Expand your U.K. IQ: Curry — the hot dish in the U.K.
October 18, 2006
“Let’s go for a curry.”
America is full of its own peculiar adaptations of foreign food staples that originated in other parts of the globe. Slices of pizza pie in New York or countless burrito stands in California are a testament to Americans’ love of anything that tastes good.
But Britain boasts a national cultural cuisine that hasn’t taken such a strong hold in the States. The English like to “go for a curry.”
Going for a curry isn’t as simple as it sounds. According to curryhouse.co.uk, the phrase encapsulates a variety of dishes that originated on the Indian subcontinent. “Curry” generally means a broad set of soup and stew dishes that contain hints of garlic, onion, tumeric, chili and oil, among other ingredients. The dishes, ranging from a pungent chicken dish over rice to the more pedestrian and creamy chicken tikka masala, have established a place in the English gut during the past 50 years.
Nearly every city and town across the isle has a curry restaurant ready to serve that yen.
While the precise evolution of curry in England is debated, it likely had to do with the British imperial presence in India, where a taste was developed for strong spices and seasoning in aromatic dishes that often include lamb, beef or chicken. As those spices were brought back to England, the British reproduced these dishes, according to www.house-foods.com.
Most curry meals begin with pappadum, a thin fried bread that is served with sweet mango chutney and a salsa-like mix of chopped vegetables.
But like in America, curry dishes from across India have been assimilated and approximated, presenting a tamer culinary experience than what would be had down there. In fact, chicken tikka masala, that British staple, was invented in the U.K. by Bangladeshi restaurants, just like deep-friend, syrupy sweet-and-sour chicken at your favorite Asian restaurant back home has no doppelganger in Asia proper.
Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org