What's for dinner tonight? Cumin, coriander, cardamom, mustard, mango powder, ginger, asafetida, fenugreek and chilies. And then there's turmeric, tamarind, saffron, curry leaf, coconut milk and kewara water, almonds, cashews and pistachios - And those are just the seasonings!

 

Meanwhile, what is this stuff called "curry" we've been eating all these years? Not Indian, I'm afraid. Colonial rulers have never been known for their linguistic accuracy and no one knows for sure where the British got this one. "Kari" is a South Indian word for sauce and "tarkari" is a North Indian dish -- which may or may not be relevant.

Clearly the sahibs and memsahibs fell in love with the flavors of India. When they returned to the homeland, they had their cooks grind up a mix of spices to sprinkle on their staid British staples.

 

The world now knows this as "curry powder" and whatever is cooked with it is called "curry." As if the same stodgy old combination in dish after dish could begin to reflect the wonders of India!

 

The finest of India's cuisines is as rich and diverse as it's civilization. It is an art form that has been passed on through generations purely by word of mouth, from guru(teacher) to vidhyarthi (pupil) or from mother to daughter.

The range assumes astonishing proportions when one takes into account regional variations. Very often the taste, colour, texture and appearance of the same delicacy changes from state to state.