Bowl of shrimp curry with bread
Thousands Of Years Ago, Curry Helped Link Ancient Cultures
Thanks to curry, scientists have recently confirmed physical proof of an ancient maritime trade route spanning from Egypt to China.
At Óc Eo, a major port city in southern Vietnam from two thousand years ago, archeologists have discovered large sandstone slabs similar to what is used to grind curry spices.
On the slabs, scientists found traces of various grains, coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, fingerroot, sand ginger, galangal, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
The galangal and the coconut milk are distinctly Southeast Asian variations on the 4,000-year-old Indian dish, but the curry recipe hasn't changed that much.
Although we may never know for certain, there's a good chance that the people who made the curry on the grinding slabs were Indian migrants living in the port city.
The discovery is the first physical proof that a global maritime trade route had to have existed throughout Asia in order to transport the grains and spices found on the slab.
Aside from the spices, some believe the slabs themselves are proof of cultural exchange, while others believe the tools could have evolved separately in Vietnam and India.
In no small way, curry helped bring these distant communities together, allowing for not just the free trade of goods but ideas and language too.