chapter  7
13 Pages

“To Make a Curry the India Way”: Tracking the Meaning of Curry Across Eighteenth-Century Communities

WithStephanie R. Maroney

Alan Davidson in the Oxford Companion to Food tentatively confirms that curry comes from the south Indian Tamil word kari (a spiced sauce poured over rice), first used by the Portuguese, who introduced the chili plant to India in the sixteenth century; however, the English use of the word came to describe any spicy dish with a thick sauce or gravy that came from any part of India.1 Curry is a colonial foodstuff, whose history provides an interesting perspective on the complex colonial relations between Britain and India. It is difficult to classify a dish that is neither Indian nor British; the meaning of curry is many-its various definitions depend on time, place, history, and geography. Tracking the movement of curry by focusing on three communities of curry eaters shows that how, when, and by whom it was eaten changed its cultural meaning.