A “curry” story


I am here with the sole agenda to clarify the term “curry” for the uninitiated. What’s in a name? Everything is! It is not a generic term for just about any Indian food – vegetarian or non-vegetarian, and regardless of consistency. You can imagine the dismay if I were to say that the Indian “curry” = western “gravy” or “sauce”. Then there was Rick Stein’s BBC episode  “In search of the perfect curry” that put my mind to ease…….but just a little bit :). The episode was an interesting take on the origin and meaning of the term “curry” across India. As the cloud of confusion slowly lifted from the elusive curry, but then again its interpretation began to change based on the Indian state you were in.

Growing up in our home curry was akin to “kadhi” chawal, which is a hearty dish made from spiced yogurt and onion pakodas (or dumplings). I remember years ago, when my lab pal remarked how he adores the Indian curry, and just like the food genie that I am; I brought him some home-made “kadhi chawal”. To my disappointment he could not recognize the dish and unhappily chewed through the meatless meal. And that was my first brush with someone with an inadmissible notion of the word “curry”.

Then there is and always shall be the chicken “curry”. It is not as ubiquitous as you think. It takes a great deal of competence to conjure up a good chicken curry. Continuing on this theme of our understanding….anything chicken or fish dish that maybe dry or wet is not necessarily a curry – it has a specific name. So use it! A curry isn’t a curry unless the last name says so. Yes, curries have spices but so do plenty of other non-curry Indian dishes. Similarly, a dry or semi-dry vegetable dish is not a curry but a “sabzi”. And if you have made it this far…..you might very well predict that the “curry powder” is something you will not find in my kitchen. It is blasphemy. Although wikipedia provides a lot of information on “curry”, I do not fully agree with its interpretation….hence my blog post!

So don’t drop the word “curry” so easily and don’t associate it with something trivial. It isn’t.

– The angry chef 🙂

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