At my first attempt at cooking curry, I learnt that I couldn’t cook curry in a hurry. It all started when I found what looked like a bar of soap with the words “coconut cream” and a curry recipe on it in a grocery store in London. It seemed like the solution to what do with some curry powder a friend had given me. I was a first year student at university and was quite clueless about cooking.
There was no harm trying, so I bought some chicken from the market near the hall where I was staying. I followed the instructions, I melted the coconut cream, I added the chicken, then the curry powder. Someone came into the pantry and asked me what I was cooking, I said: “Curry”. He looked at my pot and said: “It looks like stew!” and left. It wasn’t very encouraging. It took quite a long time and a lot of curry powder, but eventually it did look and taste like curry. As the saying goes: “Good things come to those who know how to wait.”
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learnt how important spices were in the history of the world. Europeans came to the East in search of spices. The Spice Islands in Indonesia became famous. Spices were precious commodities. Ships sailed across the world to bring spices back. It was possibly the start of globalisation.
A few years ago, an Indonesian friend cooked Japanese curry for us at home. It was a very complicated recipe. But I found it unusual, and nothing like the Japanese cuisine I was familiar with. I later found out that the British introduced curry to Japan in the 19th century. It was more like a stew with curry powder in it! So I was too far off when I cooked my first curry.
Yesterday, we had roti prata and curry for breakfast. The curry was very spicy, and was a bit too much for some people first thing in the morning. But I like to have a “spice day” once in a while, and my first attempt at curry always comes to mind.
By Chayo, Homskil Editor 1, 31 January 2021