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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Curry 101

      Curry is a complex melange of ingredients  that vary by geographical region.

My husband and I are soon heading to Singapore and Malaysia prior to joining our group of Wine-Knows in Vietnam for a two week tour.  We’re going a week early to take cooking classes on Penang Island.  But, not just any cooking class.  This one comes very highly recommended by one of our clients who has returned twice.  I am told that this curry class is the bomb.

Curry is a complex combination of several spices and herbs that vary from country to country. Archaeological evidence, dating back to 2600 BC, indicates that it probably originated in India.  Nonetheless, curry has spread to all neighboring countries of India (e.g. Pakistan, Nepal) and is now a traditional dish of all the Southeast Asia nations.  Even China utilizes curry, as does the Philippines.  Trade routes also took curry to Africa where it still plays a huge role in many African nation’s cuisines.

All curries are known for their special aromatic qualities.  Most of them contain coriander, cumin and turmeric as base ingredients.  Depending on the country (and even the geographical region within the same country), the following are examples of possibilities that can appear in varying proportions and combinations:   ginger, star anise, fenugreek, garlic, lemon grass, galangal (a cousin of ginger), kaffir lime, mustard, fennel, cinnamon, tamarind, pepper, and chiles.

Curry seasonings are used to flavor a variety of dishes.  Often used in meat dishes, curry can also be used with poultry, fish and even vegetable dishes.  It can appear in appetizers, as well as the entree, side dishes, and even on occasion, in desserts.

Curry was so loved by the British Colonial government in India during the 18th century, that Indian merchants decided to make it commercially for sale.  A powdered form of this mélange of enticing spices and herbs was very popular with Brits who took buckets of it with them when they returned to England.  Curry powder is now probably available in every large supermarket throughout the world.

Stay tuned for recipes from our cooking class in Malaysia and best wines for pairing with curry dishes.

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