December 8, 2023

The earliest bases for curry in Southeast Asia were found on sandstone slabs unearthed at the Óc Eo site in Vietnam.

In a rare find, researchers found a range of spices on grinding tools and sandstone slabs from the original excavation in 2018, including turmeric, ginger, finger root, sand ginger, galangal, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.

These spices are said to be around 2,000 years old and are still one of the key ingredients that make up the base of Asian curries.

“The spices used today are not very different from those in Óc Eo’s time,” said Khanh Trung Kien Nguyen of the Southern Institute of Social Sciences. “The key ingredients are still there, such as turmeric, cloves and cinnamon.”

This discovery is more than an opportunity to exchange 2,000 years of culinary experience. It is also a window into early trade.

“Our study suggests that curry was likely introduced to Southeast Asia by migrants during early trade contacts through the Indian Ocean,” said lead author Weiwei Wang from the Australian National University (ANU). “Given the different locations where these spices originated, it’s clear that people traveled long distances for trade purposes.

The team also found preserved seeds that may be new or ancient species of existing plants, which the researchers plan to study next.

“The preservation of the Oc Eo plant remains is excellent, and the seeds are so fresh, it’s hard to believe they’re 2,000 years old,” said Hsiao-chun Hung of the Australian National University. “We believe further analysis could identify more spices and possibly even unique plant species, adding to our understanding of the region’s history.”

The study was published in the journal scientific progress.

source: sintu maguig