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Homemade curry powder


chappie
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I made today an eggplant curry I saw Tyler Florence prepare on Food 911. He makes his own curry powder by toasting and then grinding the following:

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon cardamom seeds

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Then I added a tablespoon of turmeric and whizzed it again. The curry had a sauce of ghee, onion, dried coconut, cashews and coconut milk, plus a heaping tablespoon of the aforementioned curry powder.

It was tasty, but not remarkably so (at least not yet; maybe all it needs is to sit awhile and meld). Are there any additional spices I should use in a curry powder? Should I seek out the curry leaves I've been reading about lately? Did I perhaps not toast the spices long enough, or is there a chance they're old and have lost some of their oils?

Again, this is a good powder, but not as distinct as it could be. Any curry experts out there?

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I must admit I'm a bit shocked.

My mind was full of pictures of Indian kitchens where curry would be prepared from scratch. Seems I have read too many books written by Brits :laugh: .

Mongo's comment made me curious: is this the case with every kind of curry powder, or better with the many different ground spice mixes used in Indian cuisine? Or are there some exceptions?

I'll keep making my curry powder from whole spices... no Indian grocery around here :sad:

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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I don't know, Mongo. I always make my own garam masala. It's always more fragrant than what I get at the Indian grocers and I know how fresh it is. Plus, I can play with the amounts to fit my needs. It's pretty damn easy to make. Toss some spices onto a piece of foil in the oven until fragrant. Whiz in the coffee grinder.

My rec is to get an Indian cookbook (Sahni or Jaffrey) and play with their combos. Peterson's Sauces is also a resource I like.

Mexican women use Dona Maria mole and Americans use Ragu pasta sauce, doesn't make it right. It's a convenience, but I don't think it's much of one.

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Well first - curry powder is not really used in the Indian kitchen.. -- many spice mixes are used - like Garam Masala, Chat Masala, Tandoori masala etc... some of these are easy to make at home like Garam Masala and others like Chaat Masala most people buy. Yes in India and even here many Indian cooks buy the premade masalas. If you like a specific taste its good to make your own but some of the store bought stuff -- some of the newer brands are actually pretty good

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I don't know, Mongo. I always make my own garam masala. It's always more fragrant than what I get at the Indian grocers and I know how fresh it is. Plus, I can play with the amounts to fit my needs. It's pretty damn easy to make. Toss some spices onto a piece of foil in the oven until fragrant. Whiz in the coffee grinder.

My rec is to get an Indian cookbook (Sahni or Jaffrey) and play with their combos. Peterson's Sauces is also a resource I like.

Mexican women use Dona Maria mole and Americans use Ragu pasta sauce, doesn't make it right. It's a convenience, but I don't think it's much of one.

I do this too - but the point is that for most people even this little step keeps them away from cooking Indian food - it makes it all seem tedious and hard. eGers are an exception here since most people here really like to go thru the extra steps to make it special. I am really a huge proponent of some of the mixes out there that are really very good.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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see i've had wierd problems with the spice mixes i've tired. some just don't have the right mix of spices for me or smell funny, others have given me digestive disturbances of one sort or another. best for me at least, to go with what i know.

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see i've had wierd problems with the spice mixes i've tired. some just don't have the right mix of spices for me or smell funny, others have given me digestive disturbances of one sort or another. best for me at least, to go with what i know.

I think this happens a lot of times when the spices are not fresh so the mixes might have been old. Have you tried the MDH brand -- they are really very good. Also some of the newer ones on the market are quite good. That being said its gratifying to make your own :smile:

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I know practically nothing about Indian cooking, but this conversation sounds like an echo of the ones you'll hear about chili powder, grilling/smoking spice rubs and Cajun spice mixes. I make my own usually, and yes, they're to my taste and I know the quality, and they're better than what I can buy at the local grocery.

But I would hate to think that my obsession would stop anyone from making chili or gumbo just because they aren't inclined to follow my example. There are decent commercial chile powders and spice rubs. If this availability encourages someone to explore a new cuisine, I'm all for it -- maybe one day they'll be obsessive, too. But until then, a butt rubbed with Penzey's is better than no butt at all.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I know practically nothing about Indian cooking, but this conversation sounds like an echo of the ones you'll hear about chili powder, grilling/smoking spice rubs and Cajun spice mixes. I make my own usually, and yes, they're to my taste and I know the quality, and they're better than what I can buy at the local grocery.

But I would hate to think that my obsession would stop anyone from making chili or gumbo just because they aren't inclined to follow my example. There are decent commercial chile powders and spice rubs. If this availability encourages someone to explore a new cuisine, I'm all for it -- maybe one day they'll be obsessive, too. But until then, a butt rubbed with Penzey's is better than no butt at all.

Exactly!

I agree with you completely.

My mom and dad who are the best cooks I know period use some store made mixes. they make their own garam masala and grind their own coriander.. but love to use store made Chaat masala etc.

And also the fact that as the cuisine is starting to gain popularity the spice makers are responding by producing a better product.

Roopaks spice mixes, pickle mixes etc are really very good.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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curry powder is not really used in the Indian kitchen.

One of my favorite cookbooks--Laxmi's Vegetarian Kitchen--has a recipe for 'kari pudi,' which tastes much like store-bought curry powder. Many of her recipes call for kari pudi OR store-bought curry powder. She also has recipes for garam masala, chaat masal, and things like that.

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curry powder is not really used in the Indian kitchen.

One of my favorite cookbooks--Laxmi's Vegetarian Kitchen--has a recipe for 'kari pudi,' which tastes much like store-bought curry powder. Many of her recipes call for kari pudi OR store-bought curry powder. She also has recipes for garam masala, chaat masal, and things like that.

A lot of books are now talking about a standard curry powder. Traditionally there was no such thing in India as "curry powder" - there are various spice mixes as you mention.

I have started using commerical curry powder in some of my marinades with fairly decent results

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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According to this India agriculture web site, "Curry powder is a British invention to imitate the flavor of Indian cooking with minimal effort. "

And curry leaves (they actually are apparently the original source of the word "curry") ... are rarely found outside of India.

I borrowed (permanently) Jamie Oliver's cookbook "Happy Days with the Naked Chef," in which he presents a curry recipe and talks at length about curry leaves and his attempts to get more grocers to stock them. I wonder if that's just in the UK, though. A chef/owner I know says he's familiar with them and can order them.

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Well first - curry powder is not really used in the Indian kitchen.. -- many spice mixes are used - like Garam Masala, Chat Masala, Tandoori masala etc... some of these are easy to make at home like Garam Masala and others like Chaat Masala most people buy. Yes in India and even here many Indian cooks buy the premade masalas. If you like a specific taste its good to make your own but some of the store bought stuff -- some of the newer brands are actually pretty good

i'm going to have to disagree with the first statement here. if curry powder isn't used in the indian kitchen i have no idea why there are so many brands of it available in every grocery store in india. and it isn't just people in a rush who use them--i know many, many excellent cooks (my mother among them) who use it. ditto with pretty much every commercial masala (individual or mix). there are many brands, with different blends, and you get to know what you like and how to mix it with other spices to achieve different flavors. it isn't necessarily the case that casual cook begin with commercial mixes and then graduate to painstakingly roasting, grinding and blending their own.

in matters like these, whether in relation to indian or some other cuisine, i find it is largely people outside the culture, and sometimes people originally from it who need to for some reason mystify it, who are invested in things like grinding all their spices fresh whenever they need them. (i'm not including people like monica or tryska in this characterization, of course.) more power to those who want to roast, grind and blend all their own masalas (presumably they also make all their mayos and pickles from scratch)--but i'd be shocked if 99% of them would be able to tell the difference between the same curry cooked with commercial curry powder or some home-made mix.

as for curry leaves--the indian cuisines that use them the most (largely southern indian cuisines) have very little by way of "curries" that at all resemble north indian curries, which are what most non-indians think of when they see or hear the word. the word "kari" means roughly "thin gravy"--how this became something also associated with chicken tikka masala is a long, confusing story.

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I must admit I'm a bit shocked.

My mind was full of pictures of Indian kitchens where curry would be prepared from scratch. Seems I have read too many books written by Brits :laugh: .

more likely you've read too many articles and books written by food writers and chefs of indian origin now living in the u.s or u.k. there is a lot of money to be made by marketing exotica and heat and dust.

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Mexican women use Dona Maria mole and Americans use Ragu pasta sauce, doesn't make it right. It's a convenience, but I don't think it's much of one.

this isn't an exact analogy. it would be if we were talking about things like bottled rogan josh sauce or biryani paste or things like that--they do exist. powdered spices don't play this role in the average indian kitchen--whether you buy commercial or make your own you are going to use them, along with things like tomatoes, onions and potatoes, to arrive at the home-made version of the bottled sauce.

my advice always to those in search of culinary/cooking authenticity: watch out that you don't become more authentic than the people who actually cook and eat the food on a daily basis.

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i dunno why you are so anti-from scratch mongo. :wink:

i know i was excused from you characterisation of people who mystify cooking, but i feel i do have to say, for many Indians that came to the US in the 60s and 70s their just weren't powdered masalas (aside from GITS) available in that one local all encompassing "oriental" store that might have been in your town. you'd either have to have friends pick you up podis when they went back home, or make you're own with what you could find at hte oriental store. (or the health food store where all the hippie neo-vegetarians got spices in bulk)

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i dunno why you are so anti-from scratch mongo. :wink:

i know i was excused from you characterisation of people who mystify cooking, but i feel i do have to say, for many Indians that came to the US in the 60s and 70s their just weren't powdered masalas (aside from GITS) available in that one local all encompassing "oriental" store that might have been in your town. you'd either have to have friends pick you up podis when they went back home, or make you're own with what you could find at hte oriental store. (or the health food store where all the hippie neo-vegetarians got spices in bulk)

i'm not particularly anti from scratch tryska--i'm only anti the reasons most people come up with or are given for cooking only with home-made/ground/blended masalas. there are times when i use commercial curry powder, times when i don't; times when i use commercial garam masala, times when i don't. etc. etc.

and what you say about the situation immigrants found themselves in in the 60s and 70s is very true--it doesn't apply today, however. most, though not all, immigrants coming today who insist on such things probably have something else going on though.

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Perhaps it depends on what dishes you are making? From following your foodblog and some of your other posts, I don't recall you using curry powder or other spice blends (with the exception of garam masala) much Mongo.

Are there some dishes that you use curry powder for and others that are prepared from particular amounts of particular spices?

In my indian cooking (rudimentary though it is) most of the dishes I make call for custom quantities and combinations--cumin, coriander and fenugreek in this one, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon and cumin in another etc. And different proportions of each.

I don't have anything against curry powder, but I usually want more control than it offers.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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