Curry is a staple in South Asian cuisine but has found its place as a dish that is beloved by many across the globe.
Known for its complex flavor profile and mouth-tingling spices, curry uses a blend of different herbs and spices to achieve a unique taste unlike anything else in the world.
The popularity of curry has even prompted prestigious award-giving bodies, like the Asian Curry Awards, where restaurants around the UK are recognized for their innovative fusions on the classic dish.
Since curry is enjoyed by many cultures and cuisines, there are discussions on how it can affect health. This is because some of the spices used in the dish are known to have benefits for the body, such as in relation to weight management. As such, it is important to know more about the components of curry to understand the potential weight loss properties of the dish.
History of curry
Curry is thought to have originated as early as 2500 BCE in what is modern-day Pakistan. Nowadays, the Western perception of curry thinks of it as a dish, but the word itself has been misunderstood. The word curry comes from the Tamil word “kari,” which refers to sauce and does not automatically connote a complete dish. Additionally, renowned writer and Indian food specialist Colleen Sen notes that curry is not a single spice, nor is it related to the tree of the same name. The word “curry” is a catch-all phrase for a blend of spices used to season meat, fish, or vegetable stew, which can be prepared as a powder or made into a thick paste to put into a dish.
While it has South Asian origins, curry spread globally thanks to international trade routes and colonization.
Countries like Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Caribbean islands, and even the UK have their own localized version of curry, which is seen as an integral part of their cuisine.
For example, Japanese curry is known for leaning into sweeter flavors since some varieties add honey and grated apples into the sauce.
Alternatively, the Southeast Asian variants of curry are more umami since they use ingredients like shrimp paste to add to the complex mix of flavors already present.
Despite the different variations in making curry, the base is often flavored with the same spices, such as cardamom, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili peppers.
Some other ingredients like onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seed, nutmeg, star anise, and bay leaves are also included to add fragrance and further enhance flavor.
These ingredients not only create a mouthwatering dish, but some also have health benefits that enhance the nutritious elements found in curry. As mentioned earlier, one of these benefits is believed to be in relation to weight.
Can curry aid in weight loss?
Those striving to lose weight are often under the impression that they need to follow a restrictive regimen to see results. However, this can negatively affect your metabolism and lead to nutrient deficiencies. That’s why a truly healthy weight loss program encourages you to enjoy your favorite foods while still helping you stay on track to reach your goals. Instead of restricting you, it helps you shift from thinking of food as either “good” or “bad” to “nutritious” and “less nutritious.” That way, you’re motivated to instead focus on the nutritional value of what you eat and view eating as a way to fuel your body and satiate hunger instead of counting calories. Curry best exemplifies this more productive attitude, as the ingredients present in the dish help promote weight loss without skimping out on flavor or nutrients.
For example, base spices such as cumin, ginger, and garlic are great for aiding weight loss, as they are known to boost the metabolism. Furthermore, curries that use poultry, lean meat, mushrooms, and fish are packed with protein and are great for natural weight loss.
Eating protein not only helps maintain muscle mass to boost your metabolism, but it can make you feel full for longer and keep your stomach satisfied.
This is important when going through the weight loss process since gaining control over your eating habits is an effective way to shed off the extra pounds sustainably.
In addition to protein, the use of turmeric in some curries can also help induce weight loss. Turmeric is a powerful spice and has been historically used as herbal medicine in some cultures, as it has anti-inflammatory properties and is an effective antioxidant. On top of this, some studies showed that the benefits of turmeric may also include weight loss. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is responsible for the spice’s anti-inflammation effects, which can suppress the inflammatory markers that contribute to obesity.
Other variants of curry also have other ingredients that can further promote weight loss. For example, the curries found in Southeast Asia usually use a heavy amount of coconut milk to create a creamy and rich texture for the dish. One of the health properties of coconut milk is its ability to encourage weight loss, as it contains a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Some evidence has found that MCTs can reduce the buildup of fat and help suppress appetite to aid in the weight loss process. Coconut milk also boosts heart health and has antioxidants that can protect from disease, making it a nutritious addition to curry.
When eating curry for weight loss, though, it is important to remember that it should still be eaten in moderation. Curry is often paired with carb-heavy foods like rice and flatbread (naan or roti), which can induce weight gain when eaten in excess.
In order to take advantage of curry’s weight loss benefits, it’s important to practice portion control, which is another way to lose weight naturally, as this prevents overeating.
Curry recipes to try
Seeing how there is a wide variety of curries available in the world, it can be daunting trying to choose one to remake and incorporate into your diet. Mostly, though, you want to look for curry recipes that are high in protein or vegetable-based to incorporate fiber that can help with weight loss. For something quick and easy to make for dinner, you can try making vegetarian rainbow curry that uses carrots, potatoes, green peas, bell peppers, green beans, and corn to have a filling and nutritious meal.
Alternatively, if you want something with more protein, creamy mushroom matar curry is hearty, rich in flavor, and has enough kick to make for a more interesting meal. If you’re looking for other regional versions of curry, you can also try Thai fish curry, Japanese tonkatsu curry, Caribbean curry crab, and Indonesian chicken curry, as their preparation is rather straightforward. Some variants of curry can be challenging to cook, especially since it incorporates a lot of spices and may turn out saltier than intended. But our important cooking tip is to add in a raw potato to soak up the salty flavors and revive the original taste for a successful meal. With this in mind, you can enjoy your curry and reap the health benefits it has.