Curry Powder is a mix of spices which varies from cook to cook. Native to India, the recipes for these mixtures are often passed down within families and can vary widely from region to region. The spice mixture itself, is put together from a blend of various other spices so there is no actual, cultivating, growing and harvesting of curry. Rather it is up to the spice maker to acquire each of the different spices.
While the individual spices that go into curry powder can vary, some popular additions include turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, coriander, ginger, garlic, fennel seed, cinnamon, clove, green cardamom, mustard seed, mace, nutmeg, long pepper, red pepper and black pepper. While all these different spices are usually not used at once, a curry spice could contain any combination of the above, and anything else the cook sees fit!
Turmeric is the most common ingredient in curry powder and is actually what gives it a golden yellow color. In Western cuisine, curry powder usually includes turmeric, chili, mustard, salt, pepper, fenugreek, cumin and coriander. In India, however, mixtures can include up to 20 or more different spices and can be red, yellow, or brown.
Depending on the desired outcome, a spice maker may consider any number of spices for producing curry powder for cooking. To tailor make cury be sure to mix spices in regular and limited proportions to avoid any one spice from taking over the mixture. To mix up a curry powder, assemble desired spices and mix them in a blender or pepper mill. In some cases, they may need to be pounded, sifted or dried as well. When done, be sure to store the resulting curry in an airtight container (in the obligatory dark cool place). Spices can lose their aroma and taste over time. They can lose their color when exposed to light.
Below is a common curry powder recipe that can be used as a base upon which to build:
1/8 cup turmeric powder
3 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds
3 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
3 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Lightly toast the caramom, coriander, and cumin seeds. Then grind them up in a coffee grinder. Now, in a jar add the remaining spices. Shake until components are thoroughly mixed.