Many people question how Indians can eat curry every day and not feel tired about it. That is because, in these people’s minds, the curry is the yellow sauce with potato and which eat with rice, nothing more. For Indians, this problem is not a problem at all. It is like, someone asked me, wouldn’t it be irritating to eat Chinese food and rice every day?
When I was travelling in India,
I asked an Indian friend: Where can I buy curry powder?
He asked me: What curry?
I said: the yellow powder!
He said: I don’t know which kind of yellow powder you are talking about.
（照片是朋友家廚房裡最基本的幾種調味料，像是我們的醬油和鹽。 The picture is the typical spices that my friend’s family use in dishes. It is just like in our kitchen we have soy sauce and salt.）
The concept of curry is actually invented by the British. It appeared in the British recipes after the 18th century. The British people classified all the savoury, spiced Indian dishes into one category called curries. For the manufacturers at that time; they produced pre-mixed boxed spices, named as curry powder. It was first widely used to cook a kind of gravy with vegetables or other ingredients.
There are several possibilities for the word “curry” comes from, one possibility is that it was from the South Indian Tamil word Kari.
Curry is not equal to yellow sauce and potato dishes, however, yellow and potato dishes can be a kind of curry.
For Indians, a variety of different vegetables, beans and other ingredients; will be matched with different spices, and there are thousands of different curries. In contrast, the curry in our concept is only one certain flavour. Because of the huge variety of recipes, when we say curry, it is impossible for Indians to define which recipe that we are talking about.
Outside o India, the common curry that we buy in the market (I am talking about that yellow curry powder) is a mixture of spices such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, mustard, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and chilli powder. According to the habits of different families and regions, the way of cooking and how Indians use the species is different.
Knowing the definition of curry for Indians, it is not difficult to understand that curry is not necessary to eat with rice. If you think of curry as a dish made by spices and vegetables, you can, of course, eat with a variety of staple foods. North India is flour-based, such as roti, naan, chapati, etc., while the South is mainly eating rice. Similar to the difference between North and South China.
（照片為我的咖哩樹 It is my curry in the picture.）
As mentioned above, curry is a general term for a variety of mixed spices. I originally thought that curry was a single spice. One day I went to the flower market to buy a curry tree, which I thought it could be like a cinnamon tree; use the leaves or bark to produce the spice, and later it was known to be a misunderstanding. The leaves of the curry tree were also used as a spicy. Because it smelled like curry, it was named as a curry tree, and the curry tree could not be used alone to make curry. The curry tree was originally called Murraya Koenigii, and Chinese is also known as seasoning Jiulixiang.
A large part of the India population is vegetarian. An Indian uncle told me that we don’t need the delicious meat because the spices have brought us the best taste. In the concept of Ayurveda, spices can be medicines that have many different effects on the body. Because of the climate, India has many original spices that are used in diet and pharmacology. These rich and fragrant spices are the treasures that Europeans were seizing in Asia during the maritime era.
According to Indians, curry is just a mixture of various spices. The concept of looking at Indian curry as a single dish is far worse than that of an outsider. Every single spice has its own special taste and characteristics. Next time, why not call the curry in the name of Masala, the general name for spices like how Indians call it. And specify individual names for individual spices.
圖片是新德里香料市集的一家商店 A store in New Delhi spice market
“The Mystery of Curry”. Slate magazine. https://slate.com/
“Why Shouldn’t You Ask an Indian for Curry? And a Recipe for Garam Masala” https://indiaphile.info/
“So THAT’S What Curry Is: The Difference Between The Spice, The Leaves And the Dish” https://www.huffpost.com/life/
Many Thanks, Photo by Paolo Bendandi on Unsplash