Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday's Cupful: Background on curry

Tasty renditions around the globe
The name identifies several spicy and well-seasoned dishes that originate in Southeast Asia—especially East India. Most recipes contain three major seasonings: cumin, coriander, and cumin. A full range of other ingredients and spices vary from one country to another. Chefs can compare “curry” to using the word “soup” or “stew” in Western cooking. Curry lovers might be surprised that no specific ingredient turns a pot full of ingredients into curry.

The name comes from the Tamil (an East Indian language) word for sauce but is now understood to mean seasoned meat or vegetables with or without a sauce. Southern East Indians like making curries that are side dishes to be eaten with a main meat or seafood dish. Other East Indians make curries that combine meat, fish, spices, ghee, and yogurt. Expect this style of curry to be served with rice or flatbread in the Subcontinent.

Chinese-style curries are made with different meats, fish, and vegetables in a relatively mild flavored sauce (compared to other Asian curries) that’s usually more watery than other Asian curries. Curry noodles or Singapore noodles are also a common menu item in China.

Japanese-style curry or kare was introduced by the British during the Meiji era (1868-1912). The Japanese like making curry that consists of meat along with carrots, potatoes and celery in a pot. Look for curry and rice on menus of some Japanese restaurants. Meanwhile, also look for different color Thai curries (red, yellow, and green) that contain lots of hot chili pepper, pungent herbs, and spices. Remember that there are several Thai curries that don’t call for coconut milk.

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