Curry: the part it plays in uni life

Curry at university

By Nicole Correia,

As far as university societies go, there is something for everyone: ‘Stich and Bitch’ for those knitting-gossips, hummus societies for those hard core chick-peas, agriculture societies for all the young-budding shepherds and the Pirate Society for all the pirates out there. But who would not join a Curry Appreciation society. Curry has touched the lips and lives of so many of us here in Britain. It is most certainly one of my favourite types of food, and as a society it works as a great way to enjoy food, socialise and make friends.

I spoke with Mehernosh Mody, Executive Chef at one of London’s most renowned curry restaurants, La Porte des Indes, about the joys of curry and why he thinks curry has this social factor: “It’s the complexity of the tastes; curries were always made for sharing. There could not be a better reason than that.” And this is shown in the societies. Curry Appreciation societies are a great way to ensure that not only you are eating a tasty, satisfying meal, but also that you have the opportunity to socialise with people that share a common love. I know that whenever I’ve been for a curry it’s often the case that the group will often end up sampling a little taste of everyone’s dish, especially if someone is trying something new. Not to mention the one glutton you’re bound to have in your group who will polish off all the leftovers! Without a doubt, curry is one of the most social types of dining. What other cuisines offer the chance to rip up and share a naan bread and snap your way with a friend through a stack of poppadoms.

So what’s the students’ take on this? I managed to hunt down some of the Curry Appreciation societies up and down the country. “The curry socials are really good, especially for Fresher’s, as it gives students a chance to mix in different circles. They’re also good for second and third years, too, as it is a great way to relax and forget about stresses, especially during exam times,” said Cameron Buchan, Bath’s Curry Appreciation Society Chairman.

Ash Davies from Leicester’s Curry Appreciation Society reinforced the notion that there’s nothing like a curry to help a Fresher settle into university life: “We give away hundreds of tasty treats to Fresher’s, hoping to tempt them to join us, with the lure of bhajis and samosas.” 

‘Curry’ has become synonymous with Indian food, and it’s fair to say that plenty of students, despite the temptation of a free onion bhaji, are reluctant to eat out at a curry house if they haven’t tried one before. Indeed, Mody points out that “Indian food isn’t all about curries. Some of the world’s more varied vegetarian cuisine evolved from this sub-continent”. So, even if a curry isn’t your cup of tea, many students go along for the ‘social factor’ – something which is further accentuated by the fact that many curry houses have a BYOB policy. Curry appreciation happens in most curry houses within reach of students every night of the year.

And this is catered for. As chairman of the curry table, Cameron explained that he has thought this through: “We have a membership card for all of our members, so they can get discounts at loads of local curry houses without having to attend an official curry social.”

The Curry Appreciation Society in Leicester encourages curry-cooking as a social too, and they recently held a successful event. Ash explains: “we showed students how to cook their own curry dishes, and fundraised for charity at the same time. We hope lots of Leicester students have been inspired to become curry masters!”  So, if you’re strapped for cash and not sure if you can afford each of the social nights,  why not take this idea on and organise a ‘Curry Appreciation’ social evening- in, and cook your own curry with friends. This is something I did recently, and it was great fun!

Even professional chef Mody agrees that this cooking has become a more social activity, and has been made ‘glamorous’ thanks to the help of TV programmes. Yet despite being glamorous, he denied that curry-cooking is too expensive or complicated for students: “I have always believed that anything labelled as cheap is what is is! A wise cook will always be able to cook using good quality ingredients within budget and then an almost basic understanding of food groups help towards avoiding unhealthy ingredients.” Social, reasonably priced, healthy. What more could you want?

So, if you haven’t tried curry, what on earth are you waiting for? As far as diverse societies go, Curry Appreciation is probably one of the societies that includes the most diverse types of people.  Anyone, from any part of the UK, from any background culture can enjoy a good curry, and it is a great talking point- to discuss what you do and don’t like, if you’re a Spice King or Queen, or if you prefer to indulge in a creamy curry. Facebook search your uni’s Curry Appreciation Society and enjoy a variety of tasty curries with a bunch of new friends!

If you’re visiting or living in London, why not taste some of Mehernosh Mody’s food, just as I did. If you like what you see, perhaps book a reservation at La Porte des Indes too.