Curry’s special attraction
- What exactly is curry?|
- Interesting curry facts|
- Origin of the word curry|
- Regional distinctions of curry|
- Characteristics of Japanese curry
What exactly is curry?
The answer to this question depends on what region of the world you find yourself eating this delightful dish. Curry spread from India to Europe then to faraway Japan, undergoing subtle changes along the way to suit local tastes and ingredients. In India and Southeast Asia, curry is a soup-like dish made with numerous local spices while the European variety is comparatively thicker owing to the addition of flour.
It is this European style that first found its way to Japan. Called curry roux, it is made using curry powder mixed with flour and fried in fat with various seasonings. This is then poured into a stew of meat and vegetables, which thickens into typical Japanese curry. Today there is a vast assortment of high-quality curries sold in Japan based on this style. But curry is still curry no matter where it is found, and the addition of flour notwithstanding.
Interesting curry facts
- There was historically no dish called "curry" in India.
The name was coined by the English and it stuck.
- Curry powder originated in England then spread to Japan.
- After becoming hugely popular in other countries, curry powder
was exported to India, where it is now also being produced and sold.
- Indian chefs, when opening restaurants overseas, typically
classify their establishments as "Indian curry restaurants."
Origin of the word curry
Several versions relating to the origin of the word exist, but no one knows for certain just which is correct.
Turcarri is Hindu for "fragrant thing" or "flavorful thing." This may have morphed into "turry" that subsequently became "curry."
Kari is Tamil for "sauce." It doesn't take a stretch of imagination to see how that became "curry."
- Tamil (alternative)
Kari in Tamil also means "ingredients." Since there are so many ingredients in the dish, we get the word "curry."
No matter the origin, the word "curry" is now used worldwide, including in India.
Regional distinctions of curry
Curry is a highly spiced soup-like dish found across wide swaths of the globe, from Pakistan and India in the west to Borneo and Java in the east. Culinary experts refer collectively to these regions as the curry culture zone. As one travels further east, from China and the Korean Peninsula to Japan where fermented seasoning is commonplace, the area these regions comprise is known as the fermented sauce culture zone. In other parts of Asia one also finds the fish sauce culture zone and coconut culture zone. Because it was originally introduced from England, Japanese curry is markedly different from curries in the curry culture zone.
Characteristics of Japanese curry
The history of curry in Japan is relatively short, beginning during the Meiji era from 1868. Curry then was served with rice (hence, curry-rice) as was customary in Europe.
Japanese curry is not as pungent as its Asian counterparts, which are often characterized by a few outstanding spices. Instead, it is a relatively mild and harmonious blend of curry powder and spices in which no particular ingredient stands out. And because it contains flour, the sauce is comparatively thick. In addition, Japanese curry is typically served with rice. These underlying characteristics have not changed much over the last 150 years, but subtle variations have resulted in a wonderfully complex Japanese curry culture that S&B is proud to introduce to the world.