The strange thing is that we all think this, while there are actually thousands of different curries, which do not have to look alike at all. The thick ones where you can put your spoon in, but there are also plenty of thin and dry ones. They are often made with coconut milk, but that is not necessary. They can be spicy or mild, more acidic or sweeter, and sometimes red wine, vanilla, mustard, butter or cinnamon are added. Usually, curry is eaten with rice, but it is also often eaten with roti.
Traditionally, curry is a combination of spices, the most important of which are turmeric, cumin, coriander and ginger. These spices, however, are mixed with fresh or dried chilli peppers.
So if you like curry, there is a lot to try wherever you are. You can find curries in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, China, in the Philippines and Japan, in Thailand, Nepal, in Jamaica, the Maldives and the Bahamas, but also in South Africa and England.
It is difficult to say which curry is most popular in Thailand, but our guess is green curry (khaeng kiauw wan), which is also the spiciest. The green naturally comes from the green chillies, but the curry paste should also contain lime leaves, lemon grass, fresh coriander and basil. Also in Thailand, curries are sometimes wet (so almost soup), but often dry as well.
Another popular curry in Thailand is the panang curry; a layered but spicy curry that contains almost no other liquid than coconut cream. Or: massaman curry, a mild curry with chicken, potato and peanuts, which came to Thailand from ancient Persia, via India and Malaysia. Just as mild is the yellow curry (khaeng kari), which is also made with coconut cream, and most resembles the curries from India. Because that is where it originally came from. Curries had been made and eaten there for about four thousand years before the British brought it to Europe from their colony in the 17th century.
It is remarkable that nobody in India called this dish curry (and nowadays only when they talk to foreigners in English). That is because of the British. They picked up the word 'kari', meaning sauce or soup, from the Tamil language and started calling the refined mix of spices curry (in India, such a combination of spices is more commonly called masala).
In cookery books from hundreds of years ago, one finds references to 'kari podi', kari powder, which was brought from India to Europe mainly by the British. As far as we know, it is only in a recipe by Hannah Glasse in 1748 that curry appears for the first time. That the dish was not found in cookery books earlier is not surprising, as recipes were not written down in India; they were passed on orally from generation to generation and from cook to cook.
The fact that the curry appeared in a cookbook so long ago does not mean that everywhere in Europe it was on the table immediately. It took time. In 1810, the first Indian restaurant in Europe was probably opened in London. Here, of course, curry was made, and so London and the rest of Europe got to know the Indian speciality, bite by bite, step by step. In England, curry became so popular that it is said that there are now more curry restaurants in London than in Mumbai.