It’s nice when American food holidays pay homage to international cuisine. After celebrating tempura earlier in the week, today is National Curried Chicken Day! When many people hear the word “curry” they think spicy. And there are plenty of curry recipes that, like Dirty Harry, pack heat. But curry powder is a fairly tame blend of spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper. It’s got a warm, distinct scent and taste, and is what we used to make our curried chicken recipe today.
But today isn’t “curry” chicken day, it’s “curried” chicken day, and there is a difference. Curried chicken refers to the art of preparation – when you curry a chicken, you’re adding a mixture that includes curry to the chicken. Chicken curry, on the other hand, is made with a curry flavored sauce and typically cooked into a stew. Clear as mud, no?
Curried chicken is very popular in Southeast Asia, and most commonly associated with India. The word curry came from kari, an Indian/Sri Lankan term for meat and vegetables cooked with spices. Archaeologists have found mortars and pestles dating back to 2600 BC; these were used to ground spices such as mustard, fennel, cumin, and tamarind pods for flavoring meat. Members of the East India Trading Company (those guys again!) brought curry powder to Britain in the 17th century, where it was used to spice up leftovers. It proved a great way to liven up day-old bubbles and squeak! Curry has become such a staple in British cuisine that it’s a popular potato chip flavor and pizza topping. The 2013 Mini Cooper automobile features the Union Jack logo, dual racing stripes, and a curry-flavored steering wheel.
Today is a busy day for us. We’ve got an NFL playoff game to watch (go, Broncos!) and a birthday dinner for my dad this evening. Our best option for a curried chicken dish was lunch; I found a recipe for a curried chicken salad lettuce wrap featuring diced chicken, apples, red onion, garlic, mayo, sour cream, and curry powder. It was surprisingly delicious…so much so that we’re declaring this recipe a keeper! Tara isn’t even a fan of chicken salad in general, but loved this one. I think personally it’s been my favorite food challenge so far, and I love that we are expanding our food horizons with recipes we’d probably never even think of trying otherwise!