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The history of curry goes back a long way. In fact, there is evidence of it being used in 1700 BC Mesopotamia. While use of curry probably originated in India, it was used in England as early as the 1300’s and probably even earlier. Mention of its use can be found in the first book written on English cooking, written during the time of Richard II (late 1300s).

Curry is used in the cuisine of almost every country and can be incorporated into a dish or even a drink. The word comes from “Kari” which is from the Tamil language and was later anglicized into “curry”1. Curry powder itself is not a single spice but a blend of different spices and can be mild or hot. This golden colored spice is one of the oldest spice mixes and is most often associated with Indian cuisine.

Interestingly enough, the word curry has a different meaning on the Western world then in India. In India, curry refers to a gravy or stew dish. Typically these dishes contain the Indian spice mix garam masala along with ginger, chili, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sometimes onion and garlic, but it can be made up of many things. In India different curry ingredients are regional. In the West, when we think of curry, we think of curry powder or dishes seasoned with it.

While you might not think that the English would like curry, it’s spread to England is attributed to the British Raj whose personnel acquired a taste for the spicy foods when stationed there. These dishes and recipes were brought back home and the British made them to suit their own tastes.

While we mostly associate curry with hot and spicy peppers, the original Indian curry did not have any peppers in it since chili peppers or red peppers were not native to India. It wasn’t until Christopher Columbus brought chili seeds back from the new world and they were traded to India did they make their way into Indian cooking to become part of the spicy curries we know and love today.

Because of the long history of curry and its adaptation into so many different cuisines, curry itself can have many different tastes and colors. Although we usually associate the golden yellow color (from the tumeric) and pungent spice with the term curry, it can be mild or firey hot and come in a variety of colors. But no matter what spices you mix in your curry - it’s guaranteed to always be exotic and tasty!

Making Curry
Curry Powder is a mix of spices which varies from cook to cook. Native to India, the recipes for these mixtures are often passed down within families and can vary widely from region to region. The spice mixture itself, is put together from a blend of various other spices so there is no actual, cultivating, growing and harvesting of curry. Rather it is up to the spice maker to acquire each of the different spices.

While the individual spices that go into curry powder can vary, some popular additions include turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, coriander, ginger, garlic, fennel seed, cinnamon, clove, green cardamom, mustard seed, mace, nutmeg, long pepper, red pepper and black pepper. While all these different spices are usually not used at once, a curry spice could contain any combination of the above, and anything else the cook sees fit!

Turmeric is the most common ingredient in curry powder and is actually what gives it a golden yellow color. In Western cuisine, curry powder usually includes turmeric, chili, mustard, salt, pepper, fenugreek, cumin and coriander. In India, however, mixtures can include up to 20 or more different spices and can be red, yellow, or brown.

Depending on the desired outcome, a spice maker may consider any number of spices for producing curry powder for cooking. To tailor make cury be sure to mix spices in regular and limited proportions to avoid any one spice from taking over the mixture. To mix up a curry powder, assemble desired spices and mix them in a blender or pepper mill. In some cases, they may need to be pounded, sifted or dried as well. When done, be sure to store the resulting curry in an airtight container (in the obligatory dark cool place). Spices can lose their aroma and taste over time. They can lose their color when exposed to light.

Health Benfits of Curry
While curry might be great for tantalizing your taste buds, did you know that there are also many health benefits to this zesty mix of spices?

While curry, or curry powder is actually a mixture of any number of spices, one main spice in most curry powders is turmeric. This is the spice that gives curry it’s yellow color and is also responsible, at least in part, for some of the health benefits of curried dishes.

Among the health benefits of curry is that of reducing inflammation of the joints. In fact, recent research shows that turmeric helped to prevent the swelling of joints in rats that had arthritis. And it’s not only arthritis that it may be helpful for. Other studies suggest that this powerful spice may also help protect us against cancer, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.

But these health benefits are no surprise to those trained in Ayurvedic medicine where turmeric has been used for treating inflammatory disease for centuries.

Even one of the worlds most renowned cancer centers, MD Anderson Center in Texas, thinks that curry may help protect us against cancer. Here, animal studies have shown that curcumin, another common ingredient in curry, seems to turn off genes that can trigger the onset and spread of breast cancer. In a human study, curcumin shows some promise, in a handful of patients, in stabilizing pancreatic cancer.

There have been several studies done in the relation of curry and the prevention of Alzheimers. One test tube study showed that curcumin may help clear the brain of protein deposits thought to cause Alzheimer’s. Another study of older men in Singapore found that those who ate a lot of curry performed better in memory tests.

While more wide range clinical trails need to be done in order to prove any of the health benefits of curry, that’s no excuse not to eat a tasty dish of it a couple of times a week. Although you may need to acquire a taste for it, once you do you may find yourself reaching for the curry powder more and more often!

Since curry is a combination of many spices, there are dozens of health benefits that might be had by eating this tasty dish. Each spice has it’s own benefits and combining them can make for a powerful health boost as well as a tasty meal.

Curry in the Kitchen
Curry powder is not a spice in itself but a mixture of spices that will create a pungent, spicy, and exotic flavor in any dish. Used since ancient times, there are about as many recipes for curry powder mixture as there are cooks. Native to India, this spicy concoction can differ widely from region to region and is often handed down from mother to daughter as a family recipe. Whereas Westerners refer to the powdered spice mix as simply “curry”, in other cultures the word curry refers to any number of sauces or dishes and not the actual spices themselves.

When using curry, or rather, curry powder, in the kitchen, be sure to use a fresh mix. you can buy premixed curry powder, but since all spices lose their flavor once they are ground, you will not get the full flavor unless you can get the mix very fresh from a specialty store. However, perhaps some of the fun of cooking with curry is in making your own mixture so you might want to buy the spices yourself and make your own special blend.

Curry can actually contain 20 or more spices, but many mixtures contain much less than that. One predominant spice is turmeric which gives the curry that yellow color we are all familiar with. Other spices that may be included are: cinnamon, cardamom, chiles, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, fenugreek, mace, fennel seed, red pepper, black pepper, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, saffron and tamarind. Curry powder can be very hot or mild depending on the spices and amounts of each in the mix.

Although most closely associate with Indian cuisine, almost every culture has some form of curry that they add to their cooking. In fact, it is a key element in Caribbean, Australian, South and Southeast Asian, and Japanese cooking. While Americans have been a bit late to wake up to this wonderful taste, it is becoming more and more popular in Western dishes today and can be seen in many restaurants as an offering on dishes that range from chicken to vegetables.

Curry can be used in cooking for sauces, marinades, soups, stews or in any casserole or even to spice up burgers and in chicken and potato salads. It’s a very versatile spice mixture with a wide range of flavor possibilities and can be used for anything you like. Once you develop a taste for it, you might find yourself putting it on almost everything!

:D :mrgreen: :) 8 )
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