The Origins of Curry

With National Curry Week taking place from 22nd to 28th October, we had a thought. As one of the most diverse restaurants in Worcester, why not share the true origins of one of the nation’s favourite dishes?

The origins of curry are, if you will excuse the pun, a hot topic. However you like your yours – dry, hot, spicy or mild – there’s a curry dish for everyone. But where did the meal come from?

Historically, “curry” was first used to name a form of British cuisine that doesn’t resemble the meal we know and love today; this version included leftover meat that was served with curry powder seasoned sauce. While we say curry, ‘kari’ means sauce in Tamil, which is a South Indian language and may have influenced the English name. Curry powder is, in fact, a creation for Western consumption; the mixture of spices dates back to the 18th century and was sold to appeal to travellers, the army and the British Colonial Government returning to England.

Names & Recipes

The first published curry recipe in England came about in 1747 and appeared in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery. The recipe was entitled ‘How to make currey the India way’ and by today’s standards, would actually taste more like an aromatic stew. ‘Authentic’ Indian curries derive from the Indian subcontinent (these are areas that are recognised as having existed prior to gaining their independence). In original and traditional cuisines – not the modern versions we have taken elements from – spices for each dish can vary based on national and regional cultural tradition, not to mention religious practices and family preferences! This is why a lot of traditional dishes have names that refer to ingredients, chosen spices and cooking methods. If the names leave you confused as to taste, a good rule of thumb is to remember that dishes of north Indian origin tend to be mild, with recipes from the south of India tending to be hotter in flavour.

Curry in the UK

Curry was first served in Britain in 1809 within coffee houses. 1810 saw Sake Dean Mahomed open the first dedicated Indian curry house in England and is it believed that Worcestershire sauce came into existence by accident in the 19th century when someone attempted to make curry. By the mid-20th century, curries of many different national styles had found a dedicated base of diners. With many dishes finding popularity far from their original source, curry is now widely recognised as part of international fusion cuisine.

On the subject of fusion, curry has also become an integral part of British cuisine. Since the late 1990s, chicken tikka masala has been referred to as “a true British national dish” despite being derived from Indian tikka; masala sauce was added as British people love a good sauce!

After all that information, we aren’t going to get into the argument about Balti being created in Birmingham in the 1970s. Many believe it to be a fusion of Pakistani-Brummie dining, but that’s another blog for another day…

If your tummy is rumbling, then you will be delighted to know that ahead of National Curry Week, we are one of the few Worcester hotels that will be serving our very own Indian Feast! From the 8th to the 14th of October you can dine in either our Sportsman’s Bar or Pear Tree Brasserie and try a dish you might not have ordered before. Tuck into Lamb Jalfrezi, Beef Madras, Chicken Korma or Vegetable Dopiaza. All will be served with Rice, Naan Bread, Poppadum & Chutney for only £8.95! Find out more here.

To dine at one of the most diverse restaurants in Worcester, contact us today.

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