This curry recipe uses a blend of 6 fragrant spices to create a complex, fragrant and hot curry powder.
Since I’ve started making my own curry powder, I can never go back to buying the pre-made stuff at the store. Homemade curry powder tastes very different from the packaged stuff- more complex, more fresh, and frankly, more interesting.
I started making my own curry powder after I learned that some spice blends- like curry powder- sometimes have filler ingredients (ie. wheat) added to them to boost the container weight. I say spice blend because curry powder is not simply one spice- it is a combination of many different spices ground together. (Paradoxically, many curries do not even contain curry leaves! It’s a head-scratcher.)
In true Indian cooking, curries are freshly prepared each day. Curry-powder-in-a-jar as we know it was a British invention for convenience- intended to capture the flavor of Indian cooking without having to blend, roast, and grind a fresh batch of curry each day.
There are endless varieties of curry powders because different regions of India have their own distinct recipes. Curry powder can be a blend of up to 20 different spices including cardamom, chiles, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginger, mace, nutmeg, peppercorns, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, saffron, tamarind and turmeric.
The recipe I’m sharing with you is based on Mark Bittman’s Hot Curry Powder found in the first edition of his book “How to Cook Everything.” If you’re making curry for the first time, this is a great recipe to start with because it only uses a handful of ingredients- all of which are easy to buy and simple to work with.
Hot Curry Powder
2 tsp black peppercorns
1/3 cup cumin seeds
1/2 cup coriander seeds
2 tbsp ground ginger
1/4 cup ground turmeric
1 tsp cayenne powder, optional
In a cast iron frying pan, over medium-high heat, toast the first three spices, frequently stirring with a wooden spoon. The idea here is to slowly heat the spices through until they become very aromatic. (Do not use high heat too quickly-the hot spices can make you cough.) Once the spices are very aromatic, remove from heat and cool.
In a spice grinder (more about that here), grind your toasted peppercorns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Grind in small batches. The consistency you want is a fine powder.
Combine the ground spices with the ginger, turmeric, and cayenne (if using). Blend thoroughly (shaking the jar is sufficient) until well-blended.
Store for 2 to 3 months in sealed jar.
TIP: The cheapest place to buy cumin and coriander seeds is at an Indian grocery store, where they are sold in bulk. (While you are there, ask an employee about how they make their signature curry powder- I learnt a ton from asking that question!) Alternatively, you can find cumin and coriander seeds in the international section of your local grocery store or at a bulk food store. The teeny tiny glass jars of cumin and coriander seeds sold in the spice aisle of your grocery store are massively overpriced.