What is curry anyway?

September 24, 2020 0 Comments

What is curry anyway?

This summer, we participated in our first farmers market season in the Denver / Boulder area. We have set up shop every weekend at the Old South Pearl Street Farmers Market on Sunday mornings and the Real Farmers Market in Louisville every other Saturday, and are having a great time meeting customers and sharing our story. 

Despite the challenges of being in the midst of a pandemic, it has been a fantastic opportunity, bringing us closer to our community and allowing us to connect with new friends and old. Throughout the summer, one common refrain we hear from people unfamiliar with our product is, "I don’t like curry!" On the one hand, this comment strikes us as odd because who doesn't like curry? But also because it’s a statement that requires a lot of questions. Because, curry is not one thing or a specific blend of spices. 

In the end, we find this incredibly encouraging because our goal is to share the complexities of curry blends, the diverse history of the spices, and the evolving nature of what we know (and love!) as “curry.”

Our company, Masi Masa, reflects our love of travel. Like us, curry is a traveler.

Today, it can be found all over the world, in many different forms and styles. If you followed curry's footsteps throughout history, you would return to India along trade routes through colonies and conquests. The name "curry" is a catchall, first given by the Portuguese and then adopted by the British, to label the multitudes of spiced stews native to Indian cuisine. Turmeric, coriander, cumin, and fenugreek became the principal spices in what became known as curry powder.

In India today, curry can be found on English menus, loosely translating to "gravy." Whether it is merely "gravy" or Indian spiced stews, curry has remained undefined and open to interpretation. As the principal Indian spices of curry traded throughout the world, each new destination brought a fresh perspective and imagination to both the dish and spice blend.

For example, Thailand had been making indigenous “curry” dishes, called kaeng, for thousands of years since Indian traders brought turmeric and coriander to Thailand. It was only once the British arrived that the name curry was applied. Thai Green Curry originated in central Thailand and features makrut lime (commonly referred to as “kaffir” lime—we'll get to the complicated origins of that name, stay tuned). This indigenous Thai lime adds unique flavoring that is representative of Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine. 

To us, the beauty of curry is that it has evolved as it has traveled. From Japan to Germany (yes, even Germany...currywurst anyone?) and from Fiji to South Africa, curry has adapted and grown—the spices stuck their proverbial roots into the ground at each new landing spot and have truly become spices without borders. 

As a result, we believe there is a curry for everyone out there. For those of you who still aren’t convinced: if you’re willing to immerse yourself in the variety of spice blends that make up curries, you might just find one that you love! 





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