Curry is an English word most probably derived from the South Indian word Kaikaari. Kaikaari, or its shortened version Kaari, meant vegetables cooked with Kari leaes, spices and a dash of coconut. It may have become the symbolic British word for Indian dishes that could be eaten with rice.
Since the British occupation of India started in Bengal before Madras and some Bengali dishes are called "Torkari" or vegetables stews - the word curry may have been derived here. Another theory is the root word for curry is "Karai" or Kadhai" denoting the wok used in Indian kitchens.
In India curry now means gravy. In America many believe curry is an Indian spice. Curry powder is sold in many supermarkets. Many dishes in America call for curry powder, which is actually a blend of spices (mainly garam masala) that is mixed with coriander powder and turmeric. In India, Indians would be confused if you mentioned curry powder.
There is a plant, however, that has leaves that are called curry leaves or in Hindi meetha neem or Kadhi leaves. They look like miniature lemon leaves and grow wild in most forest regions of India and are used as a seasoning
Curry is now an international dish recognised the world over. It is a dish with gravy (or is a stew like dish) and had many spices and seasonings and is flavored with hot and sour tastes.
Curry may or may not be made with curry powder. Curry powder available in the supermarket is not a single spice but a blend of spice. Curries are made with many many Indian spice blends. Some curry powder ingredients are: black pepper, chile pepper, cloves, coriander, fenugreek, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, ginger tumeric and nutmeg. You can mix your own curry powder according to your tastes or buy it ready mixed in the spice aisle of your grocery store.
The classic Indian curry often combines the following spices, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cloves, ginger, red and black pepper as well as other spices. One popular variety of spice blend used in Indian curries is called "Garam Masala".
A ‘dry’ curry simply means that there is less liquid involved in the cooking process than you would normally associate with a curry.
Although Curry is not an Indian word - it has come to represent the varied dishes that are saucy, stew like or soupy. These dishes are cooked in steps with the following seasonings which are called masalas
1. A base of spices sautéed in ghee or oil
2. A secondary level of seasonings are added and include all or some of the following – a mixture of onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes - herbs and seasonings like mint leaves or fenugreek may also be added
3. A third level may include coconut milk, almonds, cashews or cream
4. All curries have a sour taste which may be achieves with lime juice, tamarind, mango powder, kokum or yogurt - a sweetener may also be added - traditionally Indians use jaggery or gur