Violets are Blue, Curries are Red

Somewhere around Ta Nung, December 29th 2010

Every Indonesian must know "curry". We usually use it for making chicken curry soup. The color is yellow. When I came to Japan, I learned about a common dish called "beef curry". The gravy was starchy. The one in Indonesia can be described as "gravy", but the one in Japan is more "saucy". Anyway, it was yellow. A smartass I was, I concluded that the beef curry in Japan must have originated from Indonesia during the three and a half year of occupation. However, later on I was told that it actually originated from India. Somewhere in TV I saw what Indian curry looked liked. It was yellow. Hence, all the whole my life, I had always thought that curry is yellow.

Our car stopped. "Come here, my friend," said Tin. "Let me show you something."

Curry tree in harvesting season. We were on the right place at the right time.
The tree looked brownish green because of the brown curry fruits hanging all over the tree. The brownish thing on bottom of this picture is not soil. It's a pile of curry peel.

There's a small opening on the curry fruit. So when you squeeze the curry fruit with your finger, it will crack open. Inside it you will find deep red seeds.

Here are the curry peels.

The curry seeds are grind with a piece of brick. Not until I wanted to upload this picture that I realized that they had something else grind together with the curry seeds. It seems so.
Next, the grind curry seeds are sieved with a bamboo siever.

Now, the red curry powder is to be dried under the sun.

So, I asked Tin, "In what way does the curry turn yellow?"

I couldn't really get what he was trying to explained. I only understood that it was because of the oil. Wiwik appeared to understand very well. She nodded several times. So I didn't press on further.

Back home, still curious, and even more curious, I searched the internet. How can something deep red turn into light yellow because of oil?

The images of curry trees I could get on Google weren't in any way similar to the curry tree I had seen. However, I learned that there are actually many types of curry. Meaning, many colors. It's commonly yellow, but it also can be red or green. Okay... but...

I could not find references on Vietnamese red curry. On the other hand, many references mentioned that red curry is famous in Thai cuisine. I kept on searching. Okay... I'm getting it now. To make curry paste, you don't merely use curry seeds. There's wide range of additive varieties. Having all blended together, color can change dramatically. Although called "red curry", it might be red because of chili rather than because of these red seeds. Maybe that was what Tin was trying to explain to me. Obviously I should stay in the kitchen longer.
However still, I'm curious about this particular tree. And the answer, for sure isn't in my kitchen.

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