Curry – Not All Curry is Created Equal

Many are familiar with this situation: You run out of your favourite curry powder and pick up the first one you find during your next shop, only to discover it tastes completely different. No wonder, as curry is not a herb that grows on trees or shrubs, but rather a mixture of up to 36 different spices.

Food Facts Food Facts
Common ingredients turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek seeds, ginger, black pepper
Storage dry and protected from light for approx. one year

Curry – How It Came To Europe

Using spice mixes is a tradition of the Indian cuisine. These so-called masalas are freshly prepared and each cook has his own recipe, which is adapted to the specific dish. During the British colonial rule, masala became known and loved in England, where a milder version suited to the European taste buds was created and named curry, derived from the tamil word for sauce, “kari”.

Every curry mixture consists of up to 36 ingredients. Individual components shouldn’t stand out, but rather result in a harmonious, delicious mixture. The most important ingredient is turmeric, a deep yellow spice that lends curry its characteristic colour. Coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ginger and pepper are usually included too. Depending on the combination, the following ingredients may also be present:

Curry – From Mild to Spicy

Like Indian masalas, European curry spice mixtures also differ from one another. Manufacturers use different ingredients and particularly the level of spiciness may vary. A number of combinations have established themselves as particularly popular:

  • English mix: aromatic and mild, popular for European dishes
  • Indian mix: contains more coriander than other mixtures
  • Madras curry:  spicy, contains more chilli
  • Bengalen curry: mild, slightly sweet
  • Thai curry: medium level spiciness, particularly suitable for Thai dishes, red colour due to high paprika content

Curry – No Riz Casimir Without It

Due to its diverse flavour, curry isn’t only a staple in Indian or Asian cuisine. European dishes can be transformed with a sprinkling or a teaspoon of the yellow mixture. Without curry sauce, Riz Casimir could not exist. Especially with rice the spice is a popular choice. Whether vegetarian or meat, fish and poultry, the yellow powder is a great addition to any dish. Pastry, potato salad, soups, dressings and sauces do not only adopt a stunning yellow colour with a sprinkling of curry powder, but also an exotic note.

If you briefly sauté the curry with a little fat before use its flavour can fully develop. Butter or ghee – clarified butter that is an Indian speciality and can be found in many delicacies sections – are good choices. Culinary beginners may find it hard to judge how much of the powder to use, but should a little too much of it end up in the frying pan, a little cream dilutes the spiciness. For Asian dishes you can also use coconut milk for this purpose, as the flavour is well suited.

Curry – Avoid Confusion

If you order curry in India, you will not be served the spice. In South Asia and South East Asia the term describes a kind of stew with a special spiced sauce and different ingredients, from vegetables to meat, fish and other sea food. It is usually served with rice, lentils or bread, in India often a chapatti or naan bread. Similarly to curry powder, curry sauce requires a wide range of spices. Some dishes are very spicy, as they contain a lot of chilli.

The spice also has little to do with the curry tree that grows in India. The curry leaves are used as a spice in some regions of India and have a fruity, smoky flavour. The Italian straw flower, also known as curry plant, is also not a component of the spice mix. The name is simply derived from the smell of the flower, which is reminiscent of the smell of curry, although the taste bears certain similarities too, which is why curry plant is also used as a spice.

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