Welcome to Authentic Curry Recipes

Curry – A Journey

Due to a childhood in the Middle East, I was practically brought up on curry.  My first memories of it are eating curried goat in the fire station of Dubai airport in about 1962.  My dad was the airport manager and the Chief Fire Officer and his family were our good friends and neighbours.  The firemen cooked for our two families – fiery hot curry for the adults and a much milder version for us kids.  Some of the men were of Arabic origins and some of Indian so I think the resulting meal was something of a mixture.

I remember we were offered chairs and cutlery but we preferred to sit on the floor and in the traditional manner, ate only with our right hands.   This posed something of a problem for my mother as she was left-handed – she avoided making inexcusable gaffes by sitting on her left hand until the meal was over.

We learnt to roll rice into balls and with the aid of chapattis (wheat flour flatbreads), scooped up the curry and popped it into our mouths without making too much mess.  I don’t think I ate curry again in that way until many years later when I visited Goa and, at a spice plantation, was once again faced with banana leaf plates and fingers only.  Bizarrely, in a nearby clearing, was a pink porcelain, pedestal hand basin with a hose pipe attached to the tap, fully supplied with soap and hand towels.

During those days of being expatriates in foreign lands, the British developed a liking for curry lunch on a Sunday.  Doubtless this originated in India in the days of the Raj but still found its way to the Middle East and Africa.    A group of friends would gather either at one of their houses or the local club.  There would be beers or gins and tonics first (cola or fizzy orange for the kids).  There wouldn’t be a choice of curries, as I recall, it was always chicken and no matter where we ate it and it always tasted the same.  The accompaniments didn’t vary much either but we didn’t mind.  There would be poppadoms, mango chutney and a variety of sambals – chopped fruits and salad stuff which might include any or all of banana, pineapple, apple, tomato, cucumber, onion, desiccated coconut, peanuts and raisins or sultanas.  With luck there would be chapattis too.

My next curry experiences were back in England.  How different it all was.  Indian restaurants furnished in red velvet with flocked wallpaper in gold.  All sorts of different curries – not only the main ingredient but the mix of spices and flavourings.  There were choices of plain or spicy poppadoms, different breads and vegetable curries and dahls as well, no sambals though!   On the down side, these curries were often rather greasy and we always thought of them as being terribly fattening – naughty but oh so nice!  The saviour, if conscience got the better of us was Tandoori-cooked meats.  These were marinated in yoghurt and spice paste and cooked in a Tandoor (an earthenware charcoal oven), so were in effect grilled and much healthier.

Change again then when I finally visited India in 1988 and discovered that meat curries were the exception rather than the rule.  Many Indians are vegetarians so paneer (similar to cottage cheese) is popular as are the many dishes made with pulses and vegetables.  There was no trace of the greasiness found in restaurants in the UK and the flavours were quite different too.

This voyage of discovery culminated in a determination to learn how to reproduce Indian food in my own home so if that’s why you’re here too I hope you like the authentic curry recipes you can find in the blog posts.  Check out the categories for curries of different types and from different countries.  If you’d like to see more categories, just get in touch from the Contact Us page.

Liz Canham

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Curry Rice in Japan

Visitors to Japan may be surprised at the popularity and volume of curry rice served and eaten in Japan. Curry rice in Japan is actually different from curry and rice, or rice and curry, which started on the Indian subcontinent, spread throughout South Asia, and then moved to other parts of the world. In Japan, if you would like to provide a meal that almost everybody will eat, curry rice may be your best option. Few people dislike curry rice.

Although curry leaves are from the curry tree, a tree native to India, not all curry contains curry leaves. When we hear rice and curry, or curry and rice, curry does not refer to the curry tree. Curry is thought to come from the Tamil word “kari,” which refers to gravy or sauce, not spices. Curry uses a wide range of different spices that vary according to the dish and the region.

We visited the Curry Spices Department at Wally’s Delicatessen and found the following spices listed: bay leaves, cardamom pods, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, cinammon sticks, coriander powder, cumin powder, curry powder, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, garam masala, paprika, black peppercorns, turmeric, curry leaves, star aniseed, coconut milk, tamarind paste, vegetable ghee. The British spellings are because Wally’s is in England.

Curry in Japan is served in a number of ways including curry rice, curry udon, curry bread, curry buns, katsu curry, and dry curry. Curry rice is simply curry served partly over and partly next to rice in the same shallow bowl. Curry udon is curry served over udon, which are thick wheat noodles. Curry bread is bread with curry inside. The last one, curry buns, are just like the pork buns you can find in Chinese dim sum and other restaurants. Instead of pork inside, the buns have curry inside. Katsu curry can use deep fried chicken, but it is usually a deep fried pork cutlet on rice with curry poured on top of it and next to it. The word “katsu” comes from cutlet. Dry curry is simply curry without all the sauce. Dry curry is served over rice too.

Returning to the difference between curry rice served in Japan and the rice and curry from the Indian subcontinent, curry rice can almost be thought of as a sweet curry flavored stew. The sweetness comes from fruit. House Foods Corporation is the largest curry company in Japan. One of their most popular brands, Vermont Curry, was launched in 1963.

S&B Foods, Inc. is another major Japanese curry company. We visited their home page to discover what they call the Japanese curry story. According to S&B, the first Japanese to eat curry and rice was Kenjiro Yamakawa when he was served curry and rice on a ship while traveling to the United States in 1871. Yet, the Japanese curry story tells us that he only ate the rice. We are left unsure of who actually was the first Japanese to eat curry. The S&B story continues, telling us that a curry recipe was introduced to Japan in 1872.

The Japanese viewed curry as Western since the British introduced it to Japan, not the Indians or other Asians. Now curry is an economical dish and most curry restaurants are economical too. In 1870s Japan, however, curry and rice was expensive. The S&B narrative tells us that the cost for curry rice was 800% more than a bowl of plain noodles.

After 1872, curry became increasingly popular in Japan. Japanese chefs altered the recipe, creating the curry that we eat today in Japan. If you live in the United States and would like to try Japanese-style curry, you could either find packaged Japanese curry or you could look for a Japanese curry restaurant. The Japanese curry packages are sold in many Asian grocery stores. Preparing and cooking the curry is just like preparing and cooking stew. For Japanese curry restaurants, check the Internet for one near you. If you live in California, you might want to try one of the 11 Curry House restaurants in California, a restaurant chain owned by House Foods America Corporation. We can’t guarantee you will like the curry, but having Japanese curry may be a pleasant experience.

Aaron Language Services on the web at
http://www.aaronlanguage.com
is a translation and editing business primarily serving a Japanese client base. We are always looking for experienced editors specializing in medicine and the hard sciences. Click personnel on the menu on our top page.

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