If we were to choose one word that captures the quintessence of Indian cuisine abroad, the one word that represents all Indian food from north to south, east to west, regardless of region or culture, that word would indisputably be Curry. Say “Curry” and the whole world known you mean Indian food.
The term Curry refers to a yellow or mustard colour spice available in nearly every supermarket in Germany or European city and is an essential ingredient in Indian cooking abroad. It has managed to work its way up the cadres of spices and firmly established itself as a true representative of Indian cuisine. Ahead of widely used garam masala, paanch phoron or sambar powder known to every Indian housewife.
Curry as a spice is not found in a traditional Indian kitchen, it is unknown to the cook in India.
Curry? What is this Curry? wonders the expat Indian pushing his trolley down the supermarket aisle, to stop in front of shelves stacked with rows of condiments and stare at the yellow tin labelled “Curry”. Is it a kind of turmeric?
Curry is a spice mix. It consists of coriander, turmeric, fennel, cumin and fenugreek mixed in various proportions and ground to a fine powder. Some types also include cloves, garlic, ginger, chillies and mustard in the mix, to name a few spices. Each brand of curry powder has its own particular taste and aromatic accent.
To the Indian cook, the word “curry” signifies gravy or sauce. Popular dishes such as chicken curry, mutton curry and vegetable curry derive their names from this original usage of the term.
So how did Curry become an ambassador to Indian cuisine abroad?
Indian food started gaining popularity outside India in the 1950`s and `60 resulting in widespread growth of Indian restaurants. Indian cuisine soon acquired a large following and Indian cooking attracted the interest of cooks and hobby-cooks abroad. The spices required for the dishes were not readily available; some were rather exotic and most were not present in the normal assortment of spices used for western cooking.
The innumerable rare and exotic spices were mixed to a blend that approximated the aroma and flavour conjured by an Indian cook, merchandised as Curry, and made easily available to all fans of Indian cuisine. It soon became an essential ingredient in Indian dishes abroad.
And so the Curry was born.
On that note, signing off from Frankfurt am Main