Curry powder, as it is sold commercially, is
almost never used in India or other countries where curry is made and
eaten every day. Rather, the individual spices are freshly ground each day
on a masala stone and added to the food in many different combinations and
There are many good curry mixtures sold
commercially, but there are also many that lack good flavor because of a
skimping on the more expensive spices and a reliance on 'fillers' such as
rice flour to make up the bulk. If using curry powder, make sure it is
fresh by buying from a store where the turnover is quick - preferably a
store specializing in spices. Buy in small quantities so it does not stay
on your shelf for too long. And look for a brand in a bottle or tin,
because cardboard containers absorb a lot of the essential oils of the
In most of the recipes in this
website, we have used the
individual spices to allow for as much variation as possible. Spicing is
an art you can learn, and eventually you can tailor your curries to your
own taste and not rely on a ready-mixed formula.
However, if you cannot obtain the spices
mentioned or have a liking for a particular curry mixture, substitute a
similar quantity of the blend for the combined amount of turmeric,
coriander, cumin, chili, fennel and fenugreek used in the recipe. Curry
powder does not include the fragrant spices such as cardamom, clove and
cinnamon, so these must be added separately.
A curry paste like green masala paste is
made based on fresh herbs. Because these are not always in season, it is a
good idea to make a batch when they are plentiful and preserve them in oil
for use later on. It can take the place of fresh ginger and coriander
leaves and even part of the garlic in a recipe, or it can be used as an
extra flavor accent.
Spices are the soul of Indian cooking.
Another important ingredient and time-saver is garam masala, a mixture of
ground spices, which is added to many types of Indian dishes. Sometimes it
is added with other spices at the frying stage, but more often it is
sprinkled on during the last few minutes of cooking. If stored airtight
and away from heat and light, garam masala will keep for six months or
longer and amply repay the effort of making it. Here again, if you find a
good commercial garam masala, by all means use it - but if you are a real
enthusiast about spice cookery, you owe it to yourself to try a homemade
blend or two. They are so marvelously adaptable to your own taste. The
recipes from our website
will give you a good selection to choose from.
Roasting the spices brings out their flavor
and also makes them easier to grind. If a blender is not available, use a
mortar and pestle to pound spices to a powder. If spices are still warm
and crisp after roasting this process is made much easier.