The Origin of Curry
Curry dishes can be found across the world and features in the traditional recipes of countries across south and south-east Asia, but where did curry come from?
The techniques used in producing curry powders and pastes are known through archaeological evidence to date back to over 4,000 years ago and have also survived through Roman cookbooks, but it is widely agreed that curry originated on the Indian subcontinent. The most likely theory on the origin of the word “curry” itself is that it derives from the Tamil word “kari”, referring to a sauce flavoured with a blend of spices from the South Indian region, which was then spread through emigration and trade across Asia and Europe.
The Mughal Empire of the 16th century is also believed to have had a strong influence on the cuisine of the region, which is now divided into the countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
Many people associate curry with the hot chili pepper, but this is mostly a Western influence. Through their trade centre in Goa, the Portuguese introduced the chili pepper to India from the Americas in the 16th century, where they influenced the creation of the Vindaloo.
Through Britain’s trade with India from the 17th century onwards the popularity of curry in Britain grew to the point where Queen Victoria herself was known for hosting dinners in the lavish Durbar Room at Osbourne House. These elaborate affairs featuring her favourite recipes that had been adapted from traditional Indian cuisine did much to secure the place of curry as a firm favourite in the cookbooks of the era.
Curry received a popularity boost in the latter half of the 20th century and today curry is considered among the most popular dishes of modern Britain, and has even been adopted as a national dish of the United Kingdom.
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