Curry is a generic description used throughout Western culture to describe a variety of spiced dishes, especially from Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Thai or other South and Southeast Asian cuisines.
The word curry is widely believed to be a corruption of the Tamil word Kari, variously meaning something like sauce, cooked vegetables or meat.
Curry powder is a mixture of spices of widely varying composition based on South Asian cuisine. A similar mixture of spices used in north India is called garam masala but curry powder is actually closer to the south Indian sambhar powder.
Masala refers to spices, and this is the name given to the thick and pasty sauce based on a combination of spices with ghee (clarified butter), butter, palm oil or coconut milk.
Three spices found in most curry powders are turmeric, coriander, and cumin; a wide range of additional spices may be included depending on the geographic region and the foods being included (meats, fish, lentils, rice, etc.).
Most recipes and producers of curry powder usually include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper in their blends. Depending on the recipe, additional ingredients such as ginger, garlic, asafoetida, fennel seed, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, green cardamom, black cardamom, mace, nutmeg, long pepper, and black pepper may also be added.
The word “curry” is analogous to “soup” or “stew” in that there is no particular ingredient that makes something “curry”.
The taste can vary from very mild to very spicy.
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