji Japan, in the mid-19th century, where it became known as Japanese curry.
According to legend, one 19th century attempt at curry resulted in the invention of Worcestershire sauce. The creators were the chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, who went on to form the company Lea & Perrins. Worcestershire sauce has been considered a generic term since 1876, when the English High Court of Justice ruled that Lea & Perrins did not own the trademark to “Worcestershire”.
Curry bread is a popular Japanese food. It consists of Japanese curry wrapped in a piece of dough, which is then coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. On occasion it is baked instead of deep fried, but deep frying is the most common method of cooking. Curry bread is usually found in bakeries and convenience stores.
The world’s most expensive curry has been launched despite the credit crunch – and costs £2,000 a portion. The Samundari Khazana curry, meaning Seafood Treasure, is a mix of caviar, sea snails, a whole lobster and even edible gold. The posh nosh is being served up at upmarket London eatery Bombay Brasserie.
The largest curry weighs 15.34 tonnes (33,838.9 lb) and was achieved by the Indian Chefs and Culinary Association (Singapore), in Singapore, on 1 August 2015. The attempt took place in a marquee set up in a public park as part of the Suvai event which is a yearly, four day long culinary event with chefs from all across Asia.
The longest curry delivery, ordered by Jon Wise and James Crisp (both UK) was delivered over 18,830 km (11,701 miles) from Christchurch, New Zealand to Manchester, UK, where it arrived on 29 February 2008.
The Curry Awards is an award given to curry restaurants in the United Kingdom. The Good Curry Guide Awards ceremony was established in May 1991 by Pat Chapman and was the first awards ceremony of any restaurant sector.