A Short History of Curry Powder

18 May 2016

Curry powder is a staple ingredient for most traditional sishebo recipes in South Africa, adding plenty of mouth-watering flavour, along with a delicious, satisfying kick. Thanks to its trademark spicy taste, many of us have often wondered how it came to be such an important ingredient in our local kitchens. Where did it originate? And why is it so beloved in our country? We take a look at a short history of curry powder below.

Where Did Curry Powder Come from?

Most people immediately assume that curry powder originated in India – that is, after all, the home of the curry dish itself. However, there is no way of proving this to be true. While we know that the concept of the powder almost certainly originated in the East (eventually finding its way to Western civilisations sometime during the 1700s)1, the exact country of origin has yet to be determined. Many food experts surmise that while curry powder seeks to emulate ‘the taste of India’, it is likely to be a western invention based on a similar mix of spices, known as garam masala, which is used widely in the eastern portion of the globe. This theory came to life due to the fact that while curry powder is known for its Indian-esque flavour, it does not actually reflect any specific food or cuisine from Asia.

What is Curry Powder Made of?

As already mentioned, curry powder is a mix of ground spices; and its composition varies from brand to brand. Generally speaking, however, the most common spices used to make the powder include cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli and fenugreek, often with a few extra additions in the form garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg etc.

What Were the Original Uses of Curry Powder?

Unsurprisingly, curry powder has always been used in order to create taste-bud tingling meals of Eastern origin. However, back in the day, it was hailed for a whole lot more than its flavour! According to early data, many people believed it to aid in digestion, promote better circulation and enhance concentration. Most controversial of all, it was also said to be a powerful aphrodisiac, thus making it a sought after commodity by those who knew of its value.

Now that you know a thing or two about the history of curry powder and how it came to spread to kitchens all around the globe, it is time to put the tasty creation to good use! Be sure to browse the Your Perfect Sishebo website for interesting sishebo recipes that call for curry powder as a prime ingredient.


1 http://www.silkroadgourmet.com/curry-powder/

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry_powder

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