Curry Powder

As our friend Sanjiv Singh is so fond of saying, "Curry is not a thing, it is a state of being". In particular, it is not a powder. A Curry does not necessarily contain curry powder. Curry powder is in fact a blend of spices, varying according to regional preferences or traditions. As a result, there are literally thousands of "curry powders", each of which was uniquely suited for the produce and tastes of the region it developed in.

Indians tend to use garam masala (another type of curry powder, of which there are also many incantations) the way people in the west use curry powder. An exception is in the south they have developed a mixture called "sambhar powder" that is quite different from garam masala.

Actually, the word curry is derived from the south Indian word curriel, which was used in the local language (Tamil) for a fish stew that had tamarind and curry leaves (which is where these leaves also get their name even in local languages). This was then picked up and transformed into the present "curry" by the British. The word "curry", in its English sense, has no direct translation into any to India's fifteen languages, and Indians do not use the term even when speaking English.

Below are a few different blends of "English memsahib" curry powders. These mixes are similar to the "curry powder" you would find in a grocery store, and can be used in any recipe that calls for "curry powder". Blending it yourself has the advantage that the mix is likely to be fresher than the store bought version, and in addition you can adapt it to your own personal taste.


Curry Powder (1)

Karen Haigh
Originally From: The Kenya Cookery Book

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large bay leaf, broken
8 whole cloves
6-12 cardamom seeds (pods removed)

In a spice-mill or blender, grind all the ingredients together until fine. If not using right away, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. \vspace*{-.5cm}

Curry Powder (2)

Karen Haigh
Originally From: The Kenya Cookery Book

1 oz cayenne
2 oz ginger
8 oz coriander seeds
8 oz turmeric
2 oz mustard seeds
4 oz fenugreek seeds
4 oz cinnamon stick

Pound, bottle and cork well.

Curry Powder (3)

Karen Haigh
Originally From: Indian Domestic Economy, 1850, Directly quoted

Coriander seeds (to be well roasted, pounded) (1 lb);
turmeric (1lb 2oz);
fenugreek (4oz);
ginger, dried (1 lb);
black pepper (1 lb);
dried chillies (12 oz);
cardamoms (8 oz);
cinnamon (8 oz).

Salt in proportion to be added when using the curry stuff. The whole to be cleaned, dried, pounded, and sifted; then properly mixed together and put into bottles, well corked. A tablespoonfull is sufficient for a chicken or fowl curry.

From the Dinner Co-op