Hurry, hurry, it’s curry – week

Excitingly, National Curry Week 2012 has been going on in the United Kingdom and, as we are kinda part of the territory when it damn well suits us, we’re gonna geg in on it down here, too.

So we have until the official end date of Sunday, 14 October to get snarfin’ the good stuff, which is awesome as long as nobody over there in the muthaland tries to tell us how to run our finances or anything.

In fact, to be serious for a sec, many restaurants hold special nights for charity which is pretty excellent isn’t it. This year, the onus is to contribute to the alleviation of poverty and suffering in South Asia and worldwide particularly Water Projects with 1.4 million children dying from water-related diseases every year. A very worthy cause to support whilst you scamper through the aftermath of a vindaloo or two.

We thought we’d ask Dr. Curry McChillipowder, definitely a real person, to tell us more about the broad church of the magnificent curry.

“Although the ancestral home of ‘curry’ is the Indian sub-continent, the cuisine has become one of the widest food styles enjoyed in the world and has spread with a variety of amendments and innovations to many countries the world over,” says Dr. Chillipowder, speaking through salt tears of ineffable joy, when we call him on his batphone in his secret underground lair (Dunroamin) just outside West Bromwich.

“Foremost amongst its fans are the people of Great Britain who have adopted curry as their ‘national dish’ with over 9,000 restaurants and the creation of British/Asian dishes such as chicken tikka masala and balti. Britain is probably the curry centre of the world on a per head of population reckoning but everywhere the cuisine is enjoyed has its own variations and peculiarities,” he says.

That’s true; every region of the world has a version of curry, which is based around different pastes and ingredients.

And as Dr. McChillipowder wanders off to his day job as a cyborg ant breeder, he points us at a living repository of facts who is lurking rather oddly in a pig sty, blinking and with eyes pointing to several different points of the compass. This dubious character mumbles some stuff at us, which it’s entirely possible we mishear on occasion, because his mouth is largely full of straw and mud. At least, we hope it’s mud. Anyway.

Cuniform tablets dated to 1700 BCE found near Babylon in Mesapotamia contained recipes for meat with a sauce and bread probably as an offering to the god Marduk.

The Portuguese introduced chillies to Cochin and Calicat in India in 1501 and by 1543 three varieties were being grown successfully locally – they were originally known as goan pepper.

The British, er, acquired (i.e. invaded then stole) Bombay in 1661 and Calcutta in 1690 opening the spice trade to a much wider market.

A style of curry powder was introduced to UK in seventeenth century along the lines of the popular kitchen pepper used in recipes since 1682 with ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmegs and cinnamon.

It was rumoured that Steve Jobs was becoming greatly interested in 3D food printing and was planning an app called iPhal in the future.

The first restaurant tandoor was built in the Moti Mahal in New Delhi in 1948.

The first commercial curry powder appeared in Britain in 1780, introduced by Sorlander from the East Indies .

Japanese curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan where people eat it 62 times a year on average.

One of the ingredients in Worcestershire Sauce created by two chemists Mr Lea and Mr Perrin in 1835 is ‘devils dung’ – the pungent medley of garlic and onion known as hing, or asafoetida.

Chilli is the most popular spice in the world and can help combat heart attacks and strokes and extends blood coagulation times preventing harmful blood clots.

Curry first appeared on a commercial menu at a Coffee House in Norris Street, Haymarket in 1773 but the first dedicated Indian restaurant was the Hindostanee Coffee House in 1809/10.

Phil Collins is said to be allergic to the word “curry”.

Hannah Glasse, born and raised in Hexham, produced the first known printed recipe for modern “currey” in Glasse’s Art of Cookery in 1747.

One of the best ever skewerings of post-pub drunken Brits is called Going Out For An English, on the ace show Goodness Gracious Me. Check it out online.

Prince Axel of Denmark first met Edward Palmer at the Empire Exhibition at Wembley on May 2nd 1924. When Palmer opened Veeraswamy’s in London the Prince visited and was so entranced he ordered a case of the royal lager Carlsberg to be delivered each year, thus making lager the drink of choice in Indian restaurants for many years to come.

When you go out for a curry, please share. It’s really annoying when people just get one and eat all of that. Seriously. You get more cool stuff this way.

Biryani was brought to Hyderabad by the invading army of Aurangazeb under Khaja Abid, the father of the first Nizam. The dish was a ready-to-eat food for the soldiers during time of war.

The amount of rice on the planet is said to be equivalent to the amount of rainforest cut down to form a London bus the size of Wales which, placed end on end, would stretch to the moon and back twice.

Korma is a greatly misunderstood curry. Korma is “slow cooking or braising” rather than meaning a mild curry as it has become accepted in Britain. It can actually be very mild or fiery hot, with rich ingredients.

Curry is without doubt the most awesome food in the universe.

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