Widely used in Indian cooking, authentic Indian curry powder is freshly ground each day and can vary dramatically depending on the region and the cook. Curry powder is actually a pulverized blend of up to 20 spices, herbs and seeds. Among those most commonly used are cardamom, chiles, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, mace, nutmeg, red and black pepper, poppy and sesame seeds, saffron, tamarind and turmeric (the latter is what gives curried dishes their characteristic yellow color). Commercial curry powder–which bears little resemblance to the freshly ground blends of southern India–comes in two basic styles: standard, and the hotter of the two, “Madras” curry powder.
Curry powder is used to flavor soups and stews, and is great for adding a kick to all kinds of sauces and marinades, as well as meatloaf and burgers, and chicken, tuna, pasta and potato salads. Since curry powder quickly loses its pungency, it should be stored, airtight, no longer than two months.
“Curry powder” as we know it was a British invention, not an Indian one, intended to capture the flavor of Indian cooking without the painstaking effort of custom-blending, roasting and grinding spices for every dish prepared. And even more strangely, most curry powder doesn’t even contain curry leaves! Curry became a great favorite in Britain at the end of the nineteenth century, and its popularity soon spread to Japan.
Americans once primarily enjoyed curry in Indian and Thai restaurants. Now, curry blends are being added to familiar foods, from a simple roast chicken breast to sautéed shrimp and vegetables. Curry is a key element of South and Southeast Asian, Caribbean, Japanese, English and Australian cooking. At the heart of most curry blends is a flavor base of black or red pepper, coriander and cumin. A number of spices can be added to this base to create different flavor experiences. Garam masala, for example, is a sweeter curry, featuring cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Hot Madras curry delivers the heat and intense flavor of the Madras region of India and also includes fenugreek, turmeric and garlic. Red curry blends are a complex mix of select spices, chile peppers and cardamom. As Americans become more familiar with curry, they’re discovering a wide range of flavor possibilities.
We like to combine curry with fruits such as apples, bananas and passion fruit, and sweeter flavors like vanilla,” says Chef Shawn McClain, of Spring and Green Zebra in Chicago. “For example, we serve a Maine lobster spring roll with passion fruit-curry sauce.”
Perfect Flavor Partners Include:
basil, cilantro, citrus, coconut, garlic, ginger, mango, mint, passion fruit, plantains, vanilla and yogurt Color
Bright golden yellow or toasty brown. Flavor & Aroma
Both musky and bright; sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy Sensory Profile
Since up to 20 spices can comprise curry powder, its profile is complex. Turmeric and fenugreek add earthiness; cinnamon and cardamom add sweetness; chiles and pepper add heat.
Spicy Curry Powder Recipe
Ingredients: * Coriander seeds- 1/2 cup * Cumin seeds- 1/4 cup * Black mustard seeds- 1 tablespoon * Black peppers- 1 tsp * Red chilies- 5 * Fenugreek seeds- 3/4 tsp * Turmeric powder- 2 tsps * Dried curry leaves- 20
Method: In a heavy-bottomed pan fry all the ingredients for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat. Grind all the roasted ingredients together to a powder. Store in an airtight container.
Basic Curry Powder (Indian Curry) Recipe
6 dried red chilies 1 ounce coriander seeds 2 teaspoons cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds 1 teaspoon black peppercorns 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds 10 fresh curry leaves 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1 tablespoon ground turmeric Turn this recipe into a puzzle!
This medium-hot curry blend can be used in any dish that calls for curry powder.
Remove the seeds from the chilies. Dry roast the whole spices over a medium heat until they darken, stirring or shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning. Leave to cool, then grind to a powder. Dry roast the curry leaves in the pan for a few minutes, then grind and add them to the mixture with the ginger and turmeric, blending well.
Goan Curry Powder
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 4 fresh green chili peppers, such as serrano, thinly sliced, 3 tablespoons coriander powder, 2 tablespoons white poppy seeds, 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon ajwain seeds, 10 cardamom pods, 10 cloves, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1. In a medium-sized skillet, roast the coconut over medium heat, stirring continuously for about 8 minutes until it is golden and crispy. Transfer to a bowl. 2. In the same skillet, dry roast the garlic and green chili peppers over medium heat, stirring continuously for about 8 minutes until it is dry and golden. 3. Place the remaining spices in the skillet and dry roast over medium heat, stirring and shaking the pan until they are golden and very fragrant. Remove and cool. 4. Mix all the roasted ingredients together, put in a spice grinder in batches, and process at high speed until spices are finely ground like powder. 5. Pour into a non reactive container, cover tightly, and store up to 3 months
This easy-to-make spice blend is the heart of most Indian dishes. A combination of different spices, it probably has as many recipes as there are families in India! Here is a basic one. Once you get a feel for the taste it gives your cooking, experiment and alter it to suit your needs.
Garam masala is best made fresh just before you begin cooking, but if you haven’t got the patience (like me!), make a batch ahead and store for several months in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place. Prep Time: 0 hours, 10 minutes Cook Time: 0 hours, 4 minutes
* 4 tbsps coriander seeds * 1 tbsp cumin seeds * 1 tbsp black peppercorns * 1 1/2 tsps black cumin seeds (shahjeera) * 1 1/2 tsps dry ginger * 3/4 tsp black cardamom (3-4 large pods approx) * 3/4 tsp cloves * 3/4 tsp cinnamon (2 X 1″ pieces) * 3/4 tsp crushed bay leaves
* Heat a heavy skillet on a medium flame and gently roast all ingredients (leave cardamom in its pods till later) except the dry ginger, till they turn a few shades darker. Stir occasionally. Do not be tempted to speed up the process by turning up the heat as the spices will burn on the outside and remain raw on the inside.
* When the spices are roasted turn of the flame and allow them to cool.
* Once cooled, remove the cardamom seeds from their skins and mix them back with all the other roasted spices.
* Grind them all together, to a fine powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder.
* Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.