Chaheti Bansal, with over 200,000 followers on Instagram, sparked a debate over the word curry as a descriptor of dishes from regions of South Asia and beyond.
“I’m not even gonna bother with the recipe cause I have more important things to discuss like canceling the word ‘curry,’ ” she says. “We’re still using this umbrella term popularized by white people who couldn’t be bothered to learn the actual names of our specific dishes... Curry shouldn’t be all that you think about when you think about South Asian food”.
The word “curry” likely originated from British colonists mispronouncing something else, although it’s not clear what exactly they were mispronouncing. “The word curry does not exist in any South Asian language to my knowledge,” University of Vermont Professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst says.
But some people push back on the movement. “I lost the will to live as soon as we started talking about it,” British TV host and news anchor Simon McCoy said when covering the controversy.
There are many dishes called "curries", but the precise selection of spices for each dish is a matter of national or regional cultural tradition, religious practice, and preference, being called by their specific names instead of the general term of curry. Outside of the Indian subcontinent, "curry" expanded and describes various dishes of Island Southeast Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia, east Asia, United Kingdom and Oceania.