Madhur Jaffrey, the doyen of Indian cooking in America, pointed out in her book ‘An Invitation to Indian Cookery’ that “no Indian ever uses curry powder” as every dish would then taste the same.

This wasn’t the only myth surrounding ‘curry’. Even the origins of its name and the dish itself were shrouded in ambiguity for a long time.

While curry has evolved from being a single entity to having several variations — from dhansak and korma to rogan josh and vindaloo, few know the ingredients of the very first curry ever prepared!

It is said to be from 4,000 years ago during the time of the Harappan civilisation, and included traces of eggplants (brinjals), ginger, turmeric and salt.

This was discovered in 2010 by two archaeologists — Arunima Kashyap and Steve Webber of Washington State University — and they claimed this was the residue of the world’s “oldest” proto-curry.

Numerous historians have theorised the origins of the term ‘curry’.

While historian Alan Davidson credits the Tamil word ‘kari’, food historian Lizzie Collingham says it was the Goan ‘caril’ where it stemmed from.

Interestingly, prawn curry is still called ‘Caril de Camarao’ in some places in Goa.

When talking about the various additions of ingredients that have birthed so many types of curries, there are many stories.

It is said that Persian influence led to the addition of yoghurt in meat gravies while cream and pureed nuts were added in Lucknow to produce decadent kormas.

By the late 19th century, commercial curry powder was being widely sold in England, even though it had little resemblance to anything being used in India.

As Indian immigrants settled around the world in South Africa, Guyana, Maldives, Fiji, Japan, Trinidad, Mauritius, Suriname, etc, they would use local ingredients to create approximations of their beloved curries.

Ever since, these reclaimed and reinvented curries have continued to conquer all, wherever they have settled.

Take, for instance, South Africa’s Bunny Chow — a piping hot Indian-style curry housed inside a hollow loaf of bread — which, according to the Johannesburg Times is an “integral part of South Africa’s culinary heritage.”

The Nakamuraya Indo-Karii — an Indian-style chicken curry was introduced in Japan by freedom fighter Rash Behari Bose.

With over six billion helpings being served annually, it is still made according to Bose’s original recipe and supplied as packaged ready-to-eat meals to supermarkets across the country.

Like the Indian diaspora itself, they are true to their origins yet creative, full of surprising flavours and depths, and yes, infinitely adaptable!