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Know What A ‘Curry’ Means In India

When we in Britain think of curry, we imagine a spicy hot dish with a shimmering layer of deep red ‘Ghee’ with the aroma of chillies and masalas. Indian households don’t interpret the word curry as we do in the western world. Curry is more a word to describe the British Raj rather than Indian cuisine. The British Raj didn’t only love the curries of the Indian subcontinent but also helped invent some of the British hybrid dishes like kedgeree, mulligatawny soup and beef curries. These curries are now just as much part of us British as they are of India.

Indian curries use combinations that are a bit more unusual as opposed to western cooking. Deep- red colours of Kashmiri chillies tinged with the yellow of turmeric is evident in the majority of Indian curries. Curry typically has lots of ‘gravy’ what we in the western world would call a sauce, made with a combined mix of coriander, cumin, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, black peppercorns and nutmeg. This combination ground together is what we call the Masala. The juices from tomatoes, ginger, garlic, yoghurt, coconut milk, tamarind and water help form the luscious ‘gravy’.

Most Indian curries use onions, they have to be properly cooked which means they have to be fried in ghee until they get glistening golden brown in colour. Indian food is not only complex to understand and to produce an excellent curry is considered a real ‘mastery’ amongst industry experts.

Proper use of spices is essential the timings of when they are added and how they are cooked are based on the principles of Ayurveda – the ancient Hindu system of Health and Science. The sequence of adding spices is simple yet important.

Curry and curry powder never existed in India and If you order a curry on your next visit to India, be ready to be served a dish made with meat/vegetables with lots of spiced sauce and fresh coriander.

‘‘What is a basic Curry’’

More often than not, a dish will begin with tempering, the first stage of flavouring where whole spices are fried in ghee to infuse flavour in ghee and this is followed by addition of onions and ginger/garlic.

After these are cooked, ground spices are added, most noticeably turmeric and chilli powder. After stirring a couple of minutes, some sort of wet element is introduced.

If any poultry or red meat is being used, it will go in with ground spices. Lamb/Goat meat will be cooked on long slow fire for breaking down connective tissue, fat and for softening meats.

A final flavouring element will be used to finish a curry dish, often freshly chopped coriander and sliced green chilli. In Northern India yoghurt and in the South, fresh coconut milk is used before finishing a curry dish.

Dal dishes are finished with ‘Tadka’ which is made of garlic, ginger, curry leaves and mustard dropped in hot oil and then spooned, sizzling, over the top.

When Indian households talk of food they actually talking of ‘Life’. Food and life are interwoven and food is considered a ‘Form of God’ and therefore is highly respected. Wasting any food is almost seen as disrespecting ‘God’.

In India, you cannot walk down a street without being aware of wafting aromas, buzzing street food vendors and friendly people. Regardless of some of the serious issues like heat, dust, slums and poverty in this vast country, you won’t feel threatened. Most people are lovely people and will offer you their love and mouthwatering food. There is so much love in India.


The term ‘Curry’ is of British origin. Probably it was an easier way to name a gravy/sauce that they came to love during ‘British Raj’. The term ‘curry’ could also have been derived from the Tamil word ‘Kari” which means sauce the South Indian language. However, some of the researches show that Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) mentions a meat dish with a spiced sauce that could have been the first recorded curry. However, British manufactures came to produce the mix that we know as curry powder to make life easier and to curb need of spicy Indian food for British and today, the word ‘curry’ has become synonymous with the spicy sauce cooked with meats, fish, poultry and vegetables.

Swadish curries are as authentic as you will find in anywhere in India – authentic with a modern touch. We are proud to bring a unique combination of ancient cuisine with top class produce of the United Kingdom. Swadish menus feature regional Indian food recipes crafted by master chefs of India. There are many good Indian restaurants in the city of Glasgow and Swadish is one of the best Indian restaurants in Glasgow. It serves authentic curries with a fresh contemporary touch.

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