Curry is a diverse term. It can refer to a spice mixture, a cooking process, or a particular dish. In India the spices included in a curry powder blend often change according to geographical region. Traditionally, the mixture is blended a la minute, while one is cooking. The notion of a ready-made or already mixed curry powder began in England. Brits returning from India wanted to duplicate the curries they had eaten there and in the subcontinent and, thus, developed an easy to use blend of spices. Such blends often contain coriander seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, cumin seed, red chilli flakes, ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and cardamom seeds. For the greatest depth of flavor the individual spices should be dry sauteed before being ground. It is best to fry each spice separately as each will roast at a different rate. Curry differs from garam masala. Unlike curry powder, garam masala has no turmeric or chillis.
The earthy heat of curry works well when contrasted with other cooling elements. Ingredients such as citrus, cilantro, mint, and yogurt all work as beautiful foils for the warmth and heat of curry powder.
Curry can also refer to a savory dish that is served with a hot and spicy sauce. Traditionally the sauce was served with rice. The British variation of this dish is a stew with a small amount of rice in it.
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