Indian cuisine is rightfully awarded a top spot in the best cuisines of the world and encompasses a wide geographical area along with hundreds of different cultures, local produce, spices and traditions influencing the world-renowned and celebrated cuisine. If you have heard of or tasted Indian food, you are most likely to have come across the ubiquitous Curry.
Let us dive a little deeper into this fascinating dish, its history and what makes a good curry great. We shall also explore Indian curries that pair well with the famous Indian flatbread – Naan. The next time you are at an Indian restaurant, you’ll have no trouble picking your curry and can be sure to enjoy a heart-warming and memorable meal!
The History of Curry
In the 1400s, when the Portuguese first came to India’s southern shores in search of exotic spices such as black pepper, cardamom and cloves, they had a taste of the local spicy stew served with rice and named it ‘carel’ after the Tamil word ‘kari.
Later when the British seized control of India, they anglicised the word into ‘curry’ – a term that now describes a wide range of gravies spanning various regional cuisines in India. What made a curry was generally a thick base of tomato and onion along with Indian spices, served with rice or flatbread.
Curry today has been adapted by cuisines across the world and have their unique take on this humble yet hearty dish. The savoury and spice aspect remains constant although the fieriness and heat varies according to different palates and cultural preferences.
India’s food map is nothing short of interesting and curry is tweaked to suit geographical and cultural conditions. Along the subcontinent’s coast you can find more fish or seafood-based curry along with the addition of creamy coconut or coconut milk. Inland regions might have thinner and spicier meat and vegetable-based curries while the colder Northern regions have thicker, more spice-heavy curries to combat colder weather.
Despite its multifarious renditions, curry remains an Indian staple and favourite and is readily paired with rice or flatbread to make for a fantastic and fulfilling dish.
The Versatile Indian Naan
One of the most popular Indian flatbreads – Naan, is made by kneading a dough of all purpose flour, dry yeast, salt and water which is then made into balls, flattened and tandoor baked.
The clay oven or tandoor renders a distinct char and crispy edges. Naan is generally mild and makes for the perfect accompaniment to rich and spicy Indian curries. Naan is also versatile and can be enjoyed plain or with a bevy of toppings such as melted butter, garlic, cheese, herbs and so on. It can even be stuffed with potato mash, cottage cheese and more to create a more sumptuous bread offering.
Naan and Curry
Naan and curry go together like bread and butter and there are a bevy of flavourful Indian curries that you can dip your naan into. Here a few must-tries:
A hearty dish of black lentils cooked and seasoned with garlic, tomato and cumin makes for a great accompaniment with Indian bread such as naan. It is topped with a lusciously buttery glaze for a sumptuous curry to dip naan into.
Meat cooked in a thick, aromatic broth of secret spices hailing from the Karur region of South India. Usually prepared with mutton or chicken meat.
Kurma curries are packed with spices for flavour over heat. The use of heavy spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and cloves is balanced with yogurt or coconut for a hearty preparation that can be enjoyed with naan.
An Indian favourite that pairs well with both rice and bread; succulent chicken cubes simmered in a creamy tomato sauce with notes of spice, dry fenugreek leaves and a glaze of butter.
A North Indian delicacy of puréed spinach cooked down with onions, butter and chilli into a sumptuous gravy finished with the addition of soft and delicious cottage cheese cubes.
An opulent curry of fried cottage cheese dumplings slow-simmered in a subtle, aromatic and creamy cashew-based sauce, perfect with plain or garlic naan.
An Indian specialty curry of julienned chicken cooked into a spiced bed of capsicum, onion and tomato, a treat when eaten with hot naan.
A Kashmiri delicacy of tender lamb cooked in caramelized onion, bright Kashmiri red chilli and a handful of select Indian spices.
A humble yet delicious blend of roasted coconut and spices cooked with brown chickpea.
Egg Roast Curry:
Hard-boiled eggs tossed in a spicy mixture of caramelised onion, ripe tomatoes and select spices from the Malabar region of India.
Creamy tomato and onion curry base with select spices enhanced by char-grilled meat or cottage cheese.
A traditional rustic dish from the Chettinad Region – succulent boneless chicken cooked in a spice-accentuated curry base and secret hand-ground aromats.
The above are just a few of India’s deliciously exotic and enthralling curries. Try out The Madras Diaries’ range of sumptuous curries and hearty naan for a true Indian feast!