Indian curries are, with no doubt, a famous part of cuisine to be found almost everywhere around the world. They are popular for their great taste and wide variety. It is no wonder then to find restaurant and other forms of eateries specializing in Indian cuisine. An Indian cuisine is not complete without the curry. In fact, the word curry is synonymous with Indian cuisine. Apart from the variety and great taste of Indian curries, they also have tantalizing colors that are appealing to the eye. There is a misconception about the Indian curries that is held by the public, especially American public.
Many people think that they are always spicy. This is not the case. Some curries have sour flavors, and even sweet in some cases. It is not true that curry powder is the only ingredient of curry food in India. There are other ingredients like pepper, chillies and others. However, it is true that spices are a central part of Indian curry dishes, but not the sole component. This paper is going briefly look at the historical background of Indian curry. The different types of Indian curries will also be analyzed.
The writer will also analyze the incorporation of Indian curry in American cuisine, and the popularity of this curry amongst the American public. Indian Curries: A Brief Background When the word curry is used in the Indian context, it refers to sauce (Panjabi, 2006). As such, any kind of Indian food that is accompanied by a sauce is referred to as a curry. Curries in India are used as a side dish, meaning that they accompany other meals like rice, chicken or lamb (Sanmugam, 2003). On the other hand, curry powder is a combination of various spices.
These will include turmeric, coriander and other powders like chillies and ginger. The term curry is derived from a word that is found in the southern Indian community of Tamil (Panjabi, 2006). This community used the word “kari” to describe the same kind of dish that Indians refer to as curry (Panjabi, 2006). Curries have a very long history in the Indian culture. By the year 3000 B. C. , most of the ingredients of curry powder were to be found in Indian farms (Raghavan, 2006). These include turmeric and pepper. Also, mustard and cardamom were to be found in these farms.
It is important to note that these were the basic ingredients of curry powder, meaning that this powder existed that early in this civilization. But the earliest evidence of a recipe that can be described as curry dish appeared much later. This is the period around 1700 B. C (Raghavan, 2006). It was in form of a meat dish that was accompanied with a spicy sauce, the hall mark of Indian curry (Raghavan, 2006). This was found in Mesopotamia, and it was a recipe written on tablets. Archeologists and other analyst of the early civilizations contend that this dish was an offer to the Marduk God (Raghavan, 2006).
Curry became a component of British cuisine in the late 18th century (Peterson, 2007). It was brought to this land by merchant ships sailing from India. The first recipe for what we refer to as “curry” today appeared in 1747 in Britain (Peterson, 2007). It was composed by Hannah Glasse. This was in her book “Glasse’s Art of Cookery” (Peterson, 2007). Before 1780, curry could be found in some restaurants in the city of London. Curry powder, the chief ingredient of curry dish in India, is made by combining at least a dozen spices. This combination is referred to by the Indians as garam masala (Hayden, 2009).
This combination is used in the Indian curry dish to bring out the distinct flavor and taste that is associated with Indian cuisine, as well as to add to the tantalizing flavor. Early Indian curry dishes did not contain peppers. This is because peppers were not grown in India at that time. They only came to be incorporated into the dish after the Indians started trading with merchants who had access to red and chili peppers (Panjabi, 2006). Curry dish can be varied to cater for the need of vegetarians as well as the meat lovers.
Types of Indian Curries These are the type of curry dishes that can be found in restaurants of nowadays that specialize in Indian cuisine. The dishes, together with the accompanying recipe, originated from India and her environs, but are sometimes adapted to fit to the local environment. For example, beef is not used by Indians in their cuisines, as it is against the Hindu religion. However, one tends to find Indian curry accompanying beef in most contemporary restaurants in our society. Rogan Josh The chief ingredient of this curry dish is lamb (Panjabi, 2006). The spices in this dish are moderate.
The dish has its roots in the cuisine that is practiced in the Kashmir. This is especially the northern region of this country (Panjabi, 2006). To spice it up, the chef uses conspicuous amounts of dried red chillies. This gives it its characteristic deep crimson color. Fresh tomatoes are also used. The tomatoes are accompanied by a dash of coriander. Jalfrezi This is another Indian curry dish that is moderately spiced, lacking the distinctive hot taste that many people like to associate with Indian cuisine (Hayden, 2009). The curry sauce is composed mainly of tomatoes.
They are stir fried, then garnished with sweet pepper (Hayden, 2009). The individual can add more peppers to make the curry sauce hotter, instead of its original flavor of slightly sweet. This sauce can then accompany other dishes like fish with rice and bread. Vindaloo This dish will perhaps give the consumer the envisioned image of Indian curries. It is a very fiery curry that has conspicuous amounts of red peppers and vinegar (Hayden, 2009). This dish is not native to India. It came with the Portuguese who colonized this country. This was in the late 1400’s (Hayden, 2009).
Originally, this dish was a combination of wine and garlic. Today, cardamom and mustard seeds can be used to add to the distinct hot taste of the sauce. Dopiaza These curry dish is based on onions. First, onions are browned. Then the chef will add ginger and garlic. These are the three main components of the sauce (Hayden, 2009). After this sauce is prepared, it is then combined with the beef, fish, chicken, lamb or any other kind of meat that the person desires. It is moderately dry. The above are just some of the common curry dishes that are to be found in our society.
It is an indication of how Indian curries have influenced contemporary food preparation and habits in America. This can be gauged by the number of Indian restaurants that are to be found around the cities. Each city has at least three Indian restaurants (Raghavan, 2006). Though the dishes are of Indian origin, it is important to note that the restaurants serve both Indian and non-Indian clientele. Importance of Indian Curries Food serves a number of functions in the human society. It is not only used to satisfy the hunger pangs of the individual, but can also be out into a myriad of other many uses.
For example, food can be used as a means of socialization, whereby people meet and socialize over a plate of food or a cup of tea. Food can also be used for cultural practices, for example when it is used by Indians as offerings to their gods. Indian curries serve these purposes and many others. However, the notable benefit of Indian curries is to be found in their use as medicinal agents. Indian curries have been known to fight common illnesses like Alzheimer and cancer. This is perhaps the reason why there are less cases of Alzheimer in India and her neighboring societies.
For the curries to have the desired medicinal value, the chef is advised to use fresh ingredients, as opposed to the processed ingredients like curry powder found in many supermarket shelves today. Caraway seed is one of the oldest ingredients of Indian spices (Sanmugam, 2003). These seeds contain limonene oil (Sanmugam, 2003). This is very useful in boosting the individual’s immunity system. It also helps in soothing dry and itchy skin. This oil has been known to relieve many conditions, especially after been combined with olive oil. These include bronchitis and eye infections (Sanmugam, 2003).
When used in food, this spice helps lactating mothers to produce more milk for the child. It can also be used to contain oral infections like halitosis. Cardamom pod is another very useful ingredient of Indian curry. It contains cineole (Peterson, 2007). This is a potent antioxidant. It boosts the immune system. It also detoxifies one’s liver. People who consume curry containing this spice regularly have been known to have reduced risks of getting cancer, especially stomach cancer (Peterson, 2007). It is also known to fight asthma and can be used to fight bad breath. Clove contains elements that are also of medicinal value.
It has eugenol, another form of an antioxidant agent (Peterson, 2007). It relieves toothache and sore throat. Fennel seeds are also very helpful. They have antioxidant which helps in fighting infections like cancer. Anethole is one antioxidant contained in these seeds. Kaempferol and rutin are other antioxidants of the same seeds. Turmeric root contains curcuma. This is what gives it the signature orange taint. It is an antioxidant and a pain killer. Conclusion Indian curries have a very long history in the Indian civilization. The ingredients of curry powder were cultivated in this society three millennia before the birth of Christ.
This is an indication that they were probably used in these times. Indian curries have greatly influenced the cuisine of contemporary western societies. This can be gauged by the profusion of Indian restaurants in the country. Indian curry can accompany a number of dishes, and the preparations and ingredients of this curry vary from one place to the other. Like any other form of food, Indian curry can be put into several uses apart from the conventional one of satisfying hunger. The writer noted the medicinal use of this curry, an indication of its popularity.