Devil's Curry: A Popular Curry Dish from Melaka's Kristang Community
Devil’s Curry/Kari Debal/Curry Debal is a very spicy curry dish from the Eurasian Kristang (Cristão) community in Melaka. This curry dish gets its complexity from a host of fragrant ingredients such as ground mustard seed, galangal, ginger, red chillies, shallots, lemongrass, turmeric, and last but not least, vinegar, which added a sharper taste. The end result is a curry dish that is spice-laden, complex in flavor, tantalizing to the taste buds.
Kristang cuisine blends the cuisines of Southeast Asia with a western-style cuisine inherited from Portuguese colonial rulers. It is often served one or two days after Christmas and on other special occasions.
In the original Kristang, “curry debal” means “leftover curry”. This is because, in the old days, this curry was commonly prepared the day after Christmas with leftover meats from the holiday feast. The similarity of the words “debal” and “devil”, probably paired with spiciness of the dish, lead to it being adopted into the English language as “Devil’s Curry”.