Curry, Curry, Curry
What is Curry?
Curry, as it is known in the west, is generally taken from the South Indian word khari which is a gravy or sauce served as a side dish with meats or veggie in accompaniment of a main dish. It usually contains some variation of spices including Coriander, Turmeric, Cumin, Fenugreek and Red Pepper. Variations of these spice combination's can be found in most Asian cuisines to varying degrees as Curry sauces and/or rubs.
Curry itself is from the Curry Tree which has highly aromatic leaves, used much like the bay leaf in the west, aromatic flowers and berries. All are edible, though the berry seeds are poisonous.
Indian Curry Dishes with links
There is so much you can do with the generic "Curry" spice assortment that it is hard to get a real grasp on it until you break it down by the region, so let's work within the Indian, and originating, culture.
Here are a few recipe links for traditional curry dishes I found sprinkled on the web that I have made and were really awesome. There will always be differences if you look into specific regions within India but these seem to be pretty typical all around dishes.
India has a lot of different vegetable dishes and variations of vegetable dishes. Try some of these for a bit of a change from the norm. Great for you vegetarians and vegans out there.
I absolutely love the variety of fish dishes form India and how well Curry can go with fish.
The Spices of Curry
As you can see from the recipes above, the variety of spices go way beyond just Curry leaves, Cumin and turmeric. You'll find Tamarind, Ginger, lemon grass, Cinnamon, Gram masala and various chili's and levels of spiciness. These will vary depending on region but you should try all of them!
Heres a list of the variety of spices classically used in Indian Curries:
- Cumin-Earthy and nutty flavor
- Turmeric-Earthy somewhat mustardy and deep yellow color
- Tamarind-Sour flavor used in place of tomatoes in Southern India
- Chilies-Fresh/dried/Powdered (Cayenne Pepper)
- Cardamom-Very strong flavor (used in Chai)
- Cinnamon-Sweet, distinct and pleasing flavor
- Clove-sweet, pleasing flavor
- Ginger-sweet and spicy
- Fenugreek-strong, bitter taste
- Nutmeg-Sweet pleasing flavor
- Mustard seed
The blend of these spices is what makes each regions version and each cultures versions so varied. Most of us have some of these in our pantry, get the stuff you don't have and give Curry a whirl!