Reviews of Curry: A Global History
How did curry become so popular around the world, and how have its manifestations changed over time? These issues – and more – are taken up by Colleen Taylor Sen, whose Curry: A Global History offers a fascinating look into the origins of curry and its ubiquity around the globe today.
Chicago-based food writer Colleen Taylor Sen’s book Curry: A Global History, recently released in India by Speaking Tiger, throws light on the Indian staple, as she takes us through a culinary escapade that invades kitchens beyond the subcontinent to find out what the curry means to the world. “It is probably the most universal dish,” Sen tells us over email. “There’s hardly a place on earth where people don’t enjoy the curry. It’s also versatile and can be made with almost any ingredient,” she adds.
Food writer Colleen Taylor Sen explains how Indian curry has travelled the world
“India has no national cuisine or national dish,” observes Chicago-based food writer and journalist Colleen Taylor Sen, in her recent book, Curry: A Global History. The reason, she points out, is the country’s ethnic, linguistic, cultural, climatic and culinary diversity, makes it impossible to highlight one particular dish.
However, despite this diversity, there is one Indian dish that has travelled around the world, from North America to Fiji, and reincarnated itself in various avatars — curry.
Colleen Taylor Sen takes a strictly geographical approach to “Curry: A Global History.” Her definition of the dish is broad: hot sambals of Indonesia, South African bobotie, Australian concoctions of curried mutton and rice, and Goan-Portuguese vindaloo, to name a few. Her penultimate chapter ends with entertaining descriptions of Japan’s curry obsession. Schoolchildren there have voted it their favorite lunch food, and Japanese curry chains have been exported to the United States. It’s fair to come away from this skimmable treatise with the notion that curry is globally beloved because it’s cheap to prepare and, in the case of Indian curries, imbued with antibacterial properties. The book’s relatively extensive collection of recipes includes goat, turkey, chicken, beef, fish and vegetarian curries, both old and new. (Note to the Edible Series graphics director: “Stink lines” hovering above a bowl of noodles sauced with curry, as seen on the cover and repeated inside, are not so appetizing.) (Read the full article on The Washington Post.)
Curry, in the culinary lexicon, is intrinsically associated with the routine Indian meal. Be it fish, meat or vegetable, the dishes are primarily curry-based, which is mostly relished with rice or roti. But this culinary delicacy now has a global identity.
And Colleen Taylor Sen’s latest book, “Curry: A Global History”, explores how recipes associated with curries have evolved with time and been widely accepted throughout the world.
Going through Sen’s compact yet comprehensive book, one realises that curry, or at least, curry powder, may have been India’s largest culinary export – largely, due to the ‘tides of Imperialism’ and the fact that India was an important trade destination throughout history.