Curry is a dish that many millions of people adore and it comes in many forms. There are variations of curried dishes from all over the world, from Jamaica to Sri Lanka and Africa too.
It is so popular that some pizza restaurants offer a Thai curry topping, there are pies filled with chicken curry, and in the UK fish and chip shops sell their own curry sauce for dipping chips into – not to be confused with potato chips, which the English call crisps.
How did curry start?
If you asked a group of westerners where and how curry started you might get the answer that it came from India. There is a certain truth in that answer but it isn’t quite so straightforward. The Portuguese colonized Goa in the 1500s and with them, they brought chilies which then spread through Asia. Through the Portuguese invaders also came Vindaloo which is now seen on many a menu in Indian restaurants.
It was the British who coined the phrase curry to describe leftover meat that was flavored with curry powder. In 1747 a cookery book in Britain included the first known curry recipe printed in that country. The first curry house opened in 1810 and the oldest surviving one, Veeraswamy is nearly a hundred years old. Through colonialism and food, Britain developed a love affair with curried meat and rice and the term curry entered the common language.
Is curry the name for all Indian dishes?
The fact is there is no such dish in India as a curry. All Indian dishes have their own names in the same way American and Italian dishes have theirs. Italian pasta dishes have their names and curry simply refers to the gravy or sauce used. However, it is undeniable that the term is now used across the world, incorrectly but highly unlikely to change.
Like it or not, curry as a name has traveled far and wide and is now the word many think of when considering food from Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and even South Africa.
Can you cook authentic dishes at home?
Some curry-based dishes are deep and complex and take hours to make, let alone perfect. Many others lend themselves to home cooks and there are also some handy tools and appliances. Recipes and spices such as garam masala are readily available today.
If you are a keen cook then you may have your favorite appliances already but there is always room for one more if it can make your life easier. Curries can take some time to cook, and many lend themselves to a slow cooker so the meat falls from the bone. That is where an Instant Pot can come into play. Imagine slow-cooked lamb curry where the meat is tender and moist. Instant Pots let you cook fast or slow while making sure all the flavor is retained in the ingredients. They can cook up to 70% quicker and everyone is looking to save money on electricity so this is a plus point.
What is an Instant Pot and how can it cook curry?
This is a popular kitchen appliance that can help beginners learn to cook and assist experienced cooks to try new and exciting recipes with ease. It works by cooking with moisture, steam, and pressure. It is an easily programmable appliance that is generally used to speed up the cooking process and therefore save time. By increasing the temperature beyond boiling point and putting the food under pressure it cooks your food is ready in no time.
So while you can slow cook a curry for hours to make the toughest cuts tender you can also produce a world-class butter chicken from corrie cooks in no time. Instant Pots are perfect for cooking curries at home as they use one pot and leave no mess, allowing you to cook a northern Indian dish in possibly less time than ordering a takeaway.
How much has curry established itself overseas?
If you look at the number of restaurants selling curry then there is a very different picture between the UK and the USA. The UK has a long love affair with anglicized Indian food and they have over 8,500 Indian restaurants whereas the considerably bigger US only has 5,000. However, another type of curry might be more popular. There are more than 5,000 Thai restaurants so perhaps Americans are getting their kick from a spicy Thai red curry.
What other varieties of curry could you try?
Although there may not be restaurants in your area for all the world’s cuisines and in particular curry, there are still many you could try at home. Try bunny chow from South Africa, Japanese katsu curry, Laos Khao Poon, and the British favorite, chicken tikka masala. As a side fact, chicken tikka masala was invented in England and there is no such thing in India. It became so popular that at one point it outsold fish and chips, the national dish of England.
If you love curry then keep experimenting. There are types of curries from Jamaica, Germany, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Myanmar and there are still more. The use of spices and curry to bring meat and vegetables to life is popular all across the world. The best thing is many of these dishes are available to you in local restaurants or even better by cooking at home. Visit Asian shops for ingredients and try to cook at home. If you get an Instant Pot then you will find many curries are suitable for it.
Curry is centuries old and comes in many forms. These days, McDonald’s has a sweet curry dip and it regularly sells out. Since chilies were spread by traders to India, China, and other countries the food there evolved into more spicy dishes, and these later became known to the west. This culinary past has led to the future where you can get currywurst at the German Christmas market or a Chinese curry in Chinatown.