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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 12:54 GMT
Are you addicted to curry?
Curry is one of the UK's favourite dishes, especially after a pint or two of beer, but new research suggests that it may be addictive.
Scientists at Nottingham Trent University claim that just thinking about eating a curry can make people feel high and eating it arouses the senses and makes your heart beat faster. Traditional British food like good old fish and chips doesn't have the same effect.
Does eating a chicken tikka massalla get your pulse racing? Is there nothing finer than a lamb rogan josh? Or maybe it's a vindaloo that lights your fire? Are you a curry junkie?
This debate is now closed. Your comments:
Curry's great! It's varied, colourful,
easy to make and full of flavour.
Along with tea we have a lot to thank
India for - cheers!
Neville Harris, Jersey, Great Britain
Careful - with everyone here admitting they are addicted to curry, surely the Government will tax it at the next budget.
I am a student and I must say that every other meal I cook for myself is a curry. My cupboard in my hall kitchen consists of balti paste, korma paste, madras paste and kashmiri masala paste (very hot). In the fridge I have thai green curry paste along with creamed coconut and yoghurt for the korma. I have tins of ready made curry for when I'm feeling lazy as well as loads of frozen naan bread and samozas in the freezer. Yes I love curry, it's good for you. I once made a particularly hot curry which killed off my freshers flu! It certainly costs though, on the breath mints side of things........
Leah Muir, USA
I'm originally from Brum so curry is, as they say, in the blood. Contrary to popular belief, you can get great Indian food in the USA [yes, even Baltis] and IMHO they're far better tasting than those in the UK due to the superior quality of the ingredients. That said, whenever I visit Brum I head straight for my old stomping grounds and knock back a few Baltis - the food of the Gods.
Strangely enough, I suffer from a medical condition called GERD, or Gastro-Esophagal
Reflux Disorder, which causes constant upset stomach due to severe acid over production.
For this I take various pills and potions to alleviate continual
severe heartburn and IBS problems.
After one curry, I'm fine and dandy, problem free, for at least 2 days.
I would eat them every day, however
I'm sure that I would balloon to
20 stone in no time at all.
I limit to 1 per week. And what a treat it is.
I start my day with curry and end my day
Andy G.M. Wood, UK (London)
I love English food in general
but there's nothing like a good curry!
I went through a stage of having curries a
lot and I can understand that they may be
I am most certainly addicted to Indian curry. It is a totally different experience from any other type of curry. But it isn't just the taste of the food itself, it's the whole experience starting with the sweet smelling aroma when you first walk into a restaurant. Seconded by the excellent hospitality and service you are provided with. This is a much more enjoyable experience than most English restaurants I've been in, and I am British myself.
Chris Klein, UK
I am from South Carolina and a former fine dining chef. I adore curry whether it's Indian or Thai and I do agree it is a challenge to get right. I think the heat is the factor that appeals to southerners. Here we eat hot sauces (basic red chilis) at every meal. In fact I have "Texas Pete" on everything from popcorn to eggs.
Down at my local Pizzeria you can buy a lamb curry or chicken tikka pizza. Fantastic !!
Nothing like a good British curry,
Send more Patak out here.
It was about 3pm in the middle of winter, 1969. Walking with my wife near Piccadilly Circus, we experienced for the first time the scent of a good curry. We followed (like Pluto) until we found the little restaurant, empty at that hour, where we had a memorable Indian meal. We have been addicted ever since. The good news is that Indian restaurants and spice shops in Sydney are second to none.
l used to love curry but in recent years my taste for it has become less and less. l think it's all those heavy sauces. Spices l love, but give me a Mexican anyday!
Although I am not British, or Indian, I love curry. It keeps my spirits high, while living in Austria, a country of otherwise plain and boring Snitzels.
Will the government set up a Curry Tsar?
For many years people has been so disparaging about British food; and all the time we have been secretly enjoying a benefit of our cultural diversity - Indian food, the best in the world.
Maureen David, USA
I agree that curries can be addictive. Not in a harmful way, but in a pleasant and soothing way. The calming atmosphere of a good restaurant and the anticipation of the spices are the key to a great meal and make you simply want more.
Of course I love curry.
I am Indian. My family and I grew up on it.
If some day I would become curryless, I would surely die.
I can smell it being cooked in the kitchen right now and the juices from my salivary glands are flowing like a river.
Happy curry to everybody
As a Scot abroad you get off the plane and run for a curry! Regarding home-made curries: use fresh chillies instead of Sambal or preserved, olive or peanut oil instead of rubbish, and you'll have no stomach problems at all.
Just reading all these comments about curry makes me want one. Now. I love and crave curry. It seems only the Indians and Brits can fully appreciate it. It makes my mouth water just to think of it (I'm serious!). Give me a Chicken Madras over any other meal in the world.
Bill Capehart, US
Here in Thailand the standard dining table ornaments are not salt and pepper shakers, but three pots of potent chillies. Imagine noodle soup supplemented with a tablespoon of ground chillies - for breakfast ! ...Mmmmmm
I do enjoy curries, the hotter the better, but I also enjoy Nonya, Thai, Indonesian, French and Italian. Why obsess over one dish?
This forum certainly shows up the difference between US and British entrepreneurial skills. When Americans missed their hamburgers the world got McDonalds, when ex-pat Brits miss their curries they complain to Talking Point.
I've grown up on curry...but still prefer a good western meal...French or Italian a good English roast beef / venison or lamb. For me, Indian food is a once a week indulgence and yes...I find the London and New York Indian restaurants as amongst the best. Bon appetit!
Ellen, Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
After living in Arizona for 8 years, I still miss curries, so I guess it must be true that they are addictive.
Lets hope that curry isn't found to be addictive otherwise the government will either whack a huge tax on it or ban it completely!
Indian people are wonderful and their cuisine is divine.
You don't know what you've got until you cannot get it!!!
We moved to the USA 2 years ago and trust me being an avid Curry lover, I have had to resort to taking up cooking them myself. Thank goodness for the Internet! if you look hard enough you can find some good recipes. Over the last year we have been back to the UK three times and one of the most crucial elements to our visit is that we plan at least 2-3 trips to our local curry house. The only problem is when we get back my home made curries fail to compare.
Nothing like the curry ! And when I cook some good curry out here, these Russians just go nuts! Without curry, food seems very bland !!
The fist time that my husband (who is English) and I spoke on the phone he asked if I cared for curry. I had never had one, but was willing to try. I found out later that this was a very important question for him. Good thing I didn't answer in the negative! Since then I have become addicted to curry. We are lucky in that we live on the outskirts of a big city that has some decent curry houses. Of course, my husband can still cook up some wicked curries from his university days as well! Too bad that most Americans have never had a curry. They don't know what they are missing.
One day someone will make a fortune selling take away curries to the Americans. (It might even be me...)
You can eat almost anything here. Except a hot a tasty take-away curry. I've had to eat Mexican food to satisfy my need for spice, and that doesn't come anywhere near a good madras for depth of flavour and tastiness. And when it comes to heat, even the hottest Mexican dish just doesn't compare...
Addicted... you bet!. I have eaten a curry every Friday night in the last two and a half years. Come Thursday and I am salivating like a rabid dog. Roll on Friday and a Chicken Tikka Chilli Massala.
I am a Brit, currently working in Chihuahua, Mexico. I am assigned here for 8 weeks at a time, with 2 weeks back in the UK. One of the things I miss the most is a nice Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi Balti, with Pilau rice and a keema-naan bread. Unfortunately the Mexicans haven't even heard of Indian food, although some of there chillies measure up nicely. When I arrive at home, the first meal to be had is always an Indian, down at my local cuisine, followed the next day by a good old English breakfast.
Lindsey Carr, Derby, England
"Curry" is a catch all phrase that means so many things, so many different spice combinations in Indian cooking. So I don't know what you mean when you simply say "curry". However, your comment about possible addictive properties, getting the pulse racing etc., may be true. An interesting side note - traditional Indian yogic cuisine classifies spicy, hot foods (i.e. "curries") as "Rajas-ic" or sensuous / pleasure-giving. It is not recommended if one wants to pursue a life of quiet contemplation and meditation, because the physiological changes induced by these foods interfere with attempts to calm the mind!
Without doubt a seriously hot curry can induce a mild euphoria which, as others have suggested, may be due to endorphin release, excessive sweating, or part of the brain 'shutting down' to reduce the pain. I always assumed, however, that it was simply due to the hyperventilation that always seems to happen in a futile attempt to cool the mouth down!
I being an Indian and British have the hunger for a good piece of tikka more than most. I used to be able to eat the stuff at home and outside, but Americans don't seem to be able to savour a good curry!!
A meal without a touch of curry in it, is like life without oxygen.
In my opinion curry is better than salt and other chemical additive we have in can and preserved food.
Yes, I am definitely addicted to curry - and being a vegetarian, it also becomes a necessity, although I would not prefer it everyday. It is also good for the metabolism.
Curry is an awesome food. It ranges from mild and tasty to hot and tasty. Its important to appreciate that just like any food, there are good and bad curries, I have had some terrible ones but have also had some wonderful curries, just like our own English top chefs there are some wonderful Indian chefs who elevate cooking to a meeting with the gods!
Let us say that the Brits conquered us Indians. So now we've got our own back in our own peculiar way.
Life without curry would be unthinkable. I adore it in any shape or form. I have even had cold curry for breakfast !
As an ex-pat Brit living in Georgia, I've searched high and low to find somewhere to satisfy my spice fix, but have sadly failed. Any budding entrepreneur wishing to make his or her fortune should come to the USA and open a chain of 'English - style' Indian restaurants.
I love my curry, when my mum comes from Sri Lanka she brings me home made curry powder, some of my Canadian friends love my mild curries. I must say it's addictive sometimes I feel this great urge to make very very hot curry and really enjoy it.
Peter Watt, Scotland
It is not impossible to get good curry stateside, contrary to popular belief. Most major cities have some excellent curry, especially New York City. The only problem I have is that they don't usually make it hot enough. I suppose they are only catering to American tastes which are for the most part pretty bland. To remedy this, you have to make sure you are pretty specific when ordering. I often find myself saying "make sure I am sweating and that it hurts me". They usually get the picture.
This is journalistic tripe. No offence but as a person of Anglo Saxon heritage I believe the old roast and 3 veg is boring. Is it any wonder that these types of food are so popular. There is no addiction it is merely the pleasure of high flavour foods.
Yes, Indian food is the best!
Andy in Phoenix: remember it's only a two-hour flight to San Francisco and some of the best Indian food in the world.
Unfortunately, so far, Boston doesn't seem to have the same level. I don't agree that Indian food in the US is "dismal" but
it may not be as easy to find the good stuff.
I thank my good fortune every week, that Calgary has a good Indian restaurant. I grew up eating curries and other hot foods and would starve without spices to liven up my food a bit. When I have to go to the US for business, I always try to find an good Indian restaurant, sadly without much success. If only every city had an equivalent to London's Brick Lane.... I feel hungry already.
A friend asked me when I returned from a
recent trip back to London if I had tried
absinthe. I replied that the nearest I'd
come was overdosing on Indian ... perhaps
that's closer to the truth than I realised.
Oh yes - like all ex-pats I do miss a good
Mark Richardson, England
Dangerous stuff, curry. You start out experimenting with Korma, after a while this doesn't satisfy you so you move onto something a bit hotter, say dansak. This process repeats itself several times and you wind up eating Bangalore Phal. It's a slippery slope.
On a slightly more serious note, I heard several years ago that spicy food causes the body to produce a drug, akin to morphine, to counteract the spiciness and reduce the pain. Are we not becoming hooked to the drug?
I have many Asian friends and a Chinese wife and so I do eat an 'occasional' curry! However, here in Germany they are very difficult things to find! In the local snack-bars, 'curried sausage' and fries (NOT real chips!) are served. The curry sauce comes from the bottle and then they sprinkle curry powder on top! Now, about being addicted, I don't know! I think I'll have to cook a few curries to find out!
I have heard it suggested that very hot curries produce an endorphin rush: a flow of the brain's own pain killing chemicals, with a natural effect some chose synthetically to recreate with heroin and morphine. I suppose that one might become addicted in some ways to one's own body chemicals - so in that sense perhaps you can get addicted to the physiological effects of curry . . .
Oh, no! Does this mean we have the prospect of Ann Widdecombe [shadow home secretary] threatening us with on-the-spot fines for being in possession of garam masala, or having breath that smells of tarka dal?
Perhaps we can look forward to members of the Shadow Cabinet admitting to having eaten the odd curry, too. With 14 pints of lager, naturally.
Shane Porter, England
My love for curry has inspired this short poem:
My local curry house is exactly 148.7 km from my home. It takes 1 hr 30 minutes to reach in an emergency. If the Germans decide to take Pataks off the shelves, I will seriously have to consider doing a post graduate degree course in tree surgery at the University of Rangoon.
Addicted, not me!
I was once told the spices release natural opiates in the brain, which explains the happy feeling after eating curry. I am natural born English with white skin but I could eat curry till my skin turns brown and I start speaking with a funny accent. The Indians are most definitely the best cooks in the galaxy.
Reading between the lines, these 'scientists' have managed to get funding allowing them to go out and eat lots of curries (and Fish 'n' Chips as a control..).
I look forward to their next report on whether lots of beer makes you fall down or not!!
Andy, Brit living in USA
I like curry but never eat the stuff that comes from "Indian" takeaways. This is just fatty junk with little flavour, the lowest quality meat and about 3 times the calories a healthy meal should have.
The idea that lots of beer should be followed by generous helpings of this rubbish explains why so many British males are a rather peculiar shape.
Cook your own curry. It's easy, tastes much better, and you'll live longer.
East Indian food is so rich in spices that having it just once makes you long for it more! Curry houses in the UK are more prevalent than they are in Canada. I don't know if curry is addictive but I do know that it does make your sense of taste become more discriminate to bland foods. I always find myself adding spices to anything bland, you know the feeling you get when you think the dish is "missing" that something - maybe the spices!
Thank goodness for curry,
My husband and I moved to the USA from England 21/2 years ago and we really miss the curries. When he goes back on business or we go back as a family the first meal we have is a curry at the Indian restaurant where we used to live. Even our children of 9 and 6 both enjoy a korma. I have said many times how I could eat curry every night. We have found a very nice restaurant here in Tampa, but it still doesn't compare to the curries we eat in England. We have brought back from England, different Pataks curry pastes and mixes for Bombay Potatoes and onion bahjis, which suffice from time to time.
I like curry so much that I learned to cook it, and now I have enough (frozen) on hand to keep me going between trips to the curry houses. I'm lucky that the part of the USA I moved to has a few good Indian restaurants. I'm somewhere between a Dansak and a Vindaloo on the hot scale.
Indian Curry is one of the wonders of the world.
I just cannot seem to get enough of it ever.
I love curry and the smell alone is enough to get the old taste buds going. Am I addicted? No idea - but who cares anyway?
Living in the Big Apple has lot to do with my love of curry and good Indian food. My sympathy goes out to those who get hooked by curry but live in the other regions of the US (except Boston, maybe). If you love it so much, maybe you should all thinking of moving to New York, London, or India for the best!
After spending four years in Bradford and buying curries for the ridiculously cheap (by English standards) price of £2.50, I'd say that after several pints of beer nothing else would satisfy the food craving as well as a good chicken masala.
I don't think addiction has anything to do with it.
You get used to a certain kind of heat, if you eat it enough it becomes mild.
I've noticed in my life that I have gradually moved up in stages of hotness.
First a good curry would do, then I was wolfing down schezuan peppers. Now
nothing but a habanero will do.
Ever since a friend turned me on to Indian food, I've been hooked! My problem is I cannot return to bland American food after this! Living in Memphis, Tennessee it is a problem because BBQ just doesn't cut it anymore.
I must say I don't really like curry at all, I'm much more of a fish and chips man myself. Spicy food just doesn't agree with my stomach.
Fiona Young, UK/USA
My husband and I are two Brits living in the USA and do miss our "English" curries - you just can't find an equivalent in the USA, so I resort to making my own as we really do miss them!
I once spent an entire evening eating a curry in a Los Angelan restaurant with no other customers. The waiter tried to serve me Californian style with chip shaped naan bread and serving each dish separately with wine!! That was until I discovered he came from Leicester and then he relaxed and served all the dishes together broke out the Kingfishers and the chef joined us for a drink.
The night civilisation came to LA.
I'm with Jim on this one - can't get enough. But he's right to warn not to smoke it. A mate of mine did one time, and ended up lapsing into a korma.
BW Wakefield, USA
Being married to an Indian, Curry is my meat and two veg ... and still I love it. However, I will comment that the curry served up in the vast majority of restaurants is not Indian at all ... but a much blander mix of colouring, rice and chunks of meat. Try Rajma!! Or a real Indian Fish curry!! You'll never go near any Korma again. PS¿ There is not such thing as an Indian Beef curry!! Hindu's don't eat Beef.
I adore the stuff and would eat it every day quite happily. The anticipation builds all day long until I can get my "fix" in the evening. Beer is a good accompaniment but very cold dry white wine the best in my opinion. Addicted? Hopelessly!!
Sadly, Indian food over here in the USA is dismal in comparison to the wonderful curries served up in the UK. On a visit home recently I walked past a curry house and, for the first time in six months, my nasal passages were caressed by the most gorgeous smell of spices - it was all I could do to stop salivating down my shirt!
I will swear that that whiff of curry gave me more pangs of homesickness than anything in the two years I've lived away from England...
Ed Bayley, USA (English)
Whenever I have a curry, I usually find myself afterwards waking from an intense slumber on a Police cell floor, usually with a few cuts and bruises thrown in for good measure.
Do you think that this is a side effect of its exotic spicy properties?
Dean from UK is right - the medical fact is that curry is addictive in exactly the same way as sport. The body produces endorphins to cope with the pain of the heat, and this is what you get addicted to. Roll on the next Vindaloo!!!
Bruce Walton, England
Absolutely! Here in the Netherlands good curry houses are far and few between, and the local take-away curry house is definitely something I miss! I think the survey is definitely correct - when you've had one one night the craving the next night can be overwhelming!
Mine's a Rogon Josh (extra 4 beats a minute?)
Bhavesh Shah, Switzerland
I can confirm the findings. I have spent many a happy hour tracking down Indian restaurants in France and Belgium and Germany or Patak's products. I've never however thought of it as an addiction but rather a facet of being English!
Robin Davies, England
Whenever I have a curry, it always leaves me feeling dizzy for a short while afterwards. I always thought that it was due to the excessive sweating that a good 'Lamb Madras' induces - but now I know that its just my body releasing endorphins from satisfying the addiction!
I'm very definitely a curry junkie. I actually prefer curry to other foods and I find many English dishes mundane. I generally eat one take away a week, and cook my own as well. I usually eat out at an Indian restaurant once a month. For me, you can't beat a curry after a few beers or indeed at any other time. Keep those taste buds going!!
Richard Wolff, England
I don't know about anyone else but I can't get enough of the stuff. I'd eat it three times a day if I could afford it. No good if you smoke it though!
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