Phanaeng (also spelled phanang) is a type of red Thai curry that is thick, salty and sweet, with a nutty peanut flavor. The earliest known mention of phanaeng appears in Mom Somchin Rachanupraphan's book Tamra Kap Khao, published in 1890. (Photo by: David Henley/Pictures From History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
'Curry' Isn't Actually An Indian Word. Here's Where It
Comes From
By Elias Nash
There are various curry dishes from all across the globe, like Jamaican curry with goat meat, Indonesian beef rendang in coconut sauce, sweet caramel-colored Japanese curry, and the beloved staple of German street food, currywurst. Most of these recipes can trace their origins to the Indian sub-continent, but the word curry actually has multicultural roots.
The term curry does not appear in any of India's official languages, though it's widely believed to have evolved from the Tamil word ‘kari,’ which refers to a type of thin sauce served over rice. ‘Curry’ likely entered the English language via Portuguese explorers in the late 15th century, who transliterated the word ‘kari’ from the Tamil-speaking region of India into ‘caril’ or ‘caree.’
It's believed that the British first discovered the Portuguese version of the word in a 16th-century travelog, transliterating it once again to bring it even further from the initial Tamil spelling. By the 20th century, the English had expanded their use of ‘curry’ to refer to an entire style of cuisine, and as the British Crown expanded its influence across the globe, so did the word curry and its style of cuisine.