Just what is curry?

Growing up in southwest Virginia, foods were traditionally Appalachian foods. My  mother is an excellent cook (in fact, I lost about 15 lbs when I went away to college!). There was lots of delicious potatoes, gravies, cornbread, stews, and desserts. mmmm…desserts!

Over the years I’m slowly trying new foods. Most of the foods I grew up with did not have a lot of spices in them. So as an adult, I’m exploring different spices on my own. I’ve found many that I like and of course, lots that I don’t.

Today’s learning topic is curry. I’ve decided to try a curry dish in my crockpot (see below) tomorrow and so today I wanted to learn a little bit about curry.

This recipe is from the book “The Busy Mom’s Slow Cooker Cookbook”. I highly recommend this book for healthy slow cooker meals!

Here’s the ingredient list and recipe:


Just what is curry?

(By the way, I got this curry powder in the Indian food section at Meijer…it was much cheaper packaged this way than it was over in the spice section in the

little bottle. This whole bag was about $2.50 versus a small jar for $3!)

Curry is the English-ized word for the Tamil word kari. (Tamil is a dialect spoken in India). Curry is a blend of spices commonly used in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand. Several spices may be in curry powder. The most common spices in curry powder are tumeric, coriander (also known as cilantro), and cumin. This blend of spices was developed by the British to mimic the tastes of India.

Curry powder became popular in the 19th and 20th centuries as it was exported throughout Europe and into North and South America. At this time, there was no specific blend of spices in curry. But in the 1960s and 1970s Indian-based food consumption increased  internationally and Indian restaurants began to open throughout the world.  It was at this time that the spices in curry powder became standardized outside India.

The spices in curry powder have been shown to have several health benefits including prevention of certain cancers and prevention of  Alzheimer’s disease. [1, 2]  Tumeric has been shown to reduce inflammation. [3]


1. Ravindran et al. Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively? AAPS J. 2009 Sep;11(3):495-510. Epub 2009 Jul 10.

2. Lim et al. The curry spice curcumin reduces oxidative damage and amyloid pathology in an Alzheimer transgenic mouse. J Neurosci. 2001 Nov 1;21(21):8370-7.

3. Jacob et al. Mechanism of the Anti-inflammatory Effect of Curcumin: PPAR-equation M1Activation. PPAR Res. 2007; 2007: 89369.

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