Why english name "curry" is used for all those different dishes?

by Mios   Last Updated November 19, 2018 12:17 PM

More like meta-cooking question, but I believe it fits here better than on travel stack.

Why is English so poor at differentiating all those different things hidden under one common name: curry?

Is there a historical reason for that - similar (for the sailors in XVI century) food from different exotic countries? Or do they have similar basis, like set of spices, flavors?


There are at least few different dishes (or even dish families) from different countries that western people call curry, even if they are not similar:

  1. India curry, which is I think the general name for multiple versions of thick sauces with meets, including butter chicken, masala chicken, etc.
  2. Thai curries based on more watered-down sauces with notable taste from coconut milk. There are at least 3 of them (red, yellow, green), and in Thai language they are called ngang which is also the general term for soup (I can be wrong on this one).
  3. Japanese curry
  4. Filipino curry
  5. The spice called curry - you can buy in stores in Europe this spice called curry (in packs like black pepper, cumin, oregano, etc.) which is essentially mix of simple spices.
  6. There are probably more things, that are translated as curry in English.

So, how to differentiate it all? Do all of those have something in common? Or is it just lingual lack of proper wording.

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