At its core, curry is a dish that comprises meat, vegetables, rice and a variety of hot spices or sauces. Ask any chef from around the world and they might give you a different recipe for his or her particular curry.
Curry originated in India thousands of years ago, with locals using spices derived from indigenous curry trees, which are abundant in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Combining these spices with another regional staple, rice, Indians added veal, poultry or fish along with a combination of veggies to their cuisine, forming the patented curry dish most people are familiar with.
However, curry is largely dependent upon geography and availability of ingredients, meaning the true definition of curry is highly fluid to this day. Culinary students interested in adding curry to their repertoire should experiment with how they can utilize local flavors to their advantage.
What makes curry curry?
Curry is mostly known for its kick, and some chefs classify anything slathered in a spicy sauce or rub to be curry. The spice traditionally comes from dried hot chilies mixed with coriander, turmeric and cumin.
Served in a bowl, curry takes on a red, orange or brown color depending on the exact makeup of the spice and the base ingredients used.
In terms of meat, some curry enthusiasts prefer to go without it. In this case, coconut, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas, onions and noodles are common substitutes. On the other hand, meat lovers can enjoy curry with chicken, beef, fish, pork and lamb for starters, which brings a more hearty and tender flavor to the dish.
Curry in the West
The Indian sub-continent, along with Southeast Asia, is where the most prominent curry dishes come from. Modern Thai, Indian and Asian restaurants still try to adhere to the original flavors, but it’s not uncommon to find Western-infused curry dishes as well.
For one, curry powder is a specific blend of spices the British sold commercially throughout the 19th century. As such, Western exposure to curry mostly derives from a British imitation of Southeast Asian spices. From then on, any dish that was covered in this British curry powder was given the general moniker of “curry” regardless of how much of the contents actually had roots in Indian and Asian cultures.
This demonstrates how curry’s versatility and accessibility has made it a go-to option for chefs looking to expand their menus and embed their own regional flavors.
Curry for your tastes
Including Colorado staples in curry dishes could be a great way to blend East and West, or more specifically, East and the Rockies.
Some foods to consider experimenting with are:
- Rocky Mountain Oysters
- Green Chili
- Braised duck
- Sweet corn
These well-known Colorado favorites will bring a touch of familiarity to your curry dishes, replacing some of the other poultry, veal and veggies that are more commonly used.
Additionally, Colorado has a long history of Mexican-infused cuisine as well, so applying Mexican spices and sauces could add even more local flair to your curry.