What is Curry Powder?
Historically, Indian merchants sold curry powder to British traders operating out of India. It was made to replicate a traditional Indian sauce, or what the British would call curry. It is similar to Indian garam masala, except it’s usually added at the beginning of the cooking process. In contrast, garam masala is typically used at the end to finish a dish in the same manner as salt or pepper.
Curry powders were first recorded in British recipe books during the Victorian era, and the brands that helped bring these mixes to British shores, such as Sharwood’s, still operate today.
The Base Ingredients
Cumin, Coriander, and Turmeric form the base of most curries. They are a trilogy of ingredients that work well together. Cumin and coriander are inseparable in most recipes, with their flavours working well together. While mildly flavoured, turmeric imparts a yellow colour into any dish.
Ginger, Black Pepper, Chilli Powder
These spices bring heat and firepower to the curry powder. Ginger helps bring out the citrus flavours while imparting a pungency to the spice mix. Black pepper adds a touch of lemon and a depth of flavour.
Yet, Chilli powder makes the most significant impact. The spiciness of the curry powder can be changed through the amount of chilli used to make your curry powder. I like to use a hot chilli powder. However, some chilli powder contains other ingredients, most commonly oregano and cumin, so always check the label.
As Britain’s view of Indian cuisine inspires this recipe, it leans heavily on the sweeter spices and ones that will add an aroma to its ready-made sauce. British cake recipes also utilise these sweet spices. These include cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
This spicy, slightly bitter spice helps balance the sweeter spices listed above. It’s similar to other spices, such as coriander, as it’s available in seed and leaf form. Usually, the seeds are preferred to make curry powder. However, I’ve opted for the leaves here as they’re similar in flavour, add a hint of green to the powder, and are more readily available near me. If you have ground fenugreek or can grind fenugreek seeds, replace the leaves with the sources in the same ratio. It should also be noted that fenugreek leaves retain the flavour when dried like oregano and are preferred in India to finish a dish.
- 1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
- 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
- 1 Tbsp Ground Turmeric
- 1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tsp Ground Ginger
- 1-2 Tsp Chilli Powder
- ½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ½ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
- ½ Tsp Ground Cardamon
- ½ Tsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
- Combine all the ingredients together and mix well. Store in an airtight container.