The television network CNN explores the worldwide appreciation of curry, noting that the flavorful combination of spices can be found in numerous countries from India to the Caribbean to Asia. Included in the survey of the Caribbean’s approach to curry is Jamaica’s curry goat.
CNN notes that curry is not a single spice and it is not related to the curry tree. Instead, curry refers to spiced meat, fish, or vegetables cooked in a stew. Curry is generally prepared as a mix of spices in powdered or paste form, and it can be obtained ready-made, according to Colleen Sen, author of the book “Curry: A Global History” on which the CNN feature relies. According to Sen, the word “curry” likely originates in a mishearing of the Indian word “kari,” which meant “a spiced dish of sautéed vegetables and meat.” The Portuguese, who colonized Goa in western India during the 17th century, used the word to demote a spiced stew served over rice. The word ultimately evolved to “curry” in English. Curry may date back to 2,500 BCE in what is now Pakistan, but it has become a truly global food because it was brought to other regions through colonization, immigration, indentured labor and slavery, and trade. Sen believes there is no place in the world that does not feature some type of curry.
In the Caribbean, curry is particularly popular in former British colonies like Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Curry’s appearance in the Caribbean has been traced to the mid-1800s after slavery was abolished, and over 800,000 African slaves traveled around the world. As the freed peoples no longer wanted to work on sugar plantations, the British began to use indentured servants from the subcontinent of India as their workforce.
According to author Sen, some 1.5 million people from India migrated to other parts of the British Empire between 1834 and 1917, which included 36,000 to Jamaica. These people brought new ways of cooking, new ingredients, and new dishes, of which curry is a prime example. In Jamaica, curry reflects a mix of British and Indian influences on cuisine, which became customized to local tastes and ingredients, in particular, curry goat. Curry goat is arguably one of the most popular dishes in Jamaica and is made for special occasions. The dish features goat meat that is tender and aromatic due to its mix of coconut milk, garlic, onion, allspice, thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, tomatoes, and turmeric, which gives it the characteristic yellow color.
Source: CNN Website