Curry Power

IMG_2457No, it is not a spelling mistake in the title — the power of the powder — curry powder is an aromatic combination of many spices and there seems to be as many recipes as there are cooks.  A small amount will add a flavour punch to so many dishes.   My sister found a Jewish cookbook called, Spice & Kosher, Exotic cuisine of the Cochin Jews, and asked me to try out their southern Indian curry powder.  What good timing, because I had just read another recipe for Madras Curry Powder (Madras being in Southern India too) that I also wanted to try out and this gave me the opportunity to compare the two. There are common spices to both blends: cardamom, coriander, cumin, red chili and turmeric. The Madras is more complex with the addition of black pepper, curry leaves, fenugreek, and cinnamon. curryI blended the Madras curry powder first.  This curry powder uses whole Kashmiri chiles. IMG_2443 (1024x720)The whole seed spices are: fenugreek, cumin and coriander.IMG_2444 (1024x658)Add the fresh curry leaves, which have a distinct pungent aroma.IMG_2445 (1024x683) Cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, black peppercorns and turmeric, all ready to start the process. IMG_2442 (1024x685)Everything except the curry leaves and the ground turmeric are toasted for about 30 seconds until they are fragrant.  They are removed from pan and left to cool.IMG_2449 (1024x742)The curry leaves are toasted to crispness in about one minute.  IMG_2450 (1024x888) Put all the ingredients into a spice grinder until smooth. I had to remove some of the bigger pieces of chili and crumble them by hand and put them back into the grinder.  A beautiful reddish-golden Madras curry powder.IMG_1265 (385x315) The preparation of the Cochin curry powder was a simpler process.  No pan roasting, just put all the ingredients in the spice grinder until powdery.  Below are the turmeric and red chili powder along with coriander and cumin seeds. IMG_2455 (1024x499) Remove the aromatic seeds from the green cardamom pods for this mixture. IMG_1264 (519x285)The Cochin curry powder on the left and the Madras on the right.  The Madras has a reddish hue due to the amount of Kashmiri peppers — the blend is spicier and stronger aroma, yet both are spicy. The Cochin curry powder has more of a cardamom aroma which is not overpowered as much by chili.   I use both of these blends.  Sometimes it just depends on what ingredients I have in the house – if I have the choice for a more complex blend, I will make it as a challenge, but the Cochin curry powder is very good too. IMG_2459 (1024x542)Recipes on this blog that have used an Indian curry powder so far:

  1. Chickpea and Paneer with Basmati Rice, So Nice
  2. No-Crab Crab Cakes
  3. Lentil Soup, a Lovely Soup

Madras Curry Powder

Makes 1 cup

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
3- to 4-inch piece of cassia bark
10 to 15 whole green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
5 to 6 long, mild Kashmiri chiles, dried
20 to 30 small curry leaves
2 tablespoons ground turmeric

  1. Toast the first 7 spices, one at a time, in a hot, heavy pan until fragrant. This can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute per spice. Place each in the same bowl and let them cool completely.
  2. To toast curry leaves, place in the same hot pan. Shake the pan to crisp up and toast the leaves, about 1 minute. When they are fragrant, brown around the edges, and crumbly, remove them from the pan and let cool in the bowl.
  3. Place the toasted spices, curry leaves, and ground turmeric in a spice grinder or powerful blender and grind to a fine powder. Sieve if necessary.
  4. To store, place it in an airtight tin in a cool, dark place. It should keep for at least 6 months, though the fresher the better.

Cochin Curry Powder


3 tbsp. coriander seeds
3 tbsp. cumin seeds
3 tbsp. cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp. red chili powder

Grind all together and store in air-tight container.

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