Many cultures utilize curry as a mainstay of numerous ethnic and regional dishes. If you love hot and spicy foods, you are probably attracted to Indian curry dishes because when you eat curry, your body releases endorphins which makes for a pleasurable experience. Endorphins are natural pain killers and create a sense of well being in the body. The focus of this article is Indian curry.
Curry, which is a strongly flavored Eastern Indian spice is a key ingredient to Indian dishes. There are literally hundreds of variations and types of curry that are often used to create a multitude of Indian based curry sauces, but knowing a few basic types will help you decide which is your preference and which you will want to experiment with in the kitchen. It will also help you choose the right dish when dining in a restaurant specializing in Eastern Indian cuisine.
Curry comes in powdered form, paste form and prepackaged ready made form in jars and cans. If your stomach can handle spicy foods and you actually enjoy them, then the good news is that curry contains spices that are natural anti oxidants. It has also been shown to slow down Alzheimer’s disease. The most classic Indian curry generally combines coriander, tumeric, fenugreek, ginger cloves and various ground peppers. In India, curry actually means gravy, but here in America we often refer to curry as a spice and further break down kinds of curries such as sauce, paste and spice powder mixtures.
That said, let’s look at some basic varieties.
Some people enjoy sprinkling curry powder on their food, from rice to meats, fish and vegetables. They keep ready to use shakers that resemble salt and pepper shakers, and fill them with red or yellow curry powder. A light sprinkling adds flavor and kick to cooked foods.
Curry powder should be stored in a cool dry place and away from direct sunlight. You can buy curry spice already made, or you can make your own by searching for curry powder recipes on the internet. Generally, the northern region of India uses milder and fragrant flavors of curry, while the southern region of India is drawn to richer and hotter fiery type chili flavors.
Curry Pastes are generally a blending of ground spices and preserved in vegetable oils, which makes for an easy and convenient base for creating Indian sauces.
Cooking Indian Curried dishes at home is now easy, with pre-made curry sauces available in the ethnic aisle of most grocery stores. You can buy green curry, yellow curry, red curry, and specialty curries such as mango or nut enhanced, etc. With the convenience of ready-made curry sauces, you can cook your own rice or vegetable or meat or tofu based dishes and simmer them in curry for meals ready in minutes.
Red curry sauces usually contain red chile peppers, cinnamon, coriander, garlic, lemongrass, peppercorns and cumin seeds. It is typically served in combination with beef and chicken dishes.
Yellow curry, which is often made with yellow and red chiles, nutmeg, tumeric, cinnamon and other ingredients, is often served with chicken and vegetables.
Orange curry which includes shrimp paste as one of the ingredients, is generally used with seafood soups and stews.
Green Curry, which contains green chile peppers as a key ingredient, is most often served with chicken.
If you are not sure what your curry preference is, try a can of each type and sample and heat the ready made sauce on a stove top and try dipping some pita bread or steamed vegetables and rice into the curry sauce.
There are many brands of ready made curry sauce in cans and jars, and some are chunkier than others, and some are more of a thin gravy. Once you discover your favorite curry sauces, they will become a staple item in creating and recreating your favorite Indian dishes. Some like it hot. But for those who don’t, you will be happy to know that curries are also sold in MILD. Enjoy!