Muchos de nosotros que amamos la cocina india, pensamos que el curry es una especia,  pero Sujatha en Who Owns the Curry by Sujatha, nos demuestra que no es del todo verdad.


Sujatha, a truly Indian Woman.

As an Indian who lived in England for more than five years and having travelled to many European countries (now living in Europe), I have had the experience of seeing or hearing this word “Curry” so many times that it has prompted me to write this blog.

I am an Indian Woman who belongs to the South of India and married into a family that lived most of their life in North of India.

What Curry means in a South Indian language is completely different to the curries made in the rest of India. Curry or Kari means a dish made of vegetables and in the South Indian (Tamilian) context, it is usually dry.

A special type of leaf called the Curry Leaf is often used in South Indian Cooking and I often wonder about the origin of the word “Curry” is because this leaf is most often used in cooking this dish and hence called as the Curry leaf.

“Kari” in Tamilian language also refers to “Meat”. On the other hand, “Turry” in North India means gravy that was cooked with a concoction of spices with either vegetables or meat.

This is the Pestle and Mortar

This is the Pestle and Mortar

When I first heard the word “Curry” in England, it sounded more like a misnomer!

When I first heard the word “Curry” in England, it sounded more like a misnomer! I could not relate to it at all because there is no one fool proof recipe or a dish that we can call as “The Curry” in India while the rest of the world is sure that we taught the world how to make “The Curry”.

If I told someone where I came from, pat came the reply,” I love the Indian curry!” That amuses me because the word curry is a very vague term in India and nothing could be funnier than this for an Indian because depending on which region they belong to in India, there are so many versions and variations of the same thing that it is impossible to get any familiarity upon hearing the word “Curry”.

Instead, our Indian minds go into a roller coaster of questions and thoughts whether they are referring to the Goan Fish Curry or the Chicken Curry or the Mutton Curry or the Rogan Josh or the Thai Curry. I only found that it is a term widely used in order to relate to the Indian way of cooking vegetables, lentils, meat or fish with spices and herbs, to make more sense to someone who is new to Indian cooking. Typically Curry means “Sauce “.

Having said that, another interesting dimension to the curry is added by the Indian restaurants worldwide. The Menu card for the Main Course always has some curry or the other as that is how the World seems to relate to Indian Cooking. Some restaurants have literally tossed the vegetables in tomato sauce and have presented it to us saying “The Curry”. My husband and I look into each other with our eyes popping out, speechless!

So, now, let us go to the definition and origin of the word Curry.

Curry seems to be that orphaned child that nobody can completely own. Wikipedia says that Curry is a variety of dishes originating from the Indian subcontinent that uses a complex combination of spices and herbs. Curry is generally prepared in a sauce. The spices used in a curry may be whole or ground, roasted or raw. Curry may be either wet or dry.

Origin of Curry

Archaeological evidence states that spices were present and ground using the pestle and mortar in the Mohenjo-Daro civilisation as early as 2600 BCE. The Mughal Empire that ruled India before the British and the Portuguese influence of trading centre in Goa, India in 1510 was another influence. Curry was first introduced to English Cuisine through Anglo Indian Cooking in the 17th century as a lot of spicy sauces were added to plain boiled and cooked meats. The 1758 edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery contains a recipe “To make a curry the Indian way”. 

Curry was first served in coffee houses in Britain from 1809, and had been increasingly popular in Great Britain and during the 19th century, curry was also carried to the Caribbean by Indian indentured workers in the British sugar industry.The Curry Powder was a mixture of spices commonly thought to have been prepared commercially and sold to the British Colonial Government and the army returning to Britain.

When Queen Victoria was the Empress of India in 1877, she was gifted two cooks from India because of her interest in the Indian culture and cuisine. It could be claimed that by the end of 1880s, different varieties of curries already had become a staple in Queen Victoria’s Weekly Menu.

Spicy Chicken Rogan Josh Curry

Spicy Chicken Rogan Josh Curry

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.

In the end, I can conclude saying that Curry is just like the English language, so many versions, diluted but not lost!

Si quieres ampliar tu vocabulario de inglés de recetas, comidas, y viajes, te recomendamos que te vuelvas a leer la entrada en la que hablábamos del hinglish o  los 10 platos con sabor típico americano.

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