Curry powder is a tantalizing mixture of finely ground spices. It may contain as little as six curry spices or as many as 20 or more, with flavors ranging from mild and savory to slightly spicy and sweet, and even fiery hot. Each region has its own distinctive taste. Customize the heat and flavor of the curry by making your own spice blend from scratch.
Commonly used curry spices are chile, cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger and turmeric, which gives curry its distinctive yellow color. Other spices can include black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek seeds, mustard and most any other spice. Cinnamon helps sweeten the blend, while chile, black pepper and mustard turn up the heat.
Tips for Making a Spice Blend
To make curry powder, dry-toast whole spices over medium heat in a nonstick or heavy-based pan, stirring constantly for two to three minutes or until the spices give off a rich aroma. Don’t overcook, as burning may make the spices bitter.
Allow the spices to cool, then crush in a coffee or spice grinder, or with a mortar and pestle.
Add powdered spices such as ginger and turmeric to your blend after whole spices have been dry-toasted and ground.
Store the curry powder in an airtight glass or ceramic jar in a cool, dry location—such as a cupboard or pantry—for up to six months.
Looking for a few ideas? Try one of the following curry blends, from sweet to spicy:
SWEET BLEND: 1 tablespoon: cinnamon, ginger, chile powder, turmeric; 2 teaspoons whole, toasted coriander seeds and cumin seeds
MEDIUM BLEND: 1 tablespoon: ground coriander, cumin, chile powder and ginger; 2 tablespoons turmeric; 1 teaspoon ground mustard seeds
SPICY BLEND: 1 1⁄2 tablespoons whole, toasted coriander and cumin seeds; 1 1⁄2 tablespoons turmeric; 2 teaspoons whole, toasted fenugreek and black mustard seeds; 2 teaspoons ginger; 1 1⁄2 teaspoons whole, toasted black peppercorns; 1 to 2 ground dried chiles
No matter which curry spices you use, you're sure to make a tantalizing blend.
Contributing Editor Kris Wetherbee tends her herbs in western Oregon.