In a viral Instagram post, Indian-American blogger Chaheti Bansal called on people to “cancel the word ‘curry'”, deemed a universal term for Indian dishes in the West.
In a recipe video for Rajasthani dish ‘Gatte ki sabji’, Bansal said that the term “curry” has been misused by “white people” to name any dish made in India.
Stating that one can “still unlearn”, she said, “There’s a saying that the food in India changes every 100km and yet we’re still using this umbrella term popularised by white people who couldn’t be bothered to learn the actual names of our dishes”.
In an interview with NBC News, Bansal was quoted as saying that while she did not want the word to be cancelled entirely, there needed to be an end to its use by “people who don’t know what it means”.
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Speaking on the issue with indianexpress.com, renowned chef Manjit Gill, president, Indian Federation of Culinary Association, said, “In the 14th century, a book was written titled The Forme of Cury, in which, the meaning of the word was ‘art of cooking’. My hypothesis is that in their imperial journey, the British did not experience any food which is so evolved in technique and skills and its diversity till they reached India.”
No Indian dish traditionally has the word “curry”, added the chef. “In Bengali, for instance, we call it ‘jhol’. Likewise, we have ‘korma’, ‘kalia’ or ‘salan’ (a Sanskrit word). There are dishes which fall into these categories but the word ‘curry’ does not really justify any food that comes from India or Asia. Our dishes are diverse, they have their own character defined by the manner of cooking. In India. too, we tend to use this word very loosely, which should be avoided,” he said.
Agreed Chef Jagadish Purushotama, executive culinary chef, APCA (Academy of Pastry and Culinary Arts). He said that while using the term “curry” for all Indian dishes is “not racist”, it has more to do with “a lack of information about the variety of Indian cuisine”. He added, “Curries are very common in the coast and now it has become a standard phrase.”
Talking about the prevalence of the word “curry”, chef Niklesh Sharma, founder, ACPA, further added, “When it comes to the word ‘curry’ it is usually used to describe a dish with a liquid base and our Indian cuisine is overflowing with such delicacies, though the term is used globally and describes a variety of dishes from the Asian sub-continent”.
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