If you’re looking for the BEST curry powder recipe, look no further! The flavor and aroma of this curry blend is an absolute feast for the senses and hands down beats anything you’ll find at the grocery store!
Growing up my mom made Indian food on a regular basis and the smell of cardamom, coriander, fennel and other spices wafting from the kitchen was a sure way to whet our appetites. Here’s a recipe for homemade curry powder, a versatile spice blend you can use in a whole host of Indian-inspired dishes. This curry powder recipe is the ultimate blend of carefully balanced spices that will deliver flavor and fragrance to your food!
Where Did Curry Powder Originate?
You may think the answer is obvious: “Duh. India.” But you may be surprised to know that curry powder doesn’t exist on the Indian subcontinent and is in fact an 18th century British invention.
Whereas most Indian recipes use a variety of different individual spices, curry powder was Great Britain’s way of simplifying Indian cooking in a way that was easily accessible to the British home cook who would otherwise have found it difficult to acquire some of these spices. British manufacturers developed a pre-made blend of Indian spices, called it “curry powder”, and sold it in tin cans (popular brands that still exist include Sharwood’s, The Original Ship/Green Label and Crosse & Blackwell). Now cooks could take out a scoop or two of “curry powder,” add it to their meal, and enjoy a full array of Indian flavors.
It was during this same time period that British cookbooks started including recipes for “curry sauce,” another British creation. The term “curry” is the anglicized version of the Tamil word kari, which translates to the generic word “sauce.” In Great Britain, “curry sauce” referred to a specific dish that used curry powder. And this “curry sauce” has since become world renowned and conjures up an immediate recognition and expectation of what it will taste like.
What is in Curry Powder?
There is no standard recipe and both the selection of spices and their ratios vary from recipe to recipe and from brand to brand. However there are several spices that more often than not are included in curry powder and those include coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, fenugreek, fennel, curry leaf or bay leaf, garlic, black pepper and red chilies. Cardamom is sometimes included though less commonly. The cardamom flavor is featured more commonly in Garam Masala. For spicy-hot curry, more red chilies and yellow mustard seeds are added.
These spices can be added in any number of different ratios which will give more emphasis to one flavor over the other. My goal in developing this curry powder recipe was to create a good balance of all the flavors, each one complementing rather than rivaling the other. And I also wanted to replicate the flavor of my favorite British curry powder brands that I came to love during the years I lived in England. This carefully crafted curry powder will give your food a remarkable depth and complexity of flavor and we’re confident you’re going to love it as much as we do.
Curry Powder and Madras Curry Powder – What’s the Difference?
They both have the same ingredients and thus the same flavor, but they differ in their level of heat. Standard curry powder is milder whereas madras curry powder is hot. This heat come from adding more red chilies as well as yellow mustard seeds. You can easily adapt this recipe to make madras curry powder by adding these two ingredients.
Do I Have to Use Whole Spices?
No, but we HIGHLY recommend it. The natural oils in spices is where the flavor is concentrated and these oils are highly perishable once the whole spices have been ground. The pre-ground spices sold in stores have been sitting in jars for a long time and their flavor is bland in comparison to freshly ground spices.
How Long Does Curry Powder Keep?
Because the natural oils in the whole spices perish fairly quickly one the spices are ground we always recommend making seasoning blends in small batches so that you can use them up quickly. While this blend will keep for several months (and still taste better than store-bought) the flavor potency will weaken over time, so for maximum flavor it’s best to use it within a few weeks.
Curry Powder Recipe
Making your own couldn’t be any simpler. The only remotely challenging part may be finding the needed spices. But I’ve provided links in the recipe box to where you can conveniently find them on Amazon if you can’t find them locally. Once you have all the spices all you have to do is dry-roast the whole spices in a skillet and then grind the cooled spices together with the remaining spices.
Let’s get started!
Heat a skillet over medium heat and roast the whole spices and curry/bay leaves for a few minutes until very fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spices or they will be bitter. Let the spices cool completely.
Once completely cool, place the toasted whole spices in a spice/coffee grinder along with the remaining ingredients and grind until you get a fine powder.
Store the spice blend in an airtight jar in a dark, cool place. Will keep for several months but for best flavor use within a few weeks.
For more delicious homemade seasoning blends be sure to try our:
- Greek Seasoning
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Creole Seasoning
- Garam Masala
- Chinese Five Spice
- Chili Powder
- British Mixed Spice
- Porcini Salt
- Shichimi Togarashi
- Pot Roast Seasoning
- Panch Phoron
BEST Curry Powder
- 1/4 cup coriander seeds
- 4 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (optional, for added heat)
- 4 small dried red chili peppers
- 4 dried curry leaves (can substitute 1 large bay leaf)
- 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and roast the whole spices and curry/bay leaves for a few minutes until very fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spices or they will be bitter. Let the spices cool completely. Place the whole spices in a spice/coffee grinder along with the remaining ingredients and grind until you get a fine powder. Store the curry powder in an airtight jar in a dark, cool place. Will keep for several months but for best flavor use within a few weeks. Makes approx. 1/2 cup of curry powder.
- To Make Curry Paste: Combine 1 tablespoon of curry powder with 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of oil and mix together. You can also add some finely minced garlic and ginger. (You can use larger quantities of the paste ingredients and puree everything together in a blender.) For a Thai curry paste replace the water with fish sauce and add a squirt of lime juice.
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet January 28, 2020