Curry is a delicious Asian seasoning with an interesting history, and multiple uses. Today I am sharing my own curry blend. So, what prompted me to do this? After all, you can buy curry in the store, right? Well, I thought, I already make my own chili powder, and garam masala why not make my own curry? It's that simple.
A spice blend
Varieties of curry differ from region to region not only in flavor, but also in color, pungency and aroma. The word curry is the anglicized version of the Tamil (oldest written Indian language) word kari, meaning stew.
The oldest seasoning
Curry is considered one of the world's oldest seasonings, with documented evidence of a similar mixture being used in ancient Mesopotamia. Although curry is mostly associated with India, many other countries in the Asian continent have a multitude of curry dishes in their culinary repertoire.
Thai food, for example, has many dishes that use red and or green curry. My daughter travels extensively throughout Thailand and raves about the curries. Next summer I will be spending three weeks with her savoring all the wondrous curry dishes I have heard about, and can almost taste. I can't wait!
Curry derives its intense golden hue from turmeric, similar to ginger. Buddhist monks use it to dye their robes. Formerly saffron was used for this purpose, but given its rising cost, turmeric was found to be an acceptable substitute. Tamil women dye their hands and soles of their feet with turmeric for wedding ceremonies. This practice is akin to the use of henna by Middle Eastern women.
A little curry lesson
I recently received an extensive lesson on types of curries in Asia. How did they spread east? How do different countries enjoy curry given diet influenced by both religious and environmental constraints? My source for this wealth of information is a dear Japanese colleague who is an authority on Asian Studies and Cultures. "Did you know", my friend said "that because the British introduced curry to Japan, the Japanese were, for a long time, under the impression that curry was a western dish?" I had no idea!
Curry dishes in Northern India are very different from those in Southern India. In Northern India, curry sauces are made with yogurt, whereas those in southern India use coconut milk. Why? Well, northern India is mountainous and developed largely as pastoral societies. Southern India, on the other hand, is mainly vegetarian and has an abundance of palm trees. Religious dietary laws also come into play.
So, what are you waiting for? Get blending. And, of course feel free to add your own spin. That's what it's all about!
Curry: History and Recipe
Here is my homemade Indian or Asian style curry powder that I use in many recipes. This will make about ¾ cup batch you can store in a glass jar in a cool dry place.
- Mix all ingredients in a glass jar.
- Shake well.
- Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.