It never occurred to me that curry is a sauce and a spice, nor was I aware there are so many different types of curry all over the world.
“When people mention they love curry or dislike it, I often want to ask the question, which curry are you referring to? West, East, green, red. Curries from the West are usually made from a curry powder, which is bright yellow and used as a seasoning and adds flavour and colour to the dish. When you prepare a dish, the curry comes from the build up of the flavours such as the browning of onions, garlic, ginger, spices, tomatoes, and water. Now it’s a curry sauce. You then continue to cook your ingredients in that sauce and simmer for optimum flavour,” explains Sylvia Parks, Owner of Indian Plates in Barrie, Director of Pampered Chef Canada, and Chef with President’s Choice Cooking School.
Curries from the East can vary, but in Northern India a spice called garam masala is used instead of curry powder. Garam masala is a blend of spices. Translated from Hindi, garam masala means warm, or warming spice because it adds warmth to a dish.
“My mother and I make homemade garam masala and sell it in spice dabbas or thali, which means box or tin. We use 13 spices, and roast and grind them,” shares Parks.
Curry has been around for a long time, so there’s a vast array of dishes you can prepare with it. Some of the most popular curry dishes are butter chicken, channa masala, daal, basmati rice, and samosas.
“The most sought-after curry is chicken curry, although beef, lamb, and goat curry are quite popular as well. Just because curries are made using many different spices doesn’t mean that they’re spicy. The spice level of a curry can be regulated by the amount of black pepper and cayenne in it. You can always take it up a notch by adding more cayenne if you’d like,” says Shalu Persaud, Owner & Operator of Dosti Eats in Barrie.
Vegetarian dishes and plant-based foods are very popular, so Indian vegetarian dishes are a hit because they offer lots of flavour and are made with fresh ingredients such as onion, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and ginger.
Many of these ingredients have health benefits as well, says Persaud. Onion is loaded with antioxidants, garlic has few calories and helps battle the common cold, turmeric helps prevent heart disease and slows the progression of Multiple Sclerosis, coriander clears up your skin and protects your eyes, cumin helps fight anemia and improves digestion, and ginger is excellent for the brain and can reduce nausea.
With so many different curries to choose from, there’s likely a good chance you’ll discover your personal favourite.