Flavor Of The East: Southeast Asian Curry

Southeast Asia is a region of the world whose history is filled with myth and legend. You have heard the stories of mystical yogis and enlightened gurus. You might have come across it while learning about Eastern cuisine in your online culinary classes.  It has been served to kings, peasants, poets, soldiers, scholars and students – the irresistible curry. Cuisine made with Indian curries range from mild to very spicy but are unforgettable.

The word curry  is derived from the Tamil word, “kari,” meaning sauce and usually identified with being cooked with meat and vegetables. According to the University of Chicago, the oldest known written record relating to curry is found in the Athenaeus from Megasthenes: “Among the Indians, at a banquet, a table is set before each individual . . . and on the table is placed a golden dish on which they throw, first of all, boiled rice . . . . and then they add many sorts of meat dressed after the Indian fashion.” Archeologists have recovered traces of plant minerals that point to evidence of curry being used as far back as 4,000 years ago, according to Andrew Lawler for Slate. The curry that we eat today comes from a long history of importing and exporting between Europe, the Americas and the Southeast Asian region which created a whole world of unique blends and spices.

Types of curry
Curry has evolved from a simple mixture of turmeric and ginger. Different parts of the region produce their own special brand of curry.

Goan curry: A curry featuring the rich flavors of wine and garlic.
Keralan curries will predominantly use coconut shavings, coconut oil, mustard seeds. and chili powder.
Tamil curry dishes from the southern part of India have a quite distinctive taste from its cousins in other regions.
For the most part, Southeast Asian curries are made with a blend of curry leaves, tamarind, coriander, ginger, garlic, chili, pepper, poppy seeds, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

Preparation tips and tricks for a sweet curry powder mix

3 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp white pepper (hard to find.  Omit if necessary.)
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper

  • Mix spices thoroughly
  • Store the blend in an air-tight container

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