In most supermarkets you can buy mild, medium or hot curry powder and these are quite adequate for making a curry dip or a dish such as Coronation Chicken but no self-respecting Indian housewife would ever use pre-made curry powder. Many Indian curry powder recipes are regional and most Indian families will have their own recipes for curry powder which have been handed down through the generations.
So, in a nutshell, curry powder is a blend of many different spices and herbs but no matter what it contains it will be freshly ground every day.
The herbs and spices in curry powder may include cumin seeds, coriander seeds, curry leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, black pepper, chilies, fennel seeds, onion seeds, fenugreek, mustard seeds, ground turmeric, ground ginger and dried red chilies.
Basic Indian Curry Powder
- 6 dried red chilies
- 3 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 10 fresh curry leaves
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
Adjust the heat by altering the number of chilies. Dry fry the whole spices until they smell fragrant and grind using a pestle and mortar or an electric coffee grinder (which is much easier). Mix in the other ingredients and you have curry powder.
You can experiment with quantities and ingredients until you find a blend or two which you really like. I have a passion for cumin so I always double the quantity stated in any recipe for curry powder.
You can also make curry paste which stores well in a jar in the fridge; I suggest that you adapt the quantities to your personal taste.
Roughly chop 2 tablespoons each of garlic and ginger root and three green chilies and blend with a little water in a food processor. Chop an onion and soften in vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add the paste and fry briefly. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric, and 2 tablespoons each of toasted ground coriander and cumin and fry briefly again. Then add a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of tomato paste and a little hot water. Simmer uncovered until the paste thickens, then stir in ground black pepper to taste as well as garam masala (another spice mix for which I will tell you where to find the recipe).
Now you know how to make curry powder from scratch, I’m sure that you’ll never again go back to the pre-made variety.
Liz is a keen home cook who loves to make Indian food in particular and you’ll find some regional curry powder recipes as well as a recipe for garam masala at Liz’s website, Authentic Curry Recipes.