CURNUM, s. Tel. karanamu; a village accountant, a town-clerk. Acc. to Wilson from Skt. karana; (see CRANNY). [It corresponds to the Tam. kanakan (see CONICOPOLY).]

1827.—“Very little care has been taken to preserve the survey accounts. Those of several villages are not to be found. Of the remainder only a small share is in the Collector’s cutcherry, and the rest is in the hands of curnums, written on cadjans.”—Minute by Sir T. Munro, in Arbuthnot, i. 285.

CUROUNDA, s. H. karaunda. A small plum-like fruit, which makes good jelly and tarts, and which the natives pickle. It is borne by Carissa carandas, L., a shrub common in many parts of India (N.O. A pocynaceae). [1870.—Riddell gives a receipt for kurunder jelly, Ind. Dom. Econ. 338.]

[CURRIG JEMA, adj. A corr. of H. kharij jama, “separated or detached from the rental of the State, as lands exempt from rent, or of which the revenue has been assigned to individuals or institutions” (Wilson).

[1687.—“…that whenever they have a mind to build Factorys, satisfying for the land where it was Currig Jema, that is over measure, not entred in the King’s books, or paying the usuall and accustomed Rent, no Government should molest them.”—Yule, Hedges, Diary, Hak. Soc. ii. lxiii.]

CURRUMSHAW HILLS, n.p. This name appears in Rennell’s Bengal Atlas, applied to hills in the Gaya district. It is ingeniously supposed by F. Buchanan to have been a mistake of the geographer’s, in taking Karna-Chaupar (‘Karna’s place of meeting or teaching’), the name of an ancient ruin on the hills in question, for Karnachau Pahar (Pahar=Hill).—(Eastern India, i. 4).

CURRY, s. In the East the staple food consists of some cereal, either (as in N. India) in the form of flour baked into unleavened cakes, or boiled in the grain, as rice is. Such food having little taste, some small quantity of a much more savoury preparation is added as a relish, or ‘kitchen,’ to use the phrase of our forefathers. And this is in fact the proper office of curry in native diet. It consists of meat, fish, fruit, or vegetables, cooked with a quantity of bruised spices and turmeric [see MUSSALLA]; and a little of this gives a flavour to a large mess of rice. The word is Tam. kari, i.e. ‘sauce’; [kari, v. ‘to eat by biting’]. The Canarese form karil was that adopted by the Portuguese, and is still in use at Goa. It is remarkable in how many countries a similar dish is habitual; pilao [see PILLAU] is the analogous mess in Persia, and kuskussu in Algeria; in Egypt a dish well known as ruzz mufalfal [Lane, Mod. Egypt, ed. 1871, i. 185], or “peppered rice.” In England the proportions of rice and “kitchen” are usually reversed, so that the latter is made to constitute the bulk of the dish.

The oldest indication of the Indian cuisine in this kind, though not a very precise one, is cited by Athenaeus from Megasthenes: “Among the Indians, at a banquet, a table is set before each individual…and on the table is placed a golden dish on which they throw, first of all, boiled rice.…and then they add many sorts of meat dressed after the Indian fashion” (Athen., by Yonge, iv. 39). The earliest precise mention of curry is in the Mahavanso (c. A.D. 477), where it is said of Kassapo that “he partook of rice dressed in butter, with its full accompaniment of curries.” This is Turnour’s translation, the original Pali being supa.

It is possible, however, that the kind of curry used by Europeans and Mahommedans is not of purely Indian origin, but has come down from the spiced cookery of medieval Europe and Western Asia. The medieval spiced dishes in question were even coloured like curry. Turmeric, indeed, called by Garcia de Orta, Indian saffron, was yet unknown in Europe, but it was represented by saffron and sandalwood. A notable incident occurs in the old English poem of King Richard, wherein the Lion-heart feasts on the head of a Saracen—

“soden full hastily
With powder and with spysory,
And with saffron of good colour.”
Moreover, there is hardly room for doubt that capsicum or red pepper (see CHILLY) was introduced into India by the Portuguese (see Hanbury and Fluckiger, 407); and this spice constitutes the most important ingredient in modern curries. The Sanskrit books of cookery, which cannot be of any considerable antiquity, contain many recipes for curry without this ingredient. A recipe for curry (caril) is given, according to Bluteau, in the Portuguese Arte de Cozinha, p. 101. This must be of the 17th century.

It should be added that kari was, among the people of S. India, the name of only one form of ‘kitchen’ for rice, viz. of that in consistency

  By PanEris using Melati.

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