Scientists have deciphered a 2,000-year-old curry recipe

Written by Katie Hunt

(CNN) – Traces of spices discovered on a grinding board and different stone instruments unearthed in Vietnam reveal that curry was eaten within the area at the very least 2,000 years in the past – and what was within the plate.

The sandstone slab, buried 2 meters (6.5 toes) under the floor, was excavated in 2018 on the Oc Eo archaeological advanced in southern Vietnam. The location was as soon as an offshore buying and selling submit for an historic kingdom in Southeast Asia referred to as Funan, based on a brand new examine of slab supplies.

“Getting ready curry includes not solely a wide range of spices, but additionally the usage of grinding instruments, appreciable time and human effort,” mentioned examine writer Dr Hsiao Chun Hong, a senior researcher within the Division of Archeology and Pure Historical past on the Australian Nationwide College in Canberra.

“Remarkably, even people residing outdoors India almost 2,000 years in the past expressed a powerful need to savor the flavors of curry, as evidenced by their diligent preparations,” Hung mentioned.

Hong and a crew of researchers analyzed the microscopic stays referred to as starch granules — tiny constructions discovered inside plant cells that may be preserved for lengthy durations — that they discovered on grinding and pounding instruments. Their evaluation revealed a number of culinary spices that originated in varied locations all over the world: turmeric, ginger, fingerling, sand ginger, galangal, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.

The findings present clues to how curries — and the individuals who made them — migrated to Southeast Asia.

Historic curry evaluation

The components the researchers recognized are just like these present in curries eaten in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia as we speak.

“These days, getting ready curry in Vietnam has change into a lot simpler for many households because of the huge availability of curry powder in supermarkets. Nonetheless, it’s attention-grabbing to notice that the curry recipe used as we speak has not deviated considerably from the traditional Oc Eo interval,” mentioned examine co-author Dr. Khanh Trung Kien Nguyen, archaeologist on the Middle for Archeology, Southern Institute of Social Sciences in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, Vietnam.

Nguyen added that the crew deliberate to recreate the two,000-year-old curry based mostly on components discovered on the website.

The examine indicated that folks have been doubtless having fun with curry in India round 4,000 years in the past, as evidenced by traces of turmeric, ginger, eggplant and mango discovered on cooking utensils and dental plaque, however this newest discovery reveals that curry manufacturing has a protracted and interesting historical past outdoors of India as nicely.

A few of the components recalled from Oc Eo, comparable to turmeric, are just like these present in Indian curries, whereas others are extra distinctive to Southeast Asia, together with coconut milk and galangal, a kind widespread in curry pastes in that area however not often utilized in Indian curries.

How Carrie connects cultures

It is not clear precisely who made the curry on the website, Hung mentioned, nevertheless it’s potential they have been immigrants from India or locals in Vietnam influenced by South Asian tradition. The massive grindstone – 76 cm (30 in) lengthy and 31 cm (12 in) huge – was discovered with the stays of homes that stood alongside or above the water.

Hung mentioned DNA from a cemetery in Cambodia linked to Oc Eo by an historic canal system had beforehand revealed the motion of populations from South Asia to Southeast Asia from the primary to 3rd centuries.

The brand new examine concludes that curry recipes arrived in Southeast Asia with South Asian merchants and immigrants with elevated contact between the areas in the course of the early centuries of the primary millennium A.D., and exhibits how the worldwide spice commerce linked cultures and financial methods.

What was most stunning, Hong mentioned, was that a number of the nutmeg seeds unearthed in the course of the excavation nonetheless gave off a singular aroma.

“Meals tradition is necessary in human historical past,” Hong added. “After we get pleasure from scrumptious meals, we regularly surprise how the flavors have been fashioned, the origins of the recipes, and when these cooking strategies have been first used.”

The analysis was revealed within the journal Science Advances on Friday.

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