Tears On My Pilau: the Poor, Misunderstood Curry


We need a new word for curry that isn’t "curry". (How about Real Curry?)

Curry is a modern word – from the South Indian kari – and in Britain and the United States, it refers to a dish that isn’t usually called "curry" anywhere else in the world. Of the endless benefits arising from increasing Western multiculturalism is the fact that our curries are coming under closer scrutiny, accompanied with questions like “is this actual food?” and “I think something went wrong here”.

Curry is associated with many, many bad things. A catastrophic overabundance of oil. A paint-stripping level of spicy heat, the product of 200 years of machismo one-upping. Appalling indigestion. An unfortunate association with beer. The list goes on. And in the process,  the art of healthy, delicious Indian cooking – with or without meat, mild or warm, dry or creamy – was steamrollered under the Anglicized word curry. That’s the crime we need to address here.

Thanks to the hard work of knowledgeable, influential people like Delhi-born cook and actress Madhur Jaffrey, Indian cookery has almost claimed the place it deserves in the kitchen of the discerning, health-conscious, eco-conscious cook.

Healthy? Eco-friendly? 

Indeed. Ginger is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon is terrific at keeping your airways clear. Cloves – keeping toothache, sore throats and colds at bay, naturally. Cumin relieves cramps. Turmeric is at the forefront of the fight against cancer. And on and on. And Indian cooking, real Indian cooking, is built on a bedrock of vegetarianism. Even if you’re a meat-eater, you’ll eat much less meat –  and that’s a planet-saving strategy.

Let’s hear it for Real Curry.

Image: digiyesica

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.