Curry is a popular choice in a lot of British households for a weekend treat, including ours. Sometimes this will home made, sometimes it will come from the supermarket deli counter, sometimes it will be delivered by our local Tandoori restaurant, or (best of all, because it involves no washing up) eating out.
The concept of ‘curry’ was brought to the West by British colonialists in India from the 18th century. Now it has become an integral part of British life, with a curry house or takeaway never too far away.
The term ‘curry’ tends to encompass spicy dishes from a variety of countries, though the first that usual springs to mind is India. Dishes may also have origins from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, Nepal.
There is so much variety, I could be here forever. So, extremely briefly…
Curries can be yoghurt based like Korma. Many curry enthusiasts find these curries too mild (and some will scoff at Korma eaters), but personally I find that with a large bit of Naan bread it makes great comfort food. Or there’s the more tomato based variety, like Rogan Josh. Other choices that can usually be found in the British curry house include:
Passanda, Dopiaza, Jalfrazi, Madras, the famously hot Vindaloo, and then even hotter Phall.
Ingredients tend to be based around a variety of spices. Some of the most used are ginger, onion and garlic, tumeric. Other ingredients may include cumin, cardamon, lemongrass, chillis, cinnamon sticks, cloves, Star anise, mace. Some recipes use Garam Masala, which is a a blend of ground spices – most traditional mixes use cinnamon, cumin, caraway seeds, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.
There’s a variety of different rices too. Pilau Rice is the more popular (rice cooked with spices), or there is mushroom rice, vegetable rice, or coconut rice.
Another accompaniment is Naan, a flat bread. This can be plain, or stuffed with other ingredients such as Keema (minced meat), Peshwari (honey & raisins), or Garlic.
In addition to the main course, there are numerous side plates, and again these will vary according the main dishes origins. Again, in your average curry house, you would expect to see things like Bombay Potatoes, Saag Aloo (spinach potatoes), Bhajis, and Pakoras.
And I can’t believe I forgot the mighty Poppadom – a wafer type food item, often made from lentils. These tend to be eaten first, along with onion salad and a variety of chutneys.
Hopefully along the course of this blog, I’ll be able to expand a little on individual recipes and curry related food items.
For now, I’d just like to say – if you always stick to the same dish, please try something new. The hotter dishes aren’t for everyone (especially me!), but the majority are full of flavours that it would be a shame to miss.