World Curry Month At The Spicery!
We’ve declared March to be World Curry Month at the Spicery as we get you hyped and ready for a grand, Legendary curry announcement in the very near future!
World Curry Month is a full month dedicated to ours, and the entire world’s love of all the different curries around the globe!
From the rich curries cooked with coconut milk in Mamak stalls in Malaysia, to the Cape Malay curries of South Africa served with Apricot sambal, and the hot and sweet curries of the Caribbean flavoured with lots of fresh herbs and served with pepper sauce - the whole world loves a good curry (and have made it their own!)
But have you ever wondered what exactly makes a curry, a curry? ‘Curry’ as we know the use of the word, was 'invented' by the Brits in the 18th century when describing pretty much any sauce-based dish in Indian cuisine. The British were probably completely overwhelmed with the range, sophistication and complexity of the local cooking, and needed a simple way of comprehending it, so started to use 'curry' as a single word to describe it.
There is some speculation about where the word originally came from, but it’s likely that it comes from the Tamil word ‘kari’. The truth is that it is now used around the world as the generic name for highly spiced, thick sauces with pungent flavours.
Over the years, we at the Spicery have travelled around the world in search of the best ingredients and dishes for you to enjoy via our recipe kits and subscription boxes. One of the things we've found really interesting in the Spicery kitchen is that many of the local curries cooked in the Caribbean, South Africa, South-East Asia and many other regions often share a common DNA of using similar Indian spices and cooking techniques.
This common DNA is perhaps a result of colonisation and trade, as the British (and to some extent the French and Dutch) transported hundreds of thousands of Indian and South Asian people to work in their new colonies in the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific. These people also brought with them their knowledge of spices and cooking techniques, which mixed with the local cultures and ingredients to create the amazing (and delicious!) variety of curries that we all know and love today.
The second part of the story is the (often derided!) invention and marketing of curry powder during the days of the Raj. Indian cooks have always made various masalas or spice mixes, usually specific to different dishes, and even varying with the seasons to reflect Ayurvedic beliefs in terms of the health benefits of different spices and how they react with the body at different times.
The British clearly couldn't cope with such complexity and sophistication, so started to produce and sell a blend with many of the commonly used spices in Indian cooking, but in a convenient ready-to-use single mix. It's an innovation that some might say has had disastrous results as we've all eaten some fairly boring generic curries just flavoured with ancient and tasteless curry powder(!), but it has also enabled Indian spices and a familiarity with curry flavours to travel around the world.
There are now all sorts of local curry powders that are specific to the Caribbean, the Mother and Father-in-law masalas in South Africa, blocks of Japanese curry paste and the various curry powders being used in Myanmar, Singapore and Malaysia. For all the negative connotations of a single blend being used to make all the dishes taste the same (and have very little relevance to those cooked in India!), in the right hands a good curry powder is a really useful blend to have, and mixed with local fresh ingredients and seasonings results in some really unique and delicious food!
It's this revelation and concept of a shared DNA that's guided a lot of our recipe development and is also a core part of our big (Legendary!) announcement due at the end of World Curry Month this March. If you want to be one of the first to get the details about our big announcement, sign up here!
In the meantime, have a look at some of the highlights of our World Curry travel adventures at the Spicery:
and of course, a big part of the story - the history of the East India Company in London!