Growing up in Pakistan, with curry-based dishes as staple sustenance, it took me time to understand Britain’s obsession with what to me was everyday fare. I never knew the name curry that referred to the food I grew up with, for me it took many names such as shorba, salan and bhuna gosht; but never curry. I never fully appreciated the individuality of the family of dishes we call curry, the captivation it conjures and how this spice craving leads to such satisfaction. However with nearly ten years of living here, I do now fully appreciate the place curry finds in British cuisine and with it I have broadened my curry repertoire to include those from different parts of the world, experimenting with new flavours but always adopting traditional techniques. Embracing global curries is a life changing experience and will lead to a lifetime of full of flavour.
Curry is a concept that has taken centuries to develop. A name that possibly developed during the spice trade in the mid-seventeenth century, with the adoption of the indigenous South Asian flavours by British traders, its history is deep rooted in the Indian subcontinent itself. The flavours and techniques that make this ubiquitous dish were a confluence of history, invasion and fluid borders as many ingredients, styles and techniques were learnt, adapted and exported throughout South and South East Asia. The curry style does however spread beyond the subcontinent and is found in far eastern countries and beyond, and though their flavour nuances maybe quite different, they are similar in that they carry punchy flavours, boast rich home cooking and deliver a satisfying comfort.
With many culturally different flavours of curries, there are some particular favourites that have found themselves intertwined with British taste buds, ranging from the fiery hot to mild, sweet and coconut driven, to dry and richly spiced. There is something for everyone and I have picked some recipes from around Asia that have much in common with British favourites. These will allow you to move past the usual, but not compromise the essential flavour you enjoy, they highlight how similar ingredients can create such subtly different dishes merely by altering the indigenous techniques and spice blends used.
Being Curry Week in the UK it is a perfect time to add a few new recipes to your curry repertoire, these will awaken familiar flavours but bring new exciting combinations to your kitchen.