If we were to choose the number one, iconic meal that the majority of people would associate with Indian cuisine, surely the only possible answer is that of a curry?
Despite the fact that variations of this dish crop up in a number of other culinary traditions, such as the coconut curries of Thai cuisine or the sweet and sour flavours of Chinese food, it is India that truly takes the curry crown in terms of variety and versatility. After all with the range of colourful ingredients and aromatic spices this country uses to create hundreds of versions of this famous dish, surely there is a recipe out there to match the tastes of any foodie?
India is a bubbling, melting pot of diverse cultures and religions and each brings their own traditions, preferences and cooking techniques to the table. They all contribute to a cuisine that has become one of the shiniest gems in the treasure chest of global food. These different influences become evident as you journey around the different regions of the country with curries changing form slightly as certain tastes, textures and ingredients take centre-stage, dependent on the area. Let’s take a closer look at curry around the country of India.
The north of India has a cooking tradition intrinsically linked with influences from the kitchens of the Mughal rulers. Renowned for their experimental innovations in the kitchen and their predilection for playing with flavour combinations, the opulent Mughals created dishes rich in ghee and decadent desserts. Luxurious gravies were favoured, such as the silky, smooth sauce of the korma, and meat-based curries featuring chicken or mutton were used to great effect.
Kashmir offers up the famous rogan josh, a UK curry house favourite, resplendent with its bright, red colouring and rich with meat, chosen to fight off the chill in the colder months. Additionally, the Punjab, famous for its mouth-watering, comfort food, provides flavoursome curries thickened with butter, cream or ghee. Butter chicken or murgh makhani is an excellent example of this.
Generally, the curries of the north have a tendency towards a thicker, drier kind of gravy than those of the south – one that is more easily mopped up with warm flatbreads such as chapattis.
If you are a fan of spicy curries, then get thee to South India. This region is renowned for having some of the hottest curries in the country. Andhra Pradesh uses red and green chillies in abundance whilst Goa is the birthplace of the world famous vindaloo. This spicy curry is a fiery number and was originally made with pork. However, it is more likely to feature lamb or chicken on the menus of some of London’s best Indian brasseries.
Karnataka and Kerala are coastal states and the south as a whole is also a major player in the field of coconut production. As you can imagine from this winning combination, seafood curries swimming in creamy, coconut milk based sauces prevail in this region. Expect liberal helpings of sliced, red chillies to feature heavily too…