This Is Where The Flavor Of Curry Comes From

The idea of curry evokes many emotions, thoughts, and images within the minds of foodies everywhere. The smell and look of curry might transport people to the equally vibrant country of India, with all of its wonderful people and diverse cuisine. While that may hold true for many non-Indians, the idea of curry evokes something completely different within the minds and hearts of those native to India and of Indian descent. 

According to Atlas Obscura, curry is actually not an Indian invention but rather an oversimplified term used by British colonialists to lump together the diverse seasonings they found when they arrived in the country. Lizzie Collingham writes in her book, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, that curry was something Europeans forced onto the food culture in India after being introduced to things like rogan josh (an aromatic red meat dish of Kashmiri origin), dopiaza (an onion-based dish), and qorma/korma (meat or vegetables braised with yogurt or cream, water or stock).

What gives curry that flavor?

The Spruce Eats explains that the recipe for curry powder is simple and uses ingredients that are easy to find for those looking to make it at home. In reality, there really isn't a set standard recipe for making curry since it is meant to be a mix of many things in an effort to simplify more complex seasonings. Some of the mainstay components found in curry are cumin, coriander, and turmeric (this is what gives it the color everyone has come to recognize). Additional ingredients found within curry are mustard, ginger, clove, cardamom, bay leaf, fenugreek, and dealers choice of red or black pepper. 

Interestingly enough, curry powder does not, in fact, include curry leaf as an ingredient. Because of all the different aromatic ingredients found in curry, food that is seasoned with it will often taste both savory and sweet. Things like the cumin, turmeric, and bay leaf bring the savory element, while the ingredients like cinnamon and clove give it a sweeter profile. Many commercialized takes on curry powder can be found to come in different spice levels as well (primarily mild or hot), and the spice level is determined by the amount of pepper used to make it. The mild versions are often made with black pepper and ginger, while the hotter versions are made with hot peppers.