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Spicy dishes not only taste good, they're good for you

Curry sauces are used to spice up everything from meat and poultry to vegetable and noodle dishes. Curry houses are so popular in England that many people wonder if curry is its national dish. Curries not only taste good, their spices contain many vitamins that are necessary for good health.

One thing that most expatriates will agree on -- no matter where they call home -- is that they miss the cuisine from their native land.

Adam Kemp, a Grand Forks artist who grew up in England and came to the United States in 1987 to study at the University of North Dakota, is no exception.

So, what food does the owner of the downtown art gallery You Are Hear long for the most from his homeland?

It's curry. Adam is an ardent fan, just like a lot of other Brits, whose love for it often trumps their desire for traditional fish and chips.

Probably nowhere else in the world outside of South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka -- among others -- can you find more restaurants that feature curry so prominently as in Great Britain.

In fact, curry houses are so commonplace there that many people with U.S. military connections to the Isles (Lakenhealth and Mindenhall Air Force bases, for example) have wondered aloud to Adam if curry is the national dish.

A favorite of mine

I can understand the Brits' fascination with curries. They are among the tastiest foods I've eaten.

To quote Raghavan Iyer, a native of India and an award-winning, Minneapolis-based cooking teacher and the author of "660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking," in curries, I love the combination of the four S's: "Saucy,, spicy -- meaning well-seasoned -- simple and sensational."

Curry, in the traditional sense, encompasses a huge variety of dishes that are mild to hot-hot and available in meat, poultry, seafood (shrimp, prawns) and most vegetables dishes.

It goes well beyond the generic term used by so many Americans, who see curry as a commercially prepared mixture of spices.

My introduction to genuine curry came in the late 1970s or early '80s on one of my trips to Denver.

A friend, Jack Caldis, took me to what I would describe as a small neighborhood health food store/cafe where several types of curries were served.

It wasn't exactly an English curry house, which Adam describes as having impeccable service, but from what I've gathered about the types of dishes served at those, the food was typical.

I recall curries served in bowls that contained significant amounts of sauce or gravy based on yogurt, coconut milk, legume puree (dal) or stock.

Nutritionally, curries are a good choice.

The spices generally found in them, often a blend of turmeric, cumin and coriander, among others, contain several vitamins necessary for good health, including generous amounts vitamins K and E as well as A, C and the B vitamins in lesser amounts.

Curries also contain several minerals, with manganese being the most abundant.

(Other minerals in curries can include iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, calcium, phosphorous, zinc and selenium.

While I know a few local restaurants do serve curries, it'd be nice if one that primarily served curry dishes opened here.

I'm sure Adam Kemp wouldn't object.

(Tiedeman is the food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or email at