2000 Year Old Curry Recipe: Spices on a grinding slab and stone tools from Vietnam show that people ate curry over 2,000 years ago. This food find at the Oc Eo archaeological site in southern Vietnam, which was once a trading hub, showed interesting things about the culture of ancient Southeast Asia.
This old curry recipe shows how the trade of spices around the world has brought tastes and cultures together.
In 2018, archaeologists in Oc Eo found a sandstone slab that was 2 meters deep. This grinding stone showed how the Funan people cooked in the past. Dr. Hsiao-chun Hung’s team at Australian National University found tiny bits of starch on the tools.
The analysis found a variety of spices, including turmeric, ginger, fingerroot, sand ginger, galangal, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
This surprising find shows that non-Indians wanted curry almost 2,000 years ago. The study’s co-author, Dr. Khanh Trung Kien Nguyen, said that the ancient Oc Eo curry recipe is like Vietnamese curries. Since curry powder is easy to find, modern Vietnamese families have made the process easier, but they have kept the heart of this ancient food tradition.
Curry came from India 4,000 years ago, but this new find shows that it has a long and interesting history outside of India as well. Curry uses ingredients from India and Southeast Asia, like turmeric and coconut milk. Curry brought people and tastes together. South Asians or locals who wanted to mix cooking styles might have used the site’s large grinding stone.
In the first few hundred years of the new millennium, there was more trade between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Curry recipes travelled with spice traders.
The spice trade used to bring people and economies together. Even more interesting, nutmeg seeds still smelled the same after thousands of years. This shows that spices have always been popular.
Learning about the history of food helps us understand the history of people. This curry recipe from 2000 years ago shows how different cultures and spices have changed the way people cook.