Whether you’re using the actual leaf of the curry plant, have a jar of curry powder in your spice cabinet at this very moment, or plan on ordering a thoughtfully composed curry and rice dish at a local restaurant this weekend, the definition of what curry actually is can be a little obscure to say the least. So, before you shop at the next spice market, add the taste of curry to your next application, or order out from your favorite corner Thai restaurant, let’s take a second to go over just what it really is.
So, what is curry, anyway?
While it might be confusing at first, the leaves from the curry tree don’t actually help to make up a curry spice blend at all. The aromatic leaves of the curry tree look like shiny little lemon leaves and have a fragrant citrusy, curry note–but aren’t an ingredient that’s used in curry powder, which is why it could be considered misleading to some. Curry leaves have a taste and aroma all their own which you’re just not going to locate anywhere else in your pantry. When used in cooking, their leaves are often fried in oil to help release their flavor and may be fished out of a dish in a very similar fashion bay leaves are used. Recipes may also suggest keeping the leaves in and this is completely okay, too–curry leaves are, in fact, edible. It all depends what you want and the overall effect you’re going for.
Curry powder is an essential spice mixture used predominantly in traditional cuisines around the world including Thailand, Myanmar, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, among many others. It’s a true amalgamation of many different spices combined together–and there’s really no one-way to create it. Curry blends vary enormously with factors including the region it’s made, the various spices used, the level of heat desired, and much more. The spices commonly used are extremely flavorful and aromatic and frequently include coriander, turmeric, cumin, ginger, garlic, black pepper, mustard, fenugreek, and chili. Some of the more intricate curry blends surprisingly have well over a dozen individual components.
And curry (as in the sauce, stew, or soup) is a dish that typically consists of a rich broth filled with fresh vegetables, meat, seafood, and other additions depending on region and preference. Curries can vary in color, too. From red, to yellow, to green, ordering curry in a restaurant or making it yourself doesn’t have to be tricky. As a general rule of thumb, red curries are known to contain a lot of capsicum, making them typically warmer in nature. Yellow curry tends to get its color from the use of turmeric. Green curries typically get their green color from the presence of herbs like basil, lime leaves, and lemongrass and the addition of ingredients such as green onions. And, don’t be fooled, green curries aren’t always mild–a kick can come from green chilis which visually fit right in once everything is blended together.
While it may not always be so simple to whip up a fresh batch of curry to incorporate into your recipe, Nature’s Flavors makes it easy to add great curry flavor whenever you want it. With products ranging from natural and organic extracts, concentrates, powders, and more, you’ll find the versatility, ease of use, and flavor profiles spot on–ready to use in your every application. Now it’s easy to travel the world through flavor–without even leaving your own kitchen!