The History Of Curry

When many people think of Indian food, they think of curry. While there are countless traditional dishes we serve at our Chantilly restaurant, curry might be the most recognizable among those who didn’t grow up eating Indian cuisine — mostly because curry, as we know it today, does not look a whole lot like traditional cuisine from India and can be found pretty much anywhere in the world. This dish might seem pretty standard, but there is a lot of history behind it. In today’s blog, we’re going to talk a little more about this not-so-traditional dish, where it came from, and where you can get it today!

But first, if you found this page because you were craving the best curry in Chantilly, then be sure to check out our menu. You can call in an order and take it to go, or feel free to sit down and join us for a meal!

What Is Curry?

Before we talk about the history of curry, let’s discuss what curry actually is when referring to a culinary dish. Curry refers to meat and vegetables cooked in a spiced sauce or gravy, usually including flavorful spices like cumin, coriander, ginger, chillies, and of course, turmeric, which gives curry its distinctive bright yellow or orange color that you know so well. Curry can be wet and saucy or dry with little liquid, and is almost always served with rice or naan — or both! And while curry is commonly served at Indian restaurants, much of its history comes from Europe. In fact, the national dish of England isn’t fish and chips or bangers and mash, but chicken tikka masala, a curry!

The History Of Curry

The word curry comes from a Tamil word, kari, which means “sauce,” and more specifically, a saucy mixture of spices, meat, and vegetables. It is believed the word became ‘curry’ when British and Indian merchants traded goods and spices with the East India Company, when the dish and spices used to make it were introduced. So while menus at Indian restaurants often keep traditional wording for this dishes, you are more likely to see the anglicized ‘curry,’ rather than ‘kari.’

Curry’s first recorded appearance in English cuisine, where it truly gained popularity, was in the mid-1700s, but was likely cooked regularly in the country for quite some time before that. By the 1800s, as the spice trade continued to thrive, curry was being served in Great Britain at specialty coffee houses and in restaurants, as well as showing up in more and more cookbooks. By this time, the British could purchase ‘curry powder’ at just about any store or market — these powders typically included a mix of turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Even though this type of curry was largely influenced by British tastes, it was still touted as an Indian food. The British added their own spin to what was inspired by traditional Indian cuisine, and that version of curry has spread throughout the world far beyond Europe.

Our Curries

The curries we make at Charcoal Chicken are a wonderful mixture of traditional and new, and we’ve created a large menu that includes your familiar classic curry, as well as some lesser known options like saag gosht (a curry with a creamed spinach base) and daal (a lentil curry).   

If you’re curious about curry, you’ll be happy to know that at Charcoal Chicken, we offer both meat and vegetable curries, so no matter what you’re craving, we’ve got it! From our famous butter chicken to our malai kofta (vegetable dumplings stuffed with sweet and savory raisins and farmer’s cheese), we have plenty of curries to choose from. Call in an order for pickup today or join us for lunch or dinner at our Indian restaurant in Chantilly!


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